RVing provides a freedom that you can’t experience while living in a brick and mortar home. Some people worry that this freedom comes at the cost of safety. Others feel RVing is actually safer than living in a traditional neighborhood.
So, is RVing safe?
RVing is generally safe. As long as you set camp inside RV parks, national parks, and state parks you are typically safe from harm. Avoid remote areas where you cannot get help in case something happens.
Here are some crucial items to consider so that you can keep yourself safe while RVing.
Pay Attention To Remote Areas
RVs provide their owners with the opportunity to get off the beaten path and into many new and exciting areas. These areas are often remote areas far from civilization.
While most of these areas are safe, there are some challenges that need to be considered.
For example, first-responders may be much further away than they are when you’re at home. This means that if you need help from police, EMTs, and fire crews, you may have to wait longer than you’re used to.
For this reason, you may want to take extra precautions before accessing remote areas.
For instance, it may be a good idea to make sure you’re in good health before heading out into the wild. Also, bring along extra fire extinguishers so that you won’t have to rely on fire crews. Take along recovery equipment as well so that you can get out of areas even if you become stuck.
You May Experience Weather Conditions You’re Not Used To
People from Maine are used to cold weather and heavy snowfall. They know how to drive in the snow and they have all the right clothing and protective gear to survive cold weather.
Put these people in the middle of a snowstorm and they’ll know just what to do.
Take these same people and move them into a state that experiences wildfires and they might not know where to go or what to do.
Maine doesn’t often get wildfires and these people may have never experienced them. The same might hold true for people living in California where wildfires are common. Take these people and put them in a snowstorm in Maine and they may be in a lot of trouble.
Regardless of where you’re from, it is important that you know what weather and natural disasters you can expect in the areas you’ll be staying in and traveling through.
Research each area and come up with a plan for dealing with any hazards you might encounter before you head out on your trip.
Tourists Often Get Preyed Upon
Tourists often stand out.
A tourist will often dress differently, speak differently, and even act differently than the local population. This is true even in different parts of a single state.
For instance, a person living in Philadelphia and its surrounding suburbs will have a different accent and even a different vocabulary than someone living further west of the city.
These differences make traveling throughout the country fun and unique. Unfortunately, it also makes the people doing so a target to people who prey on tourists.
One way to safeguard against this is to be cautious around people who may offer advice or ask for favors. Project confidence and predators will move onto target easier prey.
Extra Security Doesn’t Cost That Much
While many people feel that RVs are less secure than traditional homes, quite often the opposite is true. It is much easier to increase the security of an RV than it is to increase the security of a large home.
Security cameras, GPS locators, and alarms can all be installed on an RV with relative ease.
Not only this, but you often have far fewer windows and doors to secure in an RV.
Before you head out on your journey, take some time to reinforce your doors and windows and add in any security features you feel will help keep you safe. Learn to use the security features before you head out and you’ll be armed with everything you need to provide a safe environment inside your RV.
Some Areas Are Safer Than Others
The world is a big place and some areas are simply more dangerous than others. Take some time to analyze the areas you might travel through or stay in before you set out so that you’ll know what to expect.
If you feel that an area is too risky to stay in, just avoid it.
There are many other low-crime areas for you to enjoy and you don’t have to stop everywhere.
One way to avoid high-crime areas is to use real estate website like Trulia and Zillow which provide heat maps that tell you what the crime is like in each particular area. If you notice an area has an unusually high level of crime, take a deeper look to see what types of crimes are being committed.
Discover a high amount of violent crime in an area and it may be best to avoid it.
Remember, things can change so if you feel you really want to visit a certain spot in a high-crime area you may be able to go back to it in a few years when the crime situation has been resolved.
An example of this could be an area that had some trouble with gangs but was later made safe as the gang activity was eliminated.
Access to Healthcare Isn’t Always Abundant
If you’re coming from a large city you might be used to an abundance of hospitals, out-patient clinics, and urgent care facilities.
When RVing through more rural areas, you may find that these services are much harder to access.
People with health issues might want to research each area ahead of time so that they know exactly where they can find care if they need it.
This is especially important for seniors. Here’s a guide we have made with special tips for RVing seniors.
This can alleviate some of the stress of traveling through new areas and just might even save a life.
Nature Can Be Dangerous
A person who has spent all of their life in the city or suburbs may rarely encounter a fallen tree or a flood. This makes them less cautious around trees and less knowledgeable of flood plains.
If you happen to be one of these people, you may want to do some research on flood plains and tree health.
Here are some tips to get you started.
- Never park near a tree that looks dead or damaged. (You can often tell a tree is dead if it does not have any leaves growing on it.)
- Don’t’ park near any trees in windy or stormy conditions.
- Don’t drive through roads where you can’t see the bottom of them due to standing water.
On top of this, you may want to watch out for other dangers that nature might present. For example, some areas of the country have volcanic activity. Camping in these areas is especially dangerous for people who are unfamiliar with them.
Do your research on each area before visiting and you’ll know exactly what to expect and how to deal with issues you may encounter.
Wildlife Can Be Dangerous
Some areas of the country offer RVers an up-close look at bears and other large predators. This can be a wonderful experience, but it can also be dangerous. Always practice caution around animals and view them from afar.
Also, be sure to practice proper food storage and keep your pets with you at all times.
Bears can break into RVs and vehicles to secure food for themselves and in some areas of the country, you’ll want to leave all of your food outside in bear containers so that you do not encourage bears to break into your vehicles.
Small pets can also be viewed as food by mountain lions and bears so it is critical that you keep them out of harm’s way.
