RV FIRE SAFETY
All RVs Are At Risk!
How Common Are RV Fires?
RV Fires yearly estimates depend on who you ask, but range from 2,000 to 4,000, to 6,000 and even as high as 20,000. RV fires occur every day in the United States. What is certain is that fire is one of the leading causes of RV loss. It doesn’t matter whether the RV is parked or moving for a fire to occur.
The most common areas for fires to start are the kitchen, the engine area and the wheel area.
If you need a reminder of the dangers of RV fires, check these links before reading any further!
Dogs Rescued From RV Fire:
Firefighters battle RV Fire:
RV Fire – 6 Minutes to Total Destruction:
Fire safety in your RV is important because there are so many ways a fire can occur. Minimizing RV fire risks should be a top priority. This is more than just making sure that fire detectors and extinguishers are operating as designed.
Fires can spread fast in an RV. Have an exit plan. Put together an Emergency VIP Bag. This bag contains important items, documents, and cash so that you can grab these quickly and take them with you.
Learn how to operate all windows and make sure they will open for an emergency exit. All travelers should know the exits and the designated meeting place after escaping a fire.
Have at least two escape routes and an escape plan.
Keep a spare set of keys handy for your towing vehicle for escape.
Educate All Travelers
Emergency exits should be identified to all your travelers. Verify that they function and demonstrate how to open them. Travelers should know how to open/operate the doors, windows, hatches, and emergency exits. They should also be instructed in the fire extinguisher’s location and operation. Practice fire escape with group and make sure everyone knows how to operate the doors, hatches, and emergency exits. Don’t smoke inside your RV.
If there is a fire:
Evacuate everyone from the RV and move a safe distance from the fire.
Small fire: extinguish it with a fire extinguisher.
Large fire: Get out and call the fire department. Never go back in – GET OUT AND STAY OUT.
You must know the number to call and your exact location. It’s crucial to know your location so firefighters can find you. This must be known ahead of the fire.
Recreational Vehicle Fire Safety and Maintenance
Your RV has many of the same fire risks as a home plus the risks of the vehicle’s engine. Many RV fires start in the engine area or within the wheel bearings and usually when the RV is in motion. Knowing this, maintenance is very important in fire prevention.
Regularly test your smoke, propane, and carbon monoxide detectors. Replace the batteries every 6 months. Mark it on your calendar or on your RV trip checklist. An important practice is to have a calendar with future dates for schedule maintenance, oil changes, wheel inspection, lubrications, and detector battery replacement.
Recreational vehicles, or RVs, are required by the NFPA to be equipped with at least one portable fire extinguisher. You should have three fire extinguishers for your RV--one in the kitchen, one in the bedroom, and one outside in an unlocked compartment or in your tow vehicle. Make sure every traveler knows where they are located and how to properly use them. These instructions, to every traveler, should be given before the trip begins.
When should I replace my portable fire extinguisher?
Professional inspections are not required for portable fire extinguishers in RVs, but you should regularly inspect your fire extinguishers. Make sure the extinguisher in not damaged. The gauge should continue to show in the green area. Replace the extinguisher after any use. Some fire extinguishers can be refilled. A common size is a 2 ½ pound extinguisher. However, a 5-pound extinguisher will be more effective in fighting a fire. During your monthly inspection, check the fire extinguisher gauge to determine if there is proper pressure in the extinguisher. A non-gauged fire extinguisher has a plunger that you push in and it comes back out if the pressure is adequate. Invert and shake your dry-powder or dry-chemical extinguisher monthly to loosen the powder.
Do not pull the pin and expel the contents to test your fire extinguisher. If you do expel some of the content, you must have the fire extinguisher refilled or replaced immediately. Check your fire extinguisher every month.
The most common RV fires are electrical and oil fires, so the fire extinguisher should be one that can put out these types of fires.
The NFPA requires that all RVs must have a B:C rated fire extinguisher.
Classes of Portable fire extinguishers
Class A includes ordinary combustibles like wood, paper, fabrics, plastics, etc.
Class B extinguishers are intended for flammable liquids and gasses like gasoline or diesel fuel.
Class C are to be used for fires involving live electrical equipment (electrical fires).
Class D and Class K are used for metals or cooking fires involving oils.
Guide to Fire Extinguishers: Click Here: https://www.telgian.com/fire-extinguishers-guide/
RV specific detectors are probably best, but regular home type detectors should get the job done. The detector should have a test button for the alarm and if battery operated, a battery testing button. Some have a beeping sound for a low battery warning. Individual detectors for smoke, carbon monoxide, and propane are available. Combination carbon monoxide/propane detectors are also available. Test smoke, carbon monoxide and propane detectors regularly and before every trip
Smoke alarms play an important role when it comes to the outcome of RV fires. The vast majority of the 24 average annual RV fire deaths occurring in RVs lack smoke alarms. On average, 20 deaths a year occurred between 2008 and 2017 in RV fires when no smoke alarm was present, while only one death occurred in fires in RVs with working smoke alarms. Test your smoke detector. It is useless if it doesn’t function. Smoke detectors will warn you of a fire or excessive smoke in your RV. Have at least one in the kitchen area. Depending on your RV, having additional smoke detectors may be advisable.
At least one alarm: RV is less than 21 feet long
At least two alarms: RV larger than 21 feet long
Location of smoke detectors: on the ceiling near the kitchen and near the bedroom
Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Carbon Monoxide is an invisible, tasteless, colorless, odorless, and deadly gas. Carbon monoxide results from incomplete burning of propane and other materials. It is produced when solid, liquid, and gaseous fuels (such as gasoline, oil, wood, natural gas, or propane) burn incompletely. It can also come from things like a car running in the garage, a leak from another vehicle or generator located close to you, or a gasoline-powered generator.
Carbon Monoxide is found in fumes produced by:
vehicles “warmed up” in garages
faulty propane appliance
burning charcoal and wood
Make sure that the generator
Is not close to an ignition source of its gasoline fumes
The exhaust is away from the camping area and RV
The exhaust heat cannot ignite anything close to it
If you must use a heater, only use portable electric heaters that automatically shut off if tipped over or if they overheat. A fuel-burning heater can start a fire or produce carbon monoxide gas. Never sleep while heaters are on.
If your RV has been parked or stored for a week, check the exhaust pipe/system and the flue to make sure they aren’t blocked by materials, bird nests or animals. This is to avoid fires or carbon monoxide entering your RV.
A carbon monoxide detector CANNOT detect propane. A propane detector CANNOT detect carbon monoxide. People who use propane for their heating or cooking needs may mistakenly feel that they are protected, when in fact they really are not. A CO detector can’t detect a leak in a propane tank. Again, carbon monoxide alarms ALONE do NOT detect propane/methane/natural gas leaks. Carbon monoxide sensors detect ONLY carbon monoxide, not raw fuel or fumes. Combination detectors designed to handle both smoke and carbon monoxide are available.
Be sure to put your CO detector in the bedroom. The proper location is on the ceiling or on an inside wall at least eight inches from the ceiling and at least four feet from the floor. Test your smoke and CO alarm batteries twice a year.
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The remainder of this article covers safety of:
Detector False Alarms
Instructional Videos on Fire Extinguishers
Our Doctors In RVs, Exclusive 4-page PDF
RV Fire Safety Checklist