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RV  Safety  Info.

We travel the country now and conduct "Informative"  RV Safety Seminars  for groups and organizations.  

Maybe you've seen us ?

We would like to tell you how this all started !!

 In our travels of FullTiming for 8 1/2 years now, we have attended numerous so called "Safety" seminars, but we found most all of them gave you very little "Safety" information, but where mostly scare tactics or info only to persuade you to buy their products.

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Here is a lot of the info that we cover in our Seminars

The info. we cover is to have you Think Safety!!    and to not give a criminal an opportunity!

Enjoy !!

Note:    Statements in (      )  =  a Reference


WEIGHT + OVERLOADING – When loading you must think "WEIGHT DISTRIBUTION"  where are your appliances, holding tanks,  fuel tank , propane, can goods + what are you putting in which compartments.  Try to distribute weight left to right and front to rear.    You should check vehicle weight info tag for 3 things.                (When you find the perfect outside compartment for ALL those tools, did maybe your spouse find the perfect inside cabinet for ALL those Can Goods just inches above??  adding "Hundreds + Hundreds" of pounds in one area!!)

When loading your RV look for the following information - usually listed on a tag near the driver.        GVWR gross vehicle weight rating (maximum vehicle weight loaded)        GAWR  gross axle weight rating. (max weight per axle)    GCWR gross combined weight rating.  (motorhome and trailer or towed vehicle max.)

            Best - get vehicle weighed (Each Wheel) and check vehicle weight info tag.    (Vehicle must be travel ready)

Note: You can get weighed at Truck Stops, Gravel Pits etc. – get 3 weights there – front axle,  rear axle, all axels, and your Towed too!

          Note:  at some RV Rallys a  "Weight In"  is available   Weighting  each  Wheel  (BEST)

 (We heard of one incident where an RVer  preparing for a trip to the "Wilderness" of Alaska before leaving New Mexico stocked up with Cases and Cases and Cases of food and water etc. loading their slideout to the point of it breaking out of  it's sliderails.)

(another case of someone unhappy with the performance of their new RV - slow accelerating, rocks and rolls on turns, slow on the hills and poor fuel mileage - after the RV dealer test drove the vehicle then asked questions and learned they where fulltime travelers and "collectors"   they collected  "Rocks" - lot and lots of "Rocks")

(Overloading is not necessarily your fault though.  At one of our seminars a gentleman said he bought a new motorhome 2 months ago. when reading the manual he found that when you add a 175lb driver you are at GVW.         Also we toured an RV factory where they use Provost Buses to build MotorCoaches.  We asked how much weight can we add? We where told "You'll Never Have to Worry about That"   Well we found out as it comes out of the factory with 1/8 tank of fuel we can add 1,500lbs - that sounds good, but it can hold 800lbs of fuel and 800lbs of water +++)

TRAVEL SAFETY   Traveling in groups or pairs is safer then alone.  (for breakdowns, directions, crime and more)

            Always keep your door locked – driving, parking lots, rest areas, lunch stops, etc.  day or night.

            DO NOT open your door until you can identify the person on the other side.  

            If you do not have clear glass in your door  - you can replace it.  

(We changed the frost or pebble glass in our past RVs with Tempered Glass then tinted it to match the others so you can see who's @ the door  -  If you still have the original window, a safe thing to do is go to a window @ the other end of your RV and stick your head out the window and say can I help you, this way you can see who and how many are @ the door without opening your door for them)

            If you like to keep your main door open + screen shut, then install a latch or door chain on the screen door.  (a $6-8 item - Priceless)

            Fire Extinguishers – You should have at least 3 (we have 6)  The first is for practice, (due to excitement!) others save property or life.

