RV Fire Safety Tips: How to Protect Your Family And Your Assets

RV Fire

RVing is a great way to see the country and build long lasting memories with your family. While we’re all packing, planning, and building excitement for our next trip, one key thing that is often overlooked is RV fire safety. RV fires are more common than you might think. According to The National Fire Protection Agency, there are an estimated 20,000 RV fires every year. That number floored me when I read that. Now, I don’t mean to scare you or keep you from having fun on your next trip. I just want to bring some awareness to the issue and hopefully we can all be a little more proactive when it comes to RV fire safety.

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Main Causes Of RV Fires

Engine Compartment

The number one cause of an RV fire is reported to be in the engine compartment of motorhomes. Electrical components short out and ignite any flammable liquids that are present, such as an oil leak, fuel line, etc.

RV Fire
Photo By NPS.gov

RV Refrigerator

The number two cause of these fires are from the RV refrigerator. Improper or lack of suggested maintenance and not leveling you rig are the main cause. Rodents have a tendency to make their way into your rig when it’s stored for a long period of time. They create nests which block vital venting. They also seem to enjoy chewing on wires causing bare spots that lead to electrical shorts, and yes, sparks. A spark from an electrical short can ignite any flammable liquid near it causing a fire.

Towable Brake Systems

Your RV brakes system is another leading cause of fires in RVs. Leaking wheel bearings or a hanging brake rotor or drum can cause enough friction to ignite. Maintaining your brake system and repacking your wheel bearings with fresh grease annually can help mitigate these issues.

12 Volt Wiring

Your RVs 12 volt wiring is another cause of fires. Your rig vibrates and bounces which cause wires to rub and connectors to fall off. Bare spots in wires can short to anything metal causing sparks and possibly overheating components.

RV Fire Prevention

Be Proactive

Before you take your RV out, check everything. Check all vents for rodent or bird nests, debris, and anything that doesn’t belong. If you find something that needs to be repaired, fix it. Crawl under your rig and look for any bare spots on wires. Remember, there is a ton of vibration and bouncing as you drive down the road. Look on the inside of you wheels for any bearing grease or signs of damage.

RV Refrigerator Vented Compartment
Inspect and Clean Vented Areas

Check smoke alarms and replace the batteries as you would in your sticks and bricks home. While your at it, check the carbon monoxide detectors as well.

Check your fire extinguishers. If they are not “FULLY” charged, replace them. They are cheap enough to buy a couple of extras to keep in your RV and in your exterior storage as well.

Have A Plan

Does everyone in your family know how to use the emergency escape windows? If not, make sure they do. It’s one thing to open the emergency windows in the daylight. It’s totally different in the dark with a room full of smoke. Make sure you talk with your kids about what to do if a fire does ignite in your RV. If you have a 5th wheel trailer, it is a long way down if you have to escape in the middle of the night. A fire escape ladder might be a good consideration.

Keep all combustible materials like paper towels, window coverings, etc. away from your RV stove. And never leave your dinner unattended while it’s cooking.

Don’t build your campfires close to your rig. There is always the potential for embers to float where you don’t want them to go.

Make sure your propane tanks are off when pulling in to refuel. There has been an ongoing debate on the safety of traveling with your propane tanks on. I personally do not. The lines are under pressure when the propane is on and a tire blowout or any other accident can cause a minor event to turn catastrophic real quick.

Conclusion On RV Fire Safety

The best offense is having a great defense. When it comes to the safety and well being of our families, we cannot afford to cut corners. An RV fire can turn a fun family vacation into a life changing event. Let’s not be those who look back and say, “I never thought it would happen to me”. With proper planning, maintenance, and awareness, we can all be safe and protect our assets, especially our loved ones. RVs can be replaced, our families can’t.

Check out this short video by Mac The Fire Guy about the common causes of RV fires.

What are your thoughts? Do you have any fire prevention tips to share? Leave us a comment below. We would love to hear from you.

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For more great RV tips, check out our post on Weekend RV Tips and RV Security.

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