Planning to drive across the country in your RV? If you're like many who are doing RV safety checks and getting ready for vacation, add carbon monoxide (CO) safety to the checklist.
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colourless, tasteless, and odourless gas. It's known as the “silent killer.” It’s produced when gasoline, oil, kerosene, natural gas, wood, or propane burns incompletely. In RVs and during camping, these incidents occur too often, even though they can be prevented. Check out these tips to keep your next RV adventure fun and safe.
Install and maintain your carbon monoxide alarm
- Newer models of RVs usually come with a carbon monoxide (CO) alarm.
- If you don’t have a built-in carbon monoxide (CO) alarm, you can buy a portable, battery-operated one.
- Be sure to test and replace the alarm per the manufacturer’s instructions and replace the batteries (on both hardwired and battery-operated detectors). An easy way to remember to replace batteries is to do it when you head out for the first time each season.
Install and maintain your fire alarm
Fire can happen while you're on vacation, and it's critical to have a properly installed working smoke alarm when seconds count.
- Install and maintain at least one smoke alarm in your RV near the sleeping area.
- Battery-operated smoke alarms are available from most hardware stores.
- Depending on the size of your RV and placement of sleeping areas, more than one smoke alarm may be required.
- Learn more about fire safety from the Office of the Fire Commissioner at www.gov.bc.ca/FireSafety
Ensure that all travelers in your RV know what the sound of each type of alarm indicates and what to do when they hear it.
Watch your generators
Exhaust leaks from a generator are a common cause of carbon monoxide (CO) incidents.
- Inspect the generator's exhaust system each time before using it.
- Don't use your generator if the exhaust system is damaged or making an unusual noise.
- Camping close to other vehicles that are running their generators? Keep your windows and roof vents closed to prevent exhaust from entering your vehicle.
- If you use a portable generator, place the generator downwind of the RV with the exhaust pointed away from the camping area.
- Don’t sleep while the generator is operating and leave a roof vent open while its running, even during the winter.
- Not feeling well? Shut off the generator and step outside for fresh air to be sure you aren’t being exposed to carbon monoxide.
Stay warm safely
- Fuel-burning appliances such as portable heaters, portable stoves, barbeques, or kerosene lamps must be used outside of your RV.
- Inside, never use range burners or the oven to heat an RV. When using the stove, keep the range fan on and always leave a window cracked open for fresh air and ventilation.
- If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning while using appliances attached to your RV, turn them off immediately. Open doors and windows and leave the RV. While the area is being ventilated, seek medical assistance.
Have your camper, trailer, or RV serviced by a Certified Recreational Vehicle technician
- Inspect your RV's chassis and generator exhaust system regularly. Check it before each outing and after bottoming out or any incident that may cause damage.
- Inspect your RV for openings in the floor or sidewalls. If you locate a hole, seal it with a silicone adhesive or repair it before using your generator again.
- Inspect windows, door seals, and weather strips to ensure that they are sealing properly.
- Do you see yellow flames in propane appliances like coach heaters, stoves, ovens, and water heaters? This usually means incomplete combustion and servicing may be needed.
Keep exhaust away
- Park your RV so that exhaust dissipates away from the vehicle.
- Be sure there is lots of clear space around you when you park. Don't park next to high grasses, snowbanks, fences, walls, or buildings.
- When stopped, be aware of vehicles around you. For example, tractor-trailers at rest stops may have their engines running, creating exhaust.