             The powder in the standard extinguisher that comes with your RV compacts as you travel -  Shake Periodically!    (every few months)

        (Our Extinguisher Placement - We have one beside the drivers seat and one in the glove compartment to help with escape if a fire starts while driving - one in the Kitchen away from the stove where a fire might occur - one in the sleeping area - one near the entry door - one in an outside Unlocked compartment.    We also have one in the car and one in our motorcycle.)    (We have had occasion to use 6 of them, luckily only once for ourselves)

There is a newly developed personal extinguisher - easy to operate, non-harmful to plants, animals and food,etc.  Check it out ---> “Fire-Out”  

                                    Lights – The more the safer  -  Headlights,  Brakelights, Directionals.   “Check Operation Often”    

           Keys  –  Do Not leave keys in ignition when fueling.      (don't give a thief an opportunity)

            Home Safety -   Did you ever happen to think of the safety of your home while you are traveling?     Here is a small thing that no one realy thinks about.

                                          (If you have a sign in your RV window saying  [Bob & Pat Smith -  Hometown, Ohio]  you are advertizing to everyone that at the Smith house in Hometown, Ohio there is   Nobody Home!!!)     If you leave off your last name or town  no one will know your house location)

ACCIDENTS  CAUSES – #1 Speed  to fast (dangerous) or   to Slow  (causing passing,  lane changing  etc. for other drivers)

 #2 Distraction  Your distractions or distractions of other drivers.   

 #3 Impatience  Your impatiences or impatiences of  other drivers.   (We wonder if this is becoming #1)

 #4 Turning or Slowing      Be aware of what is happening behind you!!  - Check Your Mirrors.  (I check 60% of the time while waiting  to turn)            (If you are stopping and awaiting oncoming traffic to go by while making a turn DO NOT turn your wheels - If someone rearends you they can knock you into a headon collision!!) 

 #5 Following Distance    Use the “2  Second Rule”  when driving a car.  With an RV  I do 3 to 4 seconds min. usually 5 to 8 sec.  Remember your 15,000 to 30,000 lbs. RV  does not stop like a 2,000lb car,    Anticipate what other drivers might do – so you are ready if something does happen.       (Note:  the "2 Second Rule"  is - pick an object ahead [building, telephone pole, guardrail etc]  when the vehicle in front of you reaches that object - count,  one thousand one, one thousand two - you should not have passed that point yet)

OVERNIGHTS -     Rest Areas - w/o security are NOT a safe place to stay.      “Most Dangerous”      (as commented by State Law Enforcement)

Parking Lots – Always ask to stay + Ask people or businesses about the safety of the Neighborhood you are about to stay in.      (One place we asked, they said there where 5  Break In’s on that street last night - we moved on)

Do not park @ outside edge of  parking lots     

(many say they like their privacy, so they park at the outside edge making them subject to crime from nearby woods, etc.)

                                    Park with door facing into parking lot, Not Out !!

Park directly under parking lot lighting

The busier the parking lot the safer     “Open 24Hrs”

Ask about staying in the parking lot, and tell Security too, many times they will keep an eye on you and your rig.

Don’t become a    Parking Lot Residence !    

VEHICLE SAFETY - Do a walkaround – every time you have stopped.  (Check - Tires, Wheel Bearings, Awnings, Tow Bars, Hitches etc.   and Listen + Smell)

                                    Do a walkaround – before backing up, many hazards can not be seen from inside your rig.  

                                    Do a walkaround – before you leave, (a tire could have gone down in pressure)  (We have heard where  someone will put a            broken bottle in front of your tire, then watch you drive away and blow your tire - cheap entertainment for them, but a $200 -$300 cost for you!)

Do not overload your vehicle  (get it weighed – each wheel)  

                                    Check tire pressures periodically + know what tire pressures should be   (get it weighed) and check vehicle weight info tag for recommended pressure + tire manufacturers inflation chart.         (If you have dual wheels and pressure in one is just 10lbs lower, that tire is being dragged 7ft every mile you drive-wearing it out and heating it up! )     (I was doing a seminar one day and a gentlemen said he hit something on the road and blew a rear dual and had a new tire put on.  A month and a half later he noticed that new tire showing canvas, they had installed a tire a size smaller)      (There are monitors that watch your tire pressures and thus can prevent over 90% of all Blowouts.)      Check Out --> Tire Monitors

        Leaving Your Vehicle Alone:   Here is a few little things we do to help keep our vehicle safe when we are away from it, off  Siteseeing.

