Safety and Security Tips for Traveling in your RV

Traveling into the great unknown can be a lot of fun. Discovering new places adds excitement to an RV trip. Yet many people worry about RV safety. RV security is an important factor to consider and there are things you can do to increase the security of your RV, no matter where you are traveling.

RVing has become one of the most popular ways to travel. But a successful and safe RV trip takes preparation and planning to make it a good experience. Whether you are new to RVing or not, these tips can help ensure that your trip will be problem-free.

Embarking on an RV adventure brings the promise of freedom and exploration but ensuring safety as you travel in your RV is critical. In this article I delve into the realm of RV security providing key safety measures to safeguard your RV while you travel.

Cracker Barrel in Goodyear, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Be aware of your surroundings: A critical crime-prevention tool

This rule of thumb sounds obvious but it can be easy to forget. Whether you’re parked at a Walmart or Cracker Barrel or boondocking in a national forest, always be aware of what’s around you. When you stop somewhere, get out and take a look around before you commit to staying. We’ve stopped in places where we just didn’t feel safe. Rather than try to talk ourselves into it, we’ve moved on.

We’ve also learned that those uncomfortable feelings are a matter of perspective. We’re more cautious when we’re in the backcountry in areas that are unfamiliar to us. Use your best judgment and only stay in places where you are comfortable.

Leave temptation behind: Keep valuables hidden

Though it may seem obvious, you should never leave valuables in plain sight and unattended. Laptops, smartphones, cameras, and other personal belongings should be stored when they are not in use.

This one seems pretty obvious. To eliminate temptation put all your things away prior to leaving your site. This could include camping chairs, cooking equipment, and/or firewood. Don’t make it easy for them!

Don’t litter your site with valuables. Put away tablets, cell phones, and extra gadgets. Pull the blinds after dark in your rig. Don’t be a lone ranger; camp near other people. Get a safe. Each of these simple steps will keep robbers at bay.

Camping with your dog © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Set up your campsite with security in mind

From the moment you park your RV, you should start thinking about security. For instance, most RVers reverse into their parking spot but this means that your rig is more accessible.

Also, take a good look at your surroundings and follow your gut feeling. If something about the spot can become a security risk, you’re better off finding a space that feels safer.

If you’re bringing your furry friends with you, you’ll also need to think about their well-being. Therefore, you’ll need to follow RV pet safety best-practices like sweeping for choking hazards and making sure you’re far from a busy road.

Lock it down: The importance of robust door and window locks

One of the first lines of defense for your RV is secure entry points. Invest in quality door and window locks to thwart potential intruders. Consider upgrading to smart locks that provide added convenience and control through mobile apps ensuring you can monitor and secure your RV even when you’re away exploring.

One of the easiest ways to deter thieves is to simply lock your doors anytime you leave, no matter how long you’re going to be gone.  Also, make sure to close and lock exterior storage compartments.

Camping at Lost Dutchman State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Illuminate and deter: Motion sensor lights for enhanced security

Enhance your RV’s security by strategically placing motion sensor lights around your vehicle. These lights not only illuminate the surroundings at night but also serve as a deterrent to potential intruders. The sudden burst of light can startle and discourage unwanted visitors adding an extra layer of protection to your home on wheels.

Eyes everywhere: The benefits of a security camera system

In the digital age, technology offers advanced solutions for RV security. Consider installing a security camera system to keep a watchful eye on your RV. Modern systems provide real-time monitoring accessible from your smartphone giving you peace of mind and the ability to act promptly in case of any suspicious activity.

Conceal and protect: Disguising your RV with camouflage measures

Make your RV less enticing to potential thieves by adopting camouflage measures. This could include discreet branding, covering valuable items, or even using window coverings to conceal the interior. The goal is to avoid drawing unnecessary attention, reducing the risk of burglary when your RV is parked.

Camping at Lady Bird Johnson Park near Fredericksburg, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

GPS tracking for recovery: Protecting your investment with GPS technology

In the unfortunate event that your RV is stolen, having a GPS tracking system can be a game-changer. These devices allow you to track the location of your RV in real-time aiding law enforcement in recovering your property quickly. It’s a worthwhile investment for both security and peace of mind.