Bugs and Insects Can Be Dangerous
Different parts of the country have different types of bugs and insects living within them. Often-times, these bugs and insects are harmless.
Other times, these bugs and insects can be dangerous.
When traveling, it can be hard to tell the difference between the two. Since you’re not from the area, you might be completely unfamiliar to the bugs and insects that can cause the most damage.
For example, did you know that some ticks found on the east coast of the United States can actually cause a person to develop an allergy to red meat?
These ticks are known as lone star ticks and they are easily identified by the white dot that sits on their backs. If you’re from the west coast, you might not have known this.
In this case, you’d have seen a large tick on you and assumed it wasn’t very dangerous since these types of ticks don’t carry Lyme disease.
Other bugs like spiders can be even more dangerous.
In the northeastern part of the United States, there are only two really dangerous species of spiders:
- One if the black widow
- and the other is the brown recluse.
In other areas of the country, you might find many more problematic spiders to contend with and you might not realize this until it is too late.
You may even be exposed to bugs you’ve never seen before and you might be uncertain as to how to deal with them. For example, I know that scorpions are dangerous but I’ve never lived anywhere that has them.
Before heading into a state with scorpions, I’d want to do some research on them so that I’d know what to do in an encounter with them.
The Roads Are More Dangerous at Certain Times
Studies show that more accidents happen during rush hour than at any other time of the day.
This makes sense as there are more vehicles on the road at that time.
As an RVer, you may want to avoid driving during rush hour. Plan your trip around this time so that you can take driving breaks at this time of day.
Another time of day that is more dangerous than other times is around 2:00 am on weekends. This is because bars close at 2:00 am and the chances of encountering a drunk driver go up immensely.
If you plan on traveling late at night, it might be best to do so during the week when there aren’t as many drunk drivers on the road.
Items in RVs Become Projectiles During Accidents
RVs are great because they give one the ability to take all the comforts of home with them out on the road. Having your favorite kitchen knife with you while you’re preparing a meal is fantastic.
However, having your favorite cooking knife with you when you’re in an accident can be really dangerous.
For this reason, you’ll want to make sure you secure everything within your RV before you start driving. This is especially true if your RV happens to be a motorhome as you’ll have all of your stuff with you in your vehicle as you drive.
Even people towing campers should look to secure their items before they take off. Stop suddenly while towing a camper and your unsecured pots and pans could end up flying out your camper’s window. This is unsafe for both you and other drivers.
Besides, who wants to lose their favorite pan because they had to step on the brakes a little harder than usual?
Trailers and Motorhomes Have Weight Limits
While it might be tempting to bring everything you own with you out on the road. It is important to remember that your RV has a weight limit.
Not only this, but your tow vehicle has a limit to how much it can tow as well.
Many accidents have been caused by people who have decided to tow more than their tow vehicle can safely handle.
Always check your weight limits and your towing limits before you head out and your RV trip will be much safer for it.
Here’s a complete guide we have made to weight stations and RVs. It’s better to be on the safe side!
Also, be sure to use the right equipment when towing higher weights. For example, to reach maximum towing capacities, you may need to use a weight distribution hitch. You may also need to use stabilizer bars and electronic brakes (read more here).
These items need to be purchased and installed before you decide to leave the dealership with your RV.
Have them installed correctly and learn how to use them properly and your trip will be much safer because of it.
Fires Can Spread Quickly in an RV
Bring a fire extinguisher with you on the road and know how to quickly exit your RV if needed. RV doors can be blocked and fires can spread very quickly in an RV.
When the fire is spreading through your RV, you won’t have time to learn how to open your emergency hatch.
Learn how to use any emergency windows or hatches before you take your first trip in your RV and review this information annually. Memorizing this knowledge will make your chances of surviving a fire much higher.
Also, be sure to have the right equipment in your RV to detect fires. A smoke alarm and a carbon monoxide detector are critical safety components in an RV and should not be overlooked.
RV Interiors Need Air Flow
RVs can easily fall victim to condensation issues. This is true even in dry desert climates. Provide your RV with air flow by opening windows and using ventilation fans whenever possible.
This is especially important when cooking, showering, or sleeping.
The reasons for this when cooking and showering are obvious as showers and boiling pots of water put off steam. What might not be so obvious is that people expel a large amount of water into the air through breathing. Sleep for 8 hours without ventilation and you might wake up to wet walls and foggy windows.
Avoid this issue by cracking a window or running a vent fan in your RV as you sleep and you’ll avoid all of the health issues that can come from a moisture-laden RV.
You May Not Always Have Access to Electricity
Just because your RV has outlets, doesn’t mean they’ll be able to provide you with a steady supply of power.
This means that you may not always have the ability to keep medicine cool, to keep life-saving equipment running, or to provide yourself with heating and cooling.
Create backup methods for cooling, heating, and running necessary equipment so that you’ll never be without them.
Failing this, pack the right equipment and clothing so that you can deal with adverse temperatures even when you do not have access to electricity.
RVing can be safe for people who are prepared for RV life and it can be dangerous for people who are unprepared for it.
Do your research and prepare for everything in advance and you can make life in an RV and safe and fun experience. Fail to do your research and neglect to plan for issues that might arise and you could easily find yourself unprepared for life on the road.
Morten is the founder of GoDownsize. He has filmed and interviewed people living in tiny houses and RVs since 2011. He grew up on the coast where his dad took him boating from a young age. He has completely rebuilt two RVs in which he travels with his family for months at the time. Read more about Morten here.