                                    1. We've had sliding windows in our RVs        We place a small piece of wood (molding or dowel?) in our window track to only allowing the window to open about 4 to 6 inches and help keep the rig cool, but not enough so someone could reach in and unlock it.

                                    2.  If you have a ladder on the back of your rig -   There is a safety product used for years successfully for security on buildings and is now available for RVs     Check out ---> “Ladder Guards”        (This is a new popular criminal entry , by having a child climb your ladder, break through your roof vent and unlock your door for others to steal the RV's contents.)

                                    3.  We have a sign that we put in the door window saying  "Sleeping - Do Not Disturb"   (So if someone came up to what they thought was an empty vehicle to break in, now they think someone is sleeping inside)    If leaving our trailer I put 2 signs on it saying  "If Alarm is Sounding Please Call Police or 321-123-4567" (our phone#)   (So if someone came up to what they thought was a trailer to break in to, now they think an alarm will sound and someone will probably call)    

                                    4.  Some people have told us they have a sign saying "Protected by 357mag" or  "Owner is Armed"   (Not a good Idea!! - this also tells a thief that there are guns inside to steal !!  which can make them more determined to break in.)    (an Alarm System sticker can be more effective)

  DRIVING  SAFETY - Drive with your Headlights on –   “Be Seen”

                                    DO NOT follow to close –  2 second rule is standard -3 to 4 sec.  safer (With Our RV I do 5 to 8 Seconds)

Drive at a safe speed – RVs    especially those towing   Do Not stop quickly.

Always wear your  Seatbelts.                       Remember -  RVs Do Not Dent + Bend like steel cars.  

(While a couple traveling in New Hampshire where driving the streets of town searching for an address - they did not notice the low branch of a big oak tree.  It hit the right front top corner of the RV and tore the roof on an angle from 2ft behind the passenger to 4ft behind the driver - after a terrible noise they looked back and there was only floor from there back - no walls, cabinets or appliances)                            (another incident was a travel trailer that the driver fell asleep, they went off the road into a field rolling the trailer, leaving the frame bare and the parts where picked up by 3 dump truck loads)

If you see traffic building up behind you, always use any pullouts + slow lanes. (you Look Slow!)

                                    Always use your turn signals + allow time for  them to be seen before turning+ ** Use Your Rear View Mirrors **

                                    When night driving or driving in poor weather – reduce speed,  increase following distance and use your headlights.

Know Your Height -   Measure the highest point of your RV and add 2" then put a label on your dash so it's in sight.    

                                                 Hint:  We polish our Windshield  - for clarity daytime and during rain - we have not used our wiper on the road for over 10  years.      For more info.   Check Out --->  ENVY  Products   

                 Medical -      If you have a Medical Condition, Medical Emergency or Accident - It's good to have Personal Medical Info. handy, But How?    

   One couple told us they got 3 Rescue Facts for Seatbelts and sent one to their daughter who is Diabetic - One day while driving she blacked out and crashed her vehicle.  When Rescue arrived they started treating her as an accident victim till they reviewed "Rescue Facts" then started assessing and treating her immediately as a diabetic.      Valuable Time was Saved !     Check Out --->Rescue Facts 

Co-Pilots -   

Attention !   Co-Pilots!  Learn to drive your RV  (Just Think!!  - just a driver’s twisted ankle, and you can be stranded)  

(If your driving by a large empty parking lot - stop and you drive your rig around the parking lot  [watch the lightpoles]  get used the the feel and even backup a time or two if possible -  so that you can drive it even a few miles if you HAD TO)        Then maybe once an awhile drive on the Interstate too. 