Community vigilance: Utilizing the power of RV communities

The RV community is vast and supportive. Leverage this by staying connected with fellow travelers. Join online forums, share your location with trusted friends, and participate in local RV groups. In the world of RVing, a collective eye is often the best security measure with fellow enthusiasts looking out for each other’s well-being.

Camping at Palo Casino RV Resort, Palo, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Emergency preparedness: Security beyond theft

Security extends beyond theft prevention. Equip your RV with emergency preparedness items including a first-aid kit, fire extinguishers, and smoke detectors. Being ready for unexpected situations helps to ensure the safety and well-being of you and your fellow travelers.

Have a way to protect yourself

Whether you’re at an RV park or out in the wilderness, there may come a time when you need to protect yourself. This can mean protection from another person, or from a wild animal like a bear or mountain lion.

There is no shortage of choices when it comes to self-defense from firearms to pepper/bear sprays to blunt objects. Pick the method that you feel most comfortable with. Then, practice using it. Whatever you choose, it’s important that you know how to use it before you ever need to (and hopefully, you won’t).

Camping in Dixie National Forest, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Never post your current location on social media

I totally get that you want to share your cool adventures and amazing places you are at. But, be cautious about giving your exact location and time.

If you want to post a photo of your RV at your campsite or in a certain location, refrain from posting the campground name and town you’re currently located. In other words, keep your social media shares vague. Wait until after you leave the area to share those beautiful views online.

Here are some helpful resources on increasing the security and safety of your RV:

Effective security requires a layered approach. There is no single security measure that is guaranteed to deter and prevent crime. However, by implementing the layered approach outlined above, you can feel confident that you have a good plan in place to deter and prevent crime.

As you embark on your RV journey, remember that security is a crucial aspect of traveling. Implementing these measures can safeguard your home on wheels, allowing you to explore with confidence. By combining technology, community support, and smart practices, you’ll fortify your RV against potential risks ensuring a secure and enjoyable adventure on the open road.

Safe travels!

Worth Pondering…

The art of life lies in a constant readjustment to our surroundings.

—Okakura Kazuko

The Most Dangerous Places for Overnight RV Parking + Safety Tips

After a long day of driving, finding yourself in an unfamiliar area without any RV parks in sight means seeking a safe overnight RV parking spot. Finding overnight RV parking is a challenge most RVers face at one time or another. Many RVers are concerned about this especially regarding safety. But generally speaking, you don’t have to worry too much—if you keep a few key things in mind.

RV travel is great because you always get to sleep in your own bed. But unknowingly choosing dangerous places to sleep in your RV could put your life and property at risk. That’s why even if your interior is comfortable you need to consider your overnight parking surroundings. With that in mind, I’ll discuss the top three risky places for RV travelers to park for a night or longer.

The three most dangerous places to park your RV overnight (or longer)

Before we get started, a reminder that there are exceptions to every rule. Please use your own judgment skills as you choose overnight RV parking.

Generally, staying in a dedicated campground or RV park with amenities is your safest overnight parking choice. Some RV parks and resorts even have gated entries to stop animals or trespassers from getting too close to campsites.

You may be on your way to a national parks adventure and you want to save money with a cheap or free overnight parking. We’ve all been there! Although there are many free RV parking options you’ll have to navigate additional hazards once you arrive. 

Let’s review the top three most dangerous places to sleep in your RV from the streets to the wilderness.

Camping in Lost Dutchman State Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Dangerous RV parking spot #1: On the street

Overnight street parking in your rig can be risky. In many places, it’s illegal to keep your RV on the street for an entire night. You could end up with a hefty fine or even get your RV towed.

Legality aside, it’s just not a great idea to park on the street if you can avoid it.

Potential thieves might see your RV as an easy target especially if they think it’s empty.

You won’t always have the benefit of security cameras from surrounding buildings either.

Instead of parking on the street, you should head for an RV-friendly parking lot. For instance, it’s not uncommon to see travel trailers and motorhomes with tow vehicles parking overnight at Walmart parking lots. Truck stops are usually filled with truckers at night and can be noisy but are usually safer than street parking.

In 2021, Love’s Travel Stops began the process of expanding its offerings by adding dedicated RV hookups at some of its travel stops. For complete details read Love’s RV Hookups: Comfortable RV Stays at Truck Stops?

