Wednesday, September 27, 2023


RVs parked too close together: Carbon monoxide fumes kill five

By Chuck Woodbury

Originally published in October, 2011

It’s so sad what happened two weeks ago: five people died in a rented RV at a charity event at Tennessee’s Clarksville Speedway. They went to sleep and never woke up. A portable generator hummed outside. Unknown to the RVers, the exhaust was venting into the rig. Friends entered the next morning to wake them up. Oh, the horror!

Those five people left behind 12 children, now all without a mother or father, maybe both. If only one of those persons were educated in the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning they’d all be alive today. Their kids would have a parent, not a grave to visit. Ironically, the charity event benefited needy children: its organizers must be distraught.

Carbon monoxide levels as high as 438 parts per million (ppm) were discovered inside the RV that awful morning. “Those sorts of levels, if they were asleep, you wouldn’t anticipate anybody would wake up,” Rob Aiers of told the Tennessean.

Here’s a video tip from Mark Polk about how to avoid being a victim of carbon monoxide poisoning in an RV.

MOST OF US THINK OF OUR RVs AS ALL FUN. It’s easy to forget they can be dangerous, even deadly. A propane leak can cause a fire or explosion. A electrical short or a miswired extension cord can set up a deadly situation that kills with the simple act of touching an RV’s front door. That very thing happened a few months ago to a teenage boy. Nobody in the family realized that getting a tingle when touching an RV was a sign of danger: that lack of knowledge killed their boy. His death prompted us to re-run our series on RV electricity by Mike Sokol.

Some RVers think it’s okay to walk around a moving motorhome like they’re back at home, or let their kids do it. If the RV stops fast, they get tossed like rag dolls. Somebody dies or spends the rest of their life in a wheelchair.

Lazy RVers forget to put a new 9-volt battery in their fire alarms. Their portable electric heater catches fire in the night — it happens too often — and it’s too late by the time they realize it, if they ever do.

Other RVers drive on outdated, worn or poorly inflated tires. A front one blows out as they’re doing 60 and in that split second they don’t know how to react. They never bothered to learn. So they hit the brakes. Wrong! That will likely send an RV out of control — into a ditch or another lane, maybe flip it over. Watch this video to see what to do if you blow a tire on your RV or any other vehicle. This is important!

Take it upon yourself to learn all you can about safe RVing. Keep your rig in top mechanical condition: that’s my number one safety tip. Continue reading this newsletter for advice and information about RV safety. Share what you learn with your RVer friends, or, better yet, gather with a bunch of RVers or your club to talk about it.

It’s true that RVing is a mostly safe, fun, carefree pursuit. But not always. So pay attention to potential problems and don’t end up like those RVers in Tennessee who should still be alive playing with their kids, not dead.


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