Co-Pilots -  Don’t Walk Around !!  your rig when traveling.     (we know someone who was just getting up to get a drink when a car pulled out of a side road and the driver had to hit the brakes.  The passenger came rolling end over end and slammed into the dashboard breaking a rib, a collar bone and spraining their wrist)

TOWING SAFETY –   Every time you connect your trailer or towed vehicle check running lights, directional lights, brake lights and brakes.             (we have seen RVs towing cars or trailers that did not have operational rear lighting for Years!!)

At Every Stop  Do a walkaround - check all points of  your hitch, tow bar + all connections + tires and wheel bearings                                    

Put Locks on your Hitch  -  Tow Bar - Trailer.        (at one shopping center in Georgia police told us they had 6 disconnects within 2 weeks - where pranksters would pull your safety pins or unlatch hitches sometimes even while owners where in their RV)            (we had someone at a rest area unlatch our 5th wheel hitch and our trailer dropped as we pulled out)

(An rv pulled into a Rest Area and a woman asked them, did you know your dragging 2 cables and a cord ?  Their car was missing !!    A trucker told them "Yah, it"s the talk of the CB, it's about 100 miles back"  What had happened was the vehicle disconnected, crossed the medium, crossed the oncoming lanes, and ended up parked  in their breakdown lane.  The State Police told them they have been seeing some crimes like this involving High End RVs where they pull one of your hitch pins then follow you when you leave. When you realize a problem and pull over they pull over to help.  The Police said and they know right where the safe is!)

                                    Periodically check all mounting bolts + welds on trailer hitch + tow bar + hitch plates, etc.         

                                    (in the past 5 years we have alerted owners 8 times of their towbar or tow vehicle bracket or trailer hitch falling off - due to loose or missing bolts, broken or cracked welds and torn steel parts)

Do not tow more weight then your vehicle was designed to.  (check vehicle capacities chart) 

                                    (Most all RV manufacturers recommend  1000 or 1500 lbs max. trailer or  towed car  weight without brakes)

Install a towed vehicle braking system.   (Any  Weight Vehicle)       Check Out ---> Do I Need a Tow Brake + See a Brake System

WHY??     The laws,       Police Checks,        Insurance,        Court/Lawyers,                 For Loved Ones !!

(we spoke with one couple that where towing a car and had no tow brake and by no fault of their own, hit another car.      While in court the lawyer for the car owner ask them if they had a tow brake?  answer - No it is not required in my state.  Lawyer - what do you mean not required?  answer - my state requires a tow brake on anything over 3000lbs my vehicle weighs just 2810 lbs.  Lawyer - if you would have had a brake do you think you would have stopped sooner?  answer - I don't know, I guess.  Lawyer - do you think you would have stopped 50ft sooner? 25ft sooner?   answer - I  don't know.    Lawyer - in fact if you would have stopped just 5 ft before this vehicle this accident would never had happened would it?       The jury found them negligent because they apparently knew there where tow brakes available and what they did but did not have one.        Their insurance company paid, but if they would have been like many RVers who load their trunks and back seats for extra storage and their weight being 3,001+ lbs their insurance company could have left them on their own because they where operating illegal !!)

Did You Know a 4,000 to 5,000 Lb. Car Can Apply 16,000 to 20,000 Lbs. of  Inertia  to The Back of Your Coach in a Panic Stop            That can get interesting in a turn !!  

(we recently met 2 couples both towing cars with Prevost MotorCoaches - the front one had Tow Brakes, the rear one Did Not.   They had a situation where they Had to Stop!!   The rear rig Did Not quite stop as quickly !  Hitting the front tow car, pushing it up over the tow bar so it hit the rear of the front RV about 3 feet off the ground.)

How fast can an accident happen ??   Look at it this way - figure your speed times 1 1/2  this equals the number of feet per second you are traveling !!