You can also try overnight parking at other places like casinos. The national restaurant chain Cracker Barrel is also very RV-friendly. And outdoorsy big box stores like Costco, Sam’s Club, Bass Pro Shops, Cabela’s, or Camping World also have large lots that can fit your RV, too! These retail stores usually have well-lit parking lots as well as security cameras. Some even have hookups or dump stations you can use for a small fee (sometimes they’re free, too!).

Dispersed camping at Quartzsite, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Dangerous RV parking spot #2: In the wild

Some campers want to save money by boondocking or dry camping on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land in the backcountry. The U.S. and Canada have large swathes of public land in national forests where you can park for the night, totally free of charge. But even when you find a good spot, dispersed camping comes with its own hazards.

Wild animals are one of the biggest risks of backcountry RV camping. For instance, if you set up a campsite and decide to cook after a long travel day you might attract scavengers like raccoons, possums, and skunks. Even taking the food inside doesn’t always help because they can still smell the lingering aromas.

In the worst-case RV parking scenarios, you might even attract a bear!

Most bears have trouble getting into a locked RV but that doesn’t stop them from trying. You might sustain major bear damage to your RV siding, doors, and windows. Plus, it’s hard to get a good night’s sleep when there’s a huge predator at your campsite.

The wild is also a dangerous place to park your RV because you tend to be isolated from other people. Dispersed wild camping can be nice if you’re looking for peace and quiet but if nobody is around things can quickly go south in the event of an emergency. Boondockers tend to camp far away from other people so you won’t be able to call for help if your RV breaks down, a natural disaster strikes, or animal predators give you problems.

Camping at Frog City RV Park, Duson, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Dangerous RV parking spot #3: Risky campsites

Another dangerous RV parking choice is risky campsites in geologically active terrain.

Just because RVers stay in an established campground or RV park doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re safe. Some campgrounds are poorly maintained or located in geologic hazard zones. 

Be thoughtful as you select a campground and a specific site for the night. Consider these external factors that may lead to trouble.

Dispersed camping near Scenic Highway 24, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Questions to ask before choosing a campsite

Is your site level?

An unstable campsite can lead to disaster if your vehicle starts rolling or if the ground gives way. That’s because landslides are another potential danger if your site is on a slope or located in a hilly area previously burned by wildfire. One bad rain and your RV could get wiped out.

What do your surroundings look like?

Are there many dead trees in the area? Is the foliage particularly dry or overgrown? These can be fire hazards so you should stay away from potential kindling material. In a wind storm, dead trees can drop branches on top of your RV.

Is there water nearby?

We all love a scenic lake view or the comforting white noise of a nearby river. But bodies of water can flood in heavy rainfall. If your site is too close to the water line you might get trapped in mud or several inches of water. Proper drainage is crucial. Always put some distance between yourself and nearby water sources.

Three tips for keeping your RV (and you) safe

Between the streets, wilderness animals, and geographically risky campsites there are plenty of places that could qualify as the most dangerous places to park your RV for the night.

But in this RV life, sometimes you won’t have much of a choice. For example, your itinerary plans might fall through. Or you may desperately need to save money. In these cases, you might have to spend a few nights in these dangerous locations.

In this case, it’s important for you to protect yourself and your RV from potential harm. Nobody can prepare for every eventuality but there are some things you can do to stay safer.

Camping at Sand Hollow State Park, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RV parking safety tip #1: Buy an RV security system

For starters, invest in a top rated RV security system. This is especially helpful if you spend a lot of time camping on the streets, in rest areas, or in parking lots. Urban areas tend to have higher crime rates so you need to protect your home on wheels.

Most security systems have cameras, alarms, and ways to contact the authorities if there’s a break-in. It’s also a good idea to upgrade the locking mechanisms on your windows. Switch to a keyless RV door lock too.

RV parking safety tip #2: Take precautions against wild animals

Curious animals may visit your campsite if they smell food or other strong scents. It’s hard to deter them completely but you can prevent damage and force them to keep their distance if you take a few precautions such as:

Consider storing your food away from your RV. Bear-proof containers could be a good investment if you frequently go boondocking. You could also place your food in hard-to-reach areas.

Place animal deterrents around your campsite. Most creatures will be too scared to approach you if you have motion-activated lights or foul-smelling deterrents.

Camping in Sequoia National Park, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RV parking safety tip #3: Have backup communication devices

Nowadays most of us rely on our smartphones for everything. And for good reason! Our phones are more powerful than ever and are getting better all the time. But if you want to camp in remote areas, you might not always have a strong cell phone signal.

