RV Safety Tips
By Diane Tait
|Image courtesy flickr|
Have you decided where you want to go for summer vacation? That question is easier said than done whether we’re talking about jumping on a jumbo jet or packing the family up in the car to head out on the road. The biggest bugaboos for most families are making connections and finding accommodations sight unseen. I’m sure you can remember a time or two when you arrived at a resort only to realize the photos online were decades old. Of course, if you own a recreational vehicle, most of these hassles are a thing of the past, since both transport and accommodations are built in. If you own or are thinking of renting an RV this summer, there are a few things you need to put on your checklist.
Back Up the Bus
One of the big differences between the RVs of yesteryear and those of today is the sheer size of today’s motorhomes. Some motorhomes today are the size of a Greyhound bus. That means you need to think your way around a turn and under low bridges. One of the good things about modern technology is nearly all RVs today come equipped with backup cameras that make it much safer to put a motorhome in reverse. (That still doesn’t mean you shouldn’t also use the vehicle’s sideview mirrors to keep you clear of obstructions.)
The Elephant Walk
|Image courtesy flickr|
Driving a big motorhome is a lot like riding an elephant. It’s slow to start and ponderous to control. But once it builds up a head of steam, look out. Don’t expect an RV to stop on a dime, or a silver dollar for that matter. When it comes to stopping, you need to think ahead. Way ahead. If you forget that an RV of any kind takes a long time to stop and you could stop your vacation in a hurry when you rear ends another vehicle on the highway or bowls over a stationary object when you try to park.
Preflight Checks are a Must
Another way for your dream vacation to turn into a nightmare is to have your RV breakdown on the road. Not only is it likely to cost you a small fortune to have a motorhome serviced in a town far from home, but you could also be out the cost of a tow and accommodations since it’s highly unlikely that the parts you need will be sitting on the shelf at the first service station you find. Therefore, before you roll onto the interstate, it behooves you to do a thorough preflight that includes checking tire wear and pressure, oil and transmission fluid levels, windshield wipers, lights and air conditioner to make sure that you’re good to go.
Don’t Overload your RV
Even though your motorhome might be nearly as big as a house, that doesn’t mean you should cram as much stuff inside it as you have in your home. Every RV bought and sold in the US has stated weight limitations for vehicle gross weight, tire gross weight and axle gross weight that are listed in the owner’s manual. Not only can overloading your RV cause mechanical problems with tires, brakes and transmission, an overloaded motorhome handles like a pig in slop. Also, for safety sake, make sure that any loose cargo is lashed down so it won’t slide around in the RV while the vehicle is underway.
Welcome to the Wired World
|Image courtesy PxHere|
One thing that most families can’t do without are their electronic devices. While all RVs come equipped with electrical outlets, unlike your home, don’t expect your motorhome to be able to handle the same kind of electrical load. Most RVs are only wired for 30-50 amps. That means you need to decide which is more important, running the microwave or the air conditioner. Chances are you can’t run both at once unless you are plugged in at a campground. You will also to use your cellphone as a WIFI hotspot or wait until you’re parked near a public hotspot to surf the web with anything other than your smartphone.
Who You Gonna Call?
The last thing you want to have happen is that you wind up broken down or in an accident only to find that your insurance has lapsed, or your policy doesn’t include roadside assistance. Before you pack the family up and head out on the road, make sure you take the time to review your insurance policy. Check out the policy limitations such as how far can your RV be towed before you have to pay, does your policy cover any trailer you choose to tow behind the RV or only the motorhome itself?
Do You Have any Reservations?
If you do plan on stopping at campgrounds along the way, make sure you make reservations in advance and ask what time the office closes. One of the worst things that RV owners hate is to arrive at a campground only it locked up for the night. If for some reason circumstances make it impossible to make it to a campground where you’ve booked a reservation, take the time to call the office to explain what happened or you could wind up being charged anyway.
The Crawl of the Open Road
While the call of the open road is infectious, getting stuck in heavy traffic or finding out the route you had your heart set on is under construction or is closed can put a damper on any trip. Therefore, I strongly urge you to check the weather and the route in advance and if you haven’t already signed up for Waze, do so at your earliest convenience. The app will not only help you navigate, but it gives you everything from live traffic alerts to obstacles on the road and police warnings that make route finding much less stressful.
The Call of the Wild
Depending on where you park or camp you can expect the local wildlife to treat your RV as an all-you-can-eat buffet. That means you have to be doubly cautious about how you handle your trash or cook your meals unless you want a marauding raccoon, mountain lion or bear to spoil your vacation by trashing your RV. Even smaller critters like wasps, bees, scorpions or reptiles can find their way onto your RV in seconds flat to make your dream vacation a bad remake of Snakes on a Plane.
Diane Tait owns and operates A&B Insurance. To find out more about how you can save money on home owner’s insurance, go to her site or fill out the form at right.