Tow Bars - Must be Level or Maximum of  4”  Higher on RV end !   Higher can put you out of Control and/or Stress your hitch, tow bar and Base Plate.        (have you ever noticed someones tow brackets on their car bent down ??      What happens to your RV in a panic stop is the nose of the RV dives and the backend raises - if your towbar is angled up this increases the angle then the towed vehicle is pushing on that angled towbar using it as a lever lifting the RV  even More, then the nose of the car dips and increases that angle even More!!      When you release the brakes on the RV  it now has to come down and the car has to be forced out of the way so it can come down.    "Stress" + Bent Tow Brackets)        

(We spoke to one woman that when she had to hit the brakes hard and the towbar actually folded under and the RV came down on the hood of the car - it took two Large Tow Trucks to lift the RV off the car !! )

Trailer Safety Chains "Crossed"-   Yes if you tow a bumper pull trailer and your chains are straight and you have a disconnect and the tongue of the trailer drops it can sway side to side effecting control of your vehicle - if the chains are crossed the trailer will drop into the "X" keeping it centered and in control !!    Note:  Several states have a law requiring chains crossed or subject to Fine!               Note: also keep your chains attached on 5th wheels and goosenecks to keep the trailer centered on the tow vehicle in the case of a disconnect.    

  TIRES -  what does  P215/65 R16  mean?    215 is Width in m/m     65 = Height to Width Ratio   R=Radial  B=Bias   16 = wheel diameter

            Tire Pressures – check vehicle weight info tag for recommended air pressure.      Best- get vehicle weighed (each wheel) + check tire   manufacturers inflation chart and observe tire wear over time.    Under Inflation  or  Over Inflation shortens the life of your tires + degrades handling.     (If you have dual wheels and one tire's pressure is just 10lbs lower, that tire is being dragged 7ft every mile you drive - wearing it out and heating it up! !  Also with dual wheels if a tire was running low it can bulge and rub against the other tire overheating the other sidewall then both tires blow !!   or  you notice it before they blow and change the tire, then in the near future that other tire fails due to it's damaged sidewalls)

(There are monitors that watch your tire pressures and thus can prevent over 90% of all Blowouts.)      Check Out --> Tire Monitors

            Cracks – 2/32 max depth.     (as recommended by some tire manufacturers)                     

The Sun –  does it dry and crack your tires ???      So why does your inside tire look the way it does ?? – Actually the most damage to tires comes from  Ozone + Oxygen that attack your tires and  "Lack of Use"  

Natural Polymers – in your tires work to the surface when tires flex – your tires will dry out more quickly when stored or when using most tire treatments .  

Tire Treatments - Most tire manufacturers will probably tell you that you are better off to use nothing.  That is because most products are high in petroleum distillates, silicones or teflons.                                What can you use??     Check Out --->  ENVY  Products   

DOT Code – ending in 2001    = 20th week of year of  01  (look for months old, not years)  When buying tires, ask them to show you the DOT     Code.     Michelin recommends replace tires every 5 yrs.            (Average life 5-7 years)

Balancing -  Properly balanced tires will reduce Tire Temp, Tire Wear + Front End Wear.  and gives you a smoother ride. (in short - saves you money + keeps you safer)     Automatic wheel balancers can not only keep your wheels and tires in balance all the time but keep your brake hubs or drums in balance also.              Learn more about --->  Automatic Wheel Balancers 

Tire Wear –  when should you change ?  Rule of thumb - Rear @ 2/32 “wear bars”   Front @ 4/32

Blow Outs –  what should you do ??    Hold the steering wheel firmly, Accelerate to the floor briefly – (to take control)  then gently take your foot off  the accelerator and allow your vehicle to slow without braking.       To Prevent over 90% of all Blowouts!      See --> Tire Monitors

Brakes -      All brakes can become hot enough to catch fire !   How hot is too hot?   If you can touch for 1 sec. w/o burning - probably 120deg (skin burns @150F)  Fade will probably begin @ 200-300   Brake Smoking 400-500degF     