If something happens while you’re camping in a dangerous place, you’ll need a reliable way to call for help. In this case, you have a few options:

A satellite phone is a good investment. This device communicates via satellites not cell towers. It can connect you to help when no cellular connectivity is present. They’re also quite sturdy so you don’t have to worry about breaking them.

Buy a GPS tracker, satellite messenger device, and subscription. A GPS tracking device and a host of satellite messenger devices and associated subscriptions can let you send status updates with location information and an SOS/distress option that will immediately dispatch emergency crews in the event of a life-threatening emergency. 

Flares, smoke signals, and other non-electronic communication methods can also come in handy. Consider taking a wilderness survival course to learn how to use these methods.

Camping at Smokian RV Park, Soap Lake, Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Final thoughts about safer RV parking

Camping in an RV is so much fun because you have endless options for overnight RV parking. But there are certain places like rest stops on highways that you may want to avoid. But if you can’t get to a campground, you always have options. Just keep an eye out for these dangerous places to sleep in your RV, so you can make smarter decisions when you choose a place to park.

For more on safety, check out:

Worth Pondering…

As Yogi Berra said, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”

The Real Dangers of Camping in an RV Park or Campground

Sure, you’ve thought about theft and petty crimes but there are other dangers of camping in an RV park or campground you probably haven’t considered. Here’s what you need to know to stay safe.

We know that it’s important to be on the alert for petty crimes and should lock our doors and windows. But have you considered the more subtle but real dangers of camping in an RV park or campground?

I’m talking about fire-starting, stomach-upsetting, water-logged dangers that too many campers often overlook.

In this post I’ll discuss five real dangers to be aware of. Then, you’ll know what to look for and what questions to ask when booking your next camping site.

PLUS, at the end, I’ll link to other articles on staying safe while enjoying the RV lifestyle.

CreekFire RV Resort, Savannah, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Of course, some of these dangers are more prevalent in different parts of the country. You’re not likely to encounter tropical storms or hurricanes in South Dakota, for instance. However, I’m sure you can apply the wisdom of each danger to whatever location you’re traveling to.

The point of this article is not to scare you but to PREPARE you for less-obvious dangers you may not have considered. I LOVE camping and think everyone can and should enjoy it too.

So, whether you’re a solo traveler, a senior, a young newbie, or a family with a gaggle of kids, don’t let these dangers deter you from camping. Just consider them and how best to prepare for them as necessary.

Hacienda RV Resort, Las Cruces, New Mexico © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

1. Bad electrical

Unfortunately, it’s far too common for electrical hookups not to be properly maintained. RV parks that are under poor management or laissez-fair attitude often delay electrical maintenance and repair.

That leaves RVers at risk of using a faulty outlet and two big dangers. The first big (and costly) danger is a power surge that fries your electrical system. 

The second big danger of bad electrical is FIRE! It’s no surprise that sparks or surges of electricity can catch your RV on fire. It’s important to know your RV fire safety.

That’s why I recommend you always inspect your electrical connection before you plug in. Does it look badly unmaintained? Do you see any exposed wires? If it’s scary-looking, you probably should be concerned.

I also recommend you always use an Electric Management System like the units available from Progressive Electric Management Systems or Surge Guard.

Dakota Campground, Mitchell, South Dakota © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

2. Unclean water

Living in the U. S. and Canada, we often take safe drinking water for granted. In many of our homes, we can drink straight from the tap. But that doesn’t mean we can do the same while camping.

Flint, Michigan has certainly served as a warning to all Americans that we should think twice before blindly trusting any water spout.

Unclean water is one of the top unseen dangers of camping and should be taken seriously. Do you really want to chance ruining your trip with a sick stomach at the very least (or possibly far worse)? 

I suggest always using a water filter for your RV.

Whispering Oaks RV Park, Weimar, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3. Bad site location for flooding

This camping danger applies to campground locations as well as individual campsites. You can unwittingly park in a flood zone and not be properly prepared if a storm hits. 

Granted, this isn’t usually a year-round risk. However, at the very least, you want to be aware of the possible necessity to pack up and move if a big storm is headed your way.

It’s important to learn flood basics and note where your campsite is in relation to:

  • Rivers and streams
  • Mountains and steep hills
  • Rocky and shallow clay soils

Note that notably dry locations like Arizona are not immune to flooding! In fact, they can be more at risk of flash floods. So, take heavy rains seriously wherever you’re camping. 

