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RVing and the freedom that it offers can be one of the most rewarding and exciting lifestyles and means of travel. However, it’s important to take certain safety precautions to ensure this dream lifestyle doesn’t turn into a nightmare. Nothing can ruin a fun road trip like an emergency situation, especially one that could have been prevented.
This article provides 12 tips for staying safe while RVing. Whether you’re a full-timer or a weekend warrior, we hope these tips help you stay safe and happy so you can enjoy your RV to the fullest.
1. Do an RV Safety/readiness Check Every Time You Start Driving
One of the best things you can do to help you stay safe while RVing is to make some checklists. It’s good to have a checklist to help you remember all of the things that you need to do before you leave and when you arrive at your campsite. Over the years, we have made several silly mistakes because we were rushed or not paying attention that could have turned out much worse. Had we been using a checklist, those things might not have happened.
This site has a checklist for every occasion that the author has gathered from all over the internet. Also, RV Planet has a free road-ready checklist that could be really helpful as you get started. Another good idea is to search the app store as there’s bound to be an RV checklist app for your smartphone.
2. Know Your Driving Route Prior to Departure
Most of us rely on GPS to help us get where we are going. In everyday life, you don’t think much about how you are going to get to a given place. You hop in the car, tell your phone to take you to the nearest whatever, and you’re off. When you’re traveling by RV, however, relying too heavily on GPS and not planning ahead can lead you to a difficult and/or dangerous situation.
Apple and Google Maps are great, but they aren’t the best tools if you are driving a 40-foot rig with a 12’8” height clearance. The last thing you want to deal with on your RV trip is figuring out what to do when you realize your RV won’t fit under that overpass… yikes.
Luckily, there are RV specific GPS units where you can enter your RVs information and the GPS unit will plan safe routes for you and your RV. Now, these units are not perfect, but they are better than Google or Apple Maps. This Garmin RV GPS gets good ratings and you can get it on Amazon.
In addition to using an RV specific GPS, we recommend actually reviewing the entire route that you’re planning on taking before departing. Often times, the most direct route isn’t the best route for your RV. For example, the GPS might suggest county or farm road because it’s the most direct route, but county rounds tend to be bumpier rides. Our rule of thumb is to stick to US interstates, US highways, and state highways as much as possible. It might be less direct but often it is faster (and certainly more enjoyable) to stick to major roads.
3. Stay Abreast of the Weather
An RV is not the place you want to be during severe weather. Therefore, it’s important to stay tuned to the weather and the forecast. The last thing you want is to be stuck in your RV during a severe weather event when you could have easily moved if you’d been paying attention.
When it comes to the weather and traveling, it’s a really good idea to purchase an emergency weather radio. These radios tune into the NOAA Weather Service and help you be prepared for all types of emergency threats including tornadoes, floods, severe thunderstorms, civil danger warnings and more. These are particularly helpful since most RVers have no idea what country they are in as they travel state to state. With this radio, you’ll only be alerted if an alert is issued for the county you are in.
4. Keep a Clean Campsite to Avoid Unwanted Wildlife
You may love animals and the outdoors, but you probably don’t want wild animals coming into your campsite looking for food. Don’t put yourself (or the animal) in danger by having a dirty campsite. Keep food in proper storage containers and dispose of your garbage accordingly. Simple and easy – just do it.
5. Always Know Where The Closest Hospital is in Case of an Emergency
You may find yourself in an emergency situation that requires you to take yourself to the hospital. If that happens, you’re also likely in a place that doesn’t have cell service. You don’t want to deal with your emergency and figure out where the hospital is and how to get there. Whenever you pull into a new place, take two seconds and figure out where the closest hospital or urgent care is and note how you get there. If an emergency happens, you’ll be happy you did.
For Your Pets
6. Display a Pets Onboard Sign
One of our greatest fears is that we leave our RV and something happens to 1.) our pets or 2.) us while we are gone. A simple step you can take to give you peace of mind is to put a sign on your RV that lets people know there are pets on board and provides emergency contact numbers. We hope if our dogs are acting up or causing problems while we are gone, someone will call us and alert us. And, if we don’t return to our camper for a couple of days because something happens to us, someone may notice and alert our emergency contact.