                 To Prevent OverHeating -   Minimize brake use by descending long grades @ slower speeds and downshifting (use 1st or 2nd gear if you have to)  Apply brakes for short firm intervals, Do Not Ride the brakes.   The slower you go the less your brakes will heat up and you have a better chance of stopping to let your brakes cool, if Fade or Smoking is noted!    If you travel a lot in mountainous areas an  Exhaust Brake  is highly suggested.      Note -  If brakes have overheated multiple times or have Severely Smoked  the heat can damage brake linings, seals and even melt the grease out of the Wheel Bearings and Boil the Brake Fluid.

BRAKE  FLUID -  Yes brake fluids need attention too.  Did you know many European Countries during vehicle inspection they inspect brake fluid + require fluid changes.  Brake fluid will absorb moisture and it can  cause corrosion + pitting @ master cylinders,  wheel cylinders, calipers, steel lines, ABS components, etc. also moisture can reduce brake fluid’s  boiling point by 50% or more and cause BRAKE FAILURE!!   Driving in mountains can overheat your fluid too.               Recommended  change every 3 years.      Silicone is good,   Synthetic is  Best        (There have been numerous accidents in mountainous areas where when the accident investigation is complete there was no cause found, so it is listed as Driver Error - what probably happened was the brake fluid had Boiled causing Brake Failure, but when the fluid cooled the brakes would be fine again)

BATTERY REPLACEMENT -  Always replace ALL coach batteries or  ALL house batteries – not 1 or 2 @ a time. When a battery is replaced the other old batteries in the circuit will drag the new battery down and may cause it to never take a full charge again after later replacing the others when they go bad.     (Summary - it will cost you less  in the long run to change All Batteries)


PROPANE -  When  getting your propane filled  BE SURE your refrigerator, hot water heater, furnace etc. are all turned off, then close all valves on your propane tank Before Filling.     Fumes during filling can be ignited by a pilot or an appliance that auto-starts.      BOOM !!!


Electrical   Hook UpsFor your safety and that of all your electrical and electronic devices on board.    Before plugging in at any campground, rally or  where ever,  always test the power with a  Volt Meter and a Circuit Tester.  [See Them Here]  Incorrect Wiring or High or Low  Voltage can damage electrical and electronic devices.         (We spoke with one couple who where excited about being the first ones to use a nice new section of a campground, until they plugged in and got Noise and Sparks and Smoke - when they plugged in they had 220 volts going through their coach.   It cost the campground over $1,800.00 to repair their coach)            (the two cheapest pieces of insurances you can get for your RV is a "Circuit Tester"  and a "Volt Meter")    to make sure the wiring is correct and the voltage is correct before you Plug In.

LIGHTENING -  During a severe lightening storm the safest actions you can take (for personal and electrical safety)

      Unplug your electrical connection – keeps lightening from entering your coach + Raise your Jacks – your tires insulate you from grounding out.       (we have done this 3 times ourselves)

For full time protection against electrical mishaps and lightening damages there are several Voltage Controllers on the market -  Here is feature for feature,  the Top Voltage Controller we have found out there!!

Water  Damage - Prevention -    Turn off your Water Pump when traveling or leaving your vehicle for the day. When your traveling down the road your vehicle is bumping and jarring and twisting, this is the time most possible to develop a water leak.     If your pump is On it could empty the entire contents of your water tank into your Trailer or your RV  before any gets to the drivers seat alerting you there is a leak !!

Ladder Safety –     Use at proper angle – do not overload – do not climb to high up the ladder.     (The proper angle to use a ladder is:       Stand with your toes touching the base of the ladder, stand straight up and put your arms straight out "like sleep walking" the ladder step in front of you should be @ your hand, Not closer "to straight" or Not farther away "leaning to much")              Check Out the "Original" and Still the Best  Telescopic Ladder


This Information Brought To You Complements Of:             “Discount” RV, Marine + Sport Supply


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