Be sure to check that out Flash Floods: Safety Tips for RVers.

Leaf Verde RV Park, Buckeye, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

4. Unsafe neighborhoods

RV park websites can paint a picturesque setting that may be located in an unsafe neighborhood. Theft and violent crimes may prevail in the area and you’d have no idea until you drive through and get that queasy feeling in the pit of your stomach.

While RV parks and campgrounds are generally very safe, you should always be aware of your surroundings. And you do need to take extra precautions whenever parking overnight at truck stops, Walmarts, or other lot-docking locations.

You can easily research local crime in the area online. SpotCrime.com is one such helpful resource you can use to search by address or state. For more peace of mind wherever you travel, you can install an RV security system.

But please be assured that theft isn’t as common at RV parks as one might think and violent crimes are even rarer. So, be aware, but don’t be scared!

RV Park at Rolling Hills Casino, Corning, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

5. Unstaffed RV park office

You might think of an unstaffed RV park office as an inconvenience but it also poses a safety risk. An unstaffed RV park or campground is also more at risk of crime since it’s not being monitored 24/7.

Having someone familiar with the campground and nearby area can be vitally helpful in an emergency. This is especially true if you’re a solo RVer. 

Regardless of whether RV park or campground staff is available at all times, I do have a life-saving recommendation for you! 

Always keep the campground address and your campsite number within reach, like on a post-it on your fridge. Plus, the name and address of the nearest hospital! Having this info at your fingertips can save precious time when trying to get emergency services to your location.

Grandma’s RV Camping, Elizabethtown, Kentucky © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Additional safety concerns while RVing

The above are common dangers of camping wherever you travel but there is one more safety issue I want to leave you with.

Fire safety

Fire represents a risk that RVers need to keep top of mind. An RV fire can spread in a fast and furious manner leading to devastating damage, injury, and even loss of life.

RVs have numerous potential sources of fires—RV refrigerators, propane appliances, space heaters, washers and driers, gasoline or diesel engines, and electrical wiring that take a beating when traveling on less-than-ideal highways. So, every RV owner needs to develop a safety plan that covers how to deal with a fire.

I have a few helpful articles on developing a plan to deal with RV fires:

And finally the Safety List For when your RV is Parked.

Worth Pondering…

Take care of yourself. You’ll find it hard to get a replacement.

Are RV Parks and Campgrounds Safe?

Staying in a campground or RV park is a fun and convenient way to travel. Is staying at these facilities a safe option?

For people that are new to RV camping and even seasoned RVers, safety is an issue of concern that crops up time and time again. This is very understandable as daily news reports are littered with stories of various crimes.

In this post, I’ll offer some safety tips, talk about the different crimes that are likely to occur in RV parks and campgrounds, and allay any fears you may have about the RV lifestyle.

Ambassador RV Resort, Caldwell, Idaho © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

There are significant safety advantages to staying in RV parks and campgrounds while on a road trip. Some offer gated areas and security check-ins meaning con artists and others up to no good won’t be able to easily wander around your campsite. And many feature surveillance cameras to catch would-be criminals in the act. According to KOA, RVing is relatively safe since most campgrounds don’t typically attract the criminal element. 

Even the busiest RV parks see much lower crime rates than other areas. According to VEHQ.com, the odds of being a victim or a major crime in an RV park are 1 in 25,000. That’s much lower than in many residential areas in the U.S.

Of course, some are safer than others depending on location, the number of people in the general area, and security efforts and surveillance systems. Despite the secure nature of the managed campground environment, it’s always best to prioritize your safety and take the necessary precautions to protect yourself when you’re RVing.

Las Vegas RV Resort, Las Vegas, Nevada © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Crime in RV parks and campgrounds

RV parks and campgrounds are considered by many to be safe havens where one can relax and connect with Mother Nature. And that’s true, for the most part.

We know that crimes occur everywhere. Your preferred RV campgrounds are no different. The good news is that most of these crimes prove to be petty and inconsequential to personal safety. After reviewing several camping blogs and forums, I can break RV park crimes into two broad groups:

  • Petty crimes
  • Major crimes
Buckhorn Lake RV Resort, Kerrville, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Petty crimes in RV parks and campgrounds

When discussing RV parks and campground safety, petty crimes are the main concern as they are far more common. The incidence of these crimes is still low but sometimes they do happen.