7. Get a Pet Safety Monitoring Kit
If you travel full-time in your RV with a pet, inevitably you will need to leave your pet unattended. During summer months, RV’s can get very warm inside and you want to make sure that the temperature remains at a safe level while you are gone. RV parks are notorious for power outages that can turn off the AC. You need a way to be alerted if the temperature inside the RV rises to dangerous levels for your pet.
Ensure your pet’s safety by using an RV pet monitoring system. Pet monitoring systems are designed to monitor the temperature and humidity inside the RV and alert you once the temperature reaches a certain level. These alerts could save your pet’s life as you’ll know instantly that you need to get home or find someone to help you.
RV Pet Safety has a pet monitoring system that is perfect for RVers. The system works on Verizon’s 4G network. Through the phone app, you can actively monitor the temperature in real-time as well as be notified when the temperature reaches thresholds you’ve defined. Also, with built-in GPS, you can quickly share your exact location in the event that someone needs to help your pets. Don’t forget to use code FYD60 to get $60 off your order!
8. Always Know Where the Closest Emergency Services are Located
Just like knowing where the closest hospital for you is, it’s equally important to know where emergency services are for your pet. Depending on your location, you could be hours from the nearest facility with 24-hour services.
Once while RVing in Breckenridge, CO, our dogs got into a fight. Of course, it was after all of the vets in the area had closed. I remember frantically trying to find the closest 24-hour animal hospital while also trying to figure out how we could get them there since it was almost two hours away and it was snowing! We could have saved ourselves a lot of stress and time if we’d been more prepared. Also, had our dogs been seriously injured, the time we wasted searching for a facility could have been detrimental to their chance of recovery.
9. Don’t Let Your Pets Wander Alone when Boondocking
If your pets are anything like ours, they’re big fans of boondocking. They love being in nature, the space to roam and the many smells to smell. That being said, they have a tendency to find trouble if left unattended. They seem determined to eat things they shouldn’t or to seek out encounters with potentially dangerous (or smelly) animals.
To avoid these situations, or even worse, your pet getting lost, it’s best to prevent your pet from wandering unattended. If they like to be outside, simply use a long leash to give them some freedom but prevent them from finding their way into trouble.
10. Use a VPN to Protect Your Data While Online
Using a VPN(Virtual Private Network) is a good decision regardless of whether or not you travel or full-time RV, but if you do, it’s pretty much a no brainer. Most travelers rely heavily on public wifi networks at coffee shops, RV parks or restaurants for either work or entertainment. Public wifi networks are easy targets for hackers who want to steal your personal information.
By using a VPN, you can securely connect to the VPN’s servers and have your data encrypted – acting as a gateway between you and the open internet, helping to protect you from hackers. There’s lot’s of other benefits of using a VPN and they are very affordable, most costing less than $5/month.
Not sure where to start with a VPN? Check out ProPrivacy.com (formerly Best VPN) to learn everything you need to know about VPN’s. They also have comparative guides on all the major VPN providers so you can choose the best fit for you.
11. Share Your Location with Trusted Friends or Family
Use technology to help you stay safe while traveling. It’s a good idea to share your location with friends or family so that someone always knows where you’re at. We’ve noticed that we travel and change our location so frequently that our families typically only have a vague idea of our location.
We’ve tried several ways of keeping people up to date, but the easiest that we’ve found is dropping a pin on a map of our location and sharing it with someone we trust. It only takes a second but gives your loved ones your exact location.
We’re aren’t always the best at remembering to do it, but we always do it when we are boondocking and might be miles from the nearest town.
12. Don’t Post Your Exact Location on Social Media While You Are Still There
While you can use GPS and location services to help you stay safe, it’s important to understand that the same information can be used to cause you harm. There have been stories reported over and over again of someone coming home from a long vacation and finding their homes have been broken into, only to realize that they told the internet that they were going on vacation which meant that their house would be unoccupied.
With that in mind, we try not to reveal or post our exact location while we are still at that location. It’s worth noting that we’ve never had a problem resulting from someone knowing our location (nor have we heard any stories), but it still feels like common sense not to post to the world exactly where you are going to be at any given time. You can never be too careful in the world that we live in.
We absolutely love full-time RVing and believe it to be completely safe. That being said, you always want to make sure that you are doing whatever you can to minimize the risk of something bad happening. We hope these tips help you develop your own routines and practices to keep you and your family safe, happy, healthy and out there enjoying the best that this lifestyle has to offer.
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