Fire safety is important whether at home or in a recreational vehicle. The best way to limit fire risk is by prevention. Follow the manufacturer's instructions on the use of all appliances and observe all safety warnings and instructions included.
Before camping, make certain the locations of all safety equipment inside the coach and all emergency exit windows as well as doors. An escape plan for emergencies, whether at home or camping, is always a good idea.
Egress or "Emergency Exit" windows are labeled from the factory with the word EXIT. All egress windows can be distinguished by red operational handles or levers. Dependent upon the window type, an egress window may be a large section or an entire window. Review the locations and operational instructions posted upon the window with all passengers.
Each recreational vehicle includes a fire extinguisher, which is located near the main entry door. The fire extinguishers are rated for Class B (gasoline, grease, and flammable liquids) and Class C (electrical) fires. Test and operate according to manufacturer instructions.
If you smell propane gas, immediately stop what you are doing and get everyone outside away from the area. Ensure that all open flames are extinguished. Do not turn on any lights or thermostats as a static discharge could ignite the propane gas. Close all gas tanks or cylinder valves. Stay outside until a professional has resolved the issue.
Potential sources of propane gas leak sources
You've probably seen them on your RV wall and wondered which one was which - LP, smoke or carbon monoxide (CO). Any new RV produced today is required to have all three (3) detection devices installed. If you have an older coach and don't have all of these installed, we recommend that you look into acquiring them on your next trip to the hardware store.
Smoke detectors are the most common found in recreational vehicles. They vary in size, shape and sensitivity. They are also usually the culprit when it comes to LP gas detector problems. In most cases, the "chirp" of a low battery on a smoke detector sounds exactly like a "low power" beep on an LP detector. This is one of many good reasons to always keep an extra battery available for your smoke detector. Due to the general small size of an RV compared to a house, usually only one (1) smoke detector is necessary. Smoke detectors are always mounted to or near the ceiling, and usually between the kitchen and bedroom. Always be sure to periodically check your detector for proper operation as all smoke detectors are equipped with a test button for this procedure.
The next most common detector in an RV is an LP gas detector. These are designed to sound an alarm when an LP gas leak develops in an RV. Remember, sometimes a smoke detector with a low battery sounds like an LP detector. You may also get an alarm when certain cleaning sprays or hair sprays are used; therefore, always try to keep such aerosols away from the detector. Since this detector is connected directly to your RV's 12-volt system, it won't be necessary to keep an extra battery. Each time this detector is turned on, an alarm will sound for approximately 60 seconds. After the alarm has stopped, the detector should be fully functional. As with the smoke detector, the LP detector is equipped with a test/reset button for periodic checks; however, instead of mounting an LP detector on the ceiling, the opposite holds true. All LP detectors are mounted at the floor level due to the fact that LP gas is heavier than air. In the past, LP detectors were designed to shut off gas to all LP gas appliances when an alarm sounded. Due to false alarms and the subsequent loss of heat and refrigerated food, RV's no longer have this type of detector installed. Today's LP detectors are designed only to sound an alarm, as they alert you even when only low levels of LP gas are present.
In the past few years carbon monoxide detectors have become more frequent in households. I personally have two installed in my house. Carbon monoxide detectors are designed to detect a type of gas that is a normal by-product of engine exhaust or a result of an improperly burning gas furnace or water heater. Presently, carbon monoxide detectors are required to be installed in an RV, including travel trailers and fifth wheels prepped for generators. Due to the relatively new technology in producing carbon monoxide detectors and the natural low level occurrence of carbon monoxide in the air, some false alarms can happen. However, if an alarm sounds, please follow the recommendations set forth in the instructions. As new technology comes out, new carbon monoxide detectors will be more and more "false alarm" proof. New carbon monoxide detectors are also coming out that can be operated solely by battery power, thus allowing more flexibility in selecting a mounting location. Carbon monoxide detectors are usually mounted on walls and approximately five feet from the floor. As with smoke and LP detectors, carbon monoxide detectors are equipped with a test button for periodic checks. If the detector fails to test properly, follow the instructions listed in the detector's owner's manual.
Potential sources of carbon monoxide
All detection devices in your RV should be checked on a regular basis for proper operation. The best method of doing this is following the guidelines set out in each respective owner's manuals.