Many avid campers report that they have never witnessed a petty crime take place. Others have tales of criminals stealing bicycles, BBQs, and propane tanks, and trying to break into parked RVs. The best thing about petty crimes is that you can usually stop them by being security-conscious. Locking your RV with a deadbolt, keeping windows locked, padlocking your Electric Management System (or surge protector), and keeping all valuables hidden and out of sight can deter the odd petty criminal.

Two Rivers Landing RV Resorts, Sevierville, Tennessee © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Major crimes in RV parks and campgrounds

As mentioned earlier, the odds of you being a victim of a major crime in an RV park or campground are extremely low. Most campgrounds have security systems put in place to stop them from happening.

On any given day, a lot of people move in and out of RV parks and campgrounds. The large number of people and unpredictable factors present seem to deter perpetrators of major crimes. Apart from the odd bomb scare which usually proves to be a prank call, significant crimes in RV campgrounds are few and far between.

The Barnyard RV Park, Lexington, South Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RV park security systems

With the availability of high-tech equipment many RV parks are using technology to secure their facilities. Total security can only be achieved with the assistance of every member of the camping community. However, it all starts with RV park management.

The following are a few security measures adopted at many camping facilities:

Surveillance cameras: In many RV parks there is an eye in the sky watching the comings and goings. Of course, these cameras are not situated in your private spaces. However, as long as an area is public, it is likely covered by surveillance cameras. Since nobody wants to be caught on camera carrying out criminal activities, surveillance cameras do a pretty good job of stopping crime at campgrounds.

Entrance security: Many RV parks have gates, security checkpoints, and speed bumps at all access points. It may seem inconsequential but it contributes to the air of security around a campground. These checkpoints are there to prevent non-campers from gaining access to the RV park and by extension, you and your RV.

Hacienda RV Resort, Las Cruces, New Mexico © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

How to pick a safe RV park

Staying safe starts with you! Before committing to days or possibly weeks camping in a particular RV park, do your due diligence. You may not be wise to stay in the first campground you come across.

Do your research and plan ahead

Your first line of defense for staying safe in an RV park or campground is to do your research and plan ahead before you ever show up to the campground. This will help you to avoid most of the poorly-rated and unsafe campgrounds altogether while RVing. 

There are numerous ways to research RV park safety but the best ways are to check independent user reviews of the campground as well as check out Google street view to get a better feel for the area the campground is located.

Jackson Ranchero Casino RV Park, Jackson, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Three favorite websites for independent RV campground reviews are:  

  • campendium.com
  • allstays.com
  • campgroundreviews.com

In addition to independent campground reviews check out the RV park website and Facebook page. 

Also, goodsam.com rates its RV parks and campgrounds using a three-number rating of a campground’s amenities, cleanliness, and environment/visual appearance. Each category is rated on a scale of one to 10 and a star is added for exceptionally clean restrooms. If you’re looking for the best of the best, Good Sam annually releases a list of top-rated RV parks and resorts. For 2023, a total of 156 Good Sam Parks scored flawless 10/10★/10 rating.

Before committing to an RV park I recommend checking out available photos of the campground on their website, Facebook, and Good Sam to get a better feel for the facility. In addition to any security concerns, I’m interested in the general layout of the park and invidual camping sites.

While it’s true the photos displayed on the RV park’s website will usually put the campground in the most favorable light, you can still get a pretty good idea of what the campground is like from the photos. 

Pro tip: If the RV park or campground doesn’t have a website or a Facebook page this is usually a big red flag and warning sign. And if they don’t this usually indicates it’s a good place to skip especially if you’re concerned about safety.  

Coastal Georgia RV Resort, Brunswick, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Personal safety tips

Always lock up your RV whenever you want to leave your site. Even if it is only for a short period, lock up to avoid problems. All outside storage spaces should also be afforded the same level of security.

Keep your shades and window blinds down. This is the best way to eliminate temptations.

Park near other RVers. The expression safety in numbers also applies in RV campgrounds. If you are near other campers, they can watch out for you and vice versa.

Staying at an RV park or campground should be an enjoyable experience. Don’t forget to have fun!

Worth Pondering…

Take care of yourself. You’ll find it hard to get a replacement.

