RVs can have a higher fire risk compared to other vehicles because of their additional moving parts and onboard fuel, higher electrical draws, and in some cases cheap or quick assembly. The main cause of RV fires is often the refrigerator, followed by engine fires in motorhomes, brake fires in trailers, and electrical fires. Unfortunately, fires can happen to anyone at any time, and many RVs are made out of flammable materials like wood, pressboard, and metal. It’s critical to be prepared and equipped for fire.
Always Have a Plan and Practice It Often
Have an RV fire safety plan and practice it often, especially if you have kids or dependents who need extra assistance. If you use your RV for weekend trips, take time to refresh everyone’s memory on the safety plan and practice it before heading out. If you live in your RV full-time, practice different scenarios so everyone knows where to go and how to get out should a situation arise. Ensure that all of your emergency exits are clear, and have a backup plan in case one becomes blocked.
Equip Your Camper with the Right Tools
Check the fire safety tools you have on board. Chances are you have fire extinguishers for putting out a stove fire. Consider upgrading those extinguishers to something heavier duty. We swapped out our rig’s original fire extinguishers for ones filled with fire suppressants that can put out an airplane fire. These are nontoxic and have more output to clear a path without allowing the sprayed material to reignite.
To reduce the risk of a refrigerator fire, we added a self-deploying extinguisher to our unit. If a fire starts behind it—usually in the vents—the extinguisher will self-trigger and, hopefully, put it out before the fire spreads.
If you carry important documents on board, secure them in a fireproof bag or box. Be sure to remove any plastic folders that could melt.
Recommended RV Fire Safety Gear
Most RVs come with underpowered automobile extinguishers that satisfy the legal requirements, but might not be enough in the event of a major emergency. Also, most RV manufacturers place extinguishers only by the door, so consider getting more than one to have at key locations throughout your rig. Do your research on what came with your RV.
Have one in every section. Place them where you are going to be, not next to the door, where you need to go. If there’s a fire in the kitchen, can you get past the kitchen to the door? Review your plan and think about what setup would make it easiest to get out at any time of day.
Common causes of fires in RVs are electric or propane refrigerators, overheated engines and brakes, and an overloaded electrical system.
Keep your important travel documents, passports, and so on in a fire-safe bag or box. Remove all plastic that could melt and ruin any papers stored inside.
Have a plan and practice it often, especially when you have kids or dependents who need extra assistance. Always review your RV fire safety plan with everyone and practice it before heading out.
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