The Safety Checklist for When Your RV is Parked

All the basics you need to know

Parking an RV can be daunting. Oftentimes, drivers may be so focused on perfect parking placement that they aren’t sure what to do next. There are a few simple steps to follow once you’re in a place to ensure your rig and its contents are safe and secure. Here are some tips to help you get started.

Motorhomes on level concrete sites © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Leveling and Stabilizing

RV leveling is critical for more than comfort. It ensures appliances like the fridge work and slide-out sections can move freely.

Self-leveling Systems

Like many newer models, your rig may have a self-leveling system, requiring the push of a button to make sure everything is even. Some have manual leveling options. You can change the levels for up to two tires at once to get the evenest setup.

You may need to relevel your RV if the ground shifts under the weight of the rig. 

RVs on level gravel sites © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Manual Stabilizing

RVs without this auto-level feature including many travel and fifth-wheel trailers and older motorhomes will require more work. You can purchase heavy-duty plastic leveling blocks that interlock to help raise or lower your RV. These options increase RV safety by preventing the blocks from separating when you need more than one.

Related: On the Road Again: Summer Road Trip Safety Tips

First, place a bubble level in the center of the floor in the RV interior parallel with the front bumper. Your rig may have a center level and levels that align with the axles to make this process easy. The center reading will help you tell whether to add blocks to the left or right tires. Drive the rig onto the blocks after placing them in front of or behind the wheels on the RV’s lower side. Repeatedly check your level until it is even. 

Motorhome on mostly level site © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If the ground is very uneven, create a ramp with blocks by placing one in the direction you’ll drive. Then, add two stacked blocks butting up to the first. Add a three-stack in front of that if needed. Check your level between each block addition.

Safety tip: The wheels must be perfectly centered on the blocks to prevent the motorhome from rolling and ensure it is level.

Once the RV is even, get out the chocks. These safety accessories are often made of plastic or rubber and prevent the RV from moving forward or backward. Place chocks in front of and behind the tires that did not require blocks. 

Trailer set up on-site © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Slides

RV slides conveniently add square footage to your living space. Some RVs have electric slide outs that extend in minutes. If your rig has this feature, make sure it’s level and push the button or flip the switch to extend the slide out.

Related: 30 RV Hacks and Tips for a Successful Road Trip

Parking Brakes

Pull out the parking brake knob in the cab. It should be yellow. Always engage the parking brakes once the rig is parked, level, and chocked. 

These RVs required leveling blocks at the rear © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Awnings

RV awnings offer sun and rain protection. They can also make your RV more energy efficient by limiting how much sun enters through the window. If your awning opens automatically, make sure you are connected to shore power or a generator. If using an inverter, your batteries must be charged to power the awning motor.

Open your motorized awning by flipping the switch inside the cab or on the remote. If the awning doesn’t open, you may need a new remote battery. Ensure you are plugged into a power source and the parking brake is set. If the brake is not engaged, the awnings may not open.

For manual awnings, undo travel locks on the arms. These safety devices may be part of the RV or as simple as velcro or string. Loosen the rafter knobs on the back of the arms to allow the awning to open. Use an awning rod to reverse the locking level into the “roll down” setting.

Electric power, city water, and sewer connections © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Reach for the awning loop and slowly pull the awning backward away from the RV. Avoid adjusting the awning on windy days as you could damage your rig or harm yourself. Once extended, lock the rafter arms by sliding them into place on the RV exterior. Tighten the bolts on the rafter arms to spread out the awning material and make it taught, avoiding flapping in the wind.

Extend the awning arms to allow for a slope with the part of the awning furthest from the RV a little lower than the part that connects to the rig. This slight decline will encourage rain to flow away from the RV and prevent it from collecting and collapsing.

Electric management system © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RV Electrical Hookup

When you pull into your campground site, it’s tempting to plug right in and turn everything on. However, you want to keep safety in mind, especially when dealing with electricity. First, it’s a good idea to test the hook up with a polarity tester to make sure the campground’s wiring is in good shape. If it’s not, your polarity tester will tell you before you fry any or all of the components of your RV electrical system.

Related: 10 RV Driving Tips

Electric management system © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Or better yet invest in an electric management system. This electric detection device will protect you from four electrical issues an RVer can encounter while traveling: power surges, miswired pedestals, high/low voltage, and wiring issues inside the RV.

City water connection © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Water Connection

Find your RV fresh water drinking hose in your RV storage. Add a water pressure regulator before attaching the loose end of the hose to the potable campground water spigot. Make sure you are using the potable water spigot as it is safe to drink. 

Do not turn on the water pump if you are connecting to a city water connection as it is already pressurized. Only use the pump if you are pulling water from tanks inside the RV when you cannot hook up to an outside water source. Once attached to the spigot, slowly turn it and have someone in the RV turn on a sink. Once the water runs into the RV, you know the connection is correct.

Sewer connection © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Emptying Grey and Black Water Tanks

First, a quick clarification for anyone new to RVing. When you run an RV faucet, the water goes into built-in grey water holding tank. Anything flushed down the toilet flows into a black water tank. 

Related: Five RV Tips BEFORE Your First Road Trip

Dump station for when you don’t have a sewer connection © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Most large rigs will come with 60-80 gallons of grey water capacity and 40-60 gallons of black water capacity. That means these tanks can go a few days to a couple of weeks before needing to be emptied depending on the usage.

Sewer connection © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Many resorts offer full hookups which include a sewer connection on the RV lot which allows the tanks to be dumped as needed without needing to leave the camping site. The alternative is driving the RV to a dump station in the campground. Full hookup sites come with the obvious benefit of avoiding the need to move the RV and relevel and stabilize after each dump. 

Wear disposable plastic gloves when dealing with sewage to prevent stomach bugs or other sewage-related illnesses. Make sure the RV gray and black water sewer valves are securely closed before opening the cap.

Connect one end of the sewer hose to the RV sewer valve and the other end to the park sewer dumping station inlet. Slowly open the black water discharge valves to drain the system. When empty, close the valve.

Motorhome set up on-site © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Next, follow this process with the grey water. This order of operations will wash the sewage out of the hose, preventing an unsanitary mess. Once done, close the grey water valve. Disconnect the hoses and attach the caps to the RV valves. 

Related: 12 Simple RV Maintenance Tips

If you are staying long-term at an RV park you will leave the sewer hose attached.

Throw away your disposable gloves before thoroughly washing your hands. 

Worth Pondering…

Remember, Safety First, and Happy RVing!

Camping Awareness: Wildfire Safety Tips That Could Save Your Life

If you’re wondering what causes wildfires, read on. Here is your complete guide to understanding the most common causes and how campers can practice fire safety.

“You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.”

—Bob Dylan

Yet, knowing which way the wind will be blowing will give you a massive advantage in understanding the behavior of wildfires.

It took only a handful of days between the disappearance of snow in the Santa Fe National Forest and the start of the Cerro Pelado fire, a growing blaze that has threatened two units of the National Park Service (NPS) in New Mexico in an early season signal that the coming summer months will be smoky in many parts west of the Rockies. 

Salt River Canyon Wilderness, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Fire restrictions, imposed county by county, appear to arise more often during the wildfire season. The days of explorers ambling into Colorado’s backcountry, gathering kindling, and sparking a fire for some supper and perhaps a s’more or two are gone. Long gone, the Denver Post recently (May 5, 2022) reported.

“The state’s too dry. Too warm. Wildfire risk is too high and the season lasts all year now. The danger of a camper accidentally sparking a devastating wildfire is too serious.”

Lassen Volcanic National Park, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Yes, the 2022 wildfire season is underway and it’s striking with a vengeance. The Calf Canyon/Hermits Fire near Santa Fe, New Mexico had burned more than 168,000 acres as of last Friday (May 7, 2022) and was only 20 percent contained. It had already destroyed at least 277 structures including 166 residential buildings and was threatening thousands more. So far, more than 300,000 acres had burned in the state more than all of last year.

Lynx Lake, Prescott National Forest, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Meanwhile, in Florida, more than 22,000 acres have burned in recent days. Both fires serve to remind us to check ahead where we’re headed with our RVs and to be extra careful with fire.

With the devastating destruction caused by wildfires, it’s hard to imagine that a single ember is all it can take to start an inferno. Yet, this is often the case—and in most cases humans are to blame. Wildfires are classified as either naturally occurring or human-caused. According to NPS, human-caused wildfires are significantly more common with human involvement triggering 85 percent to 90 percent of all wildfires.

The NPS also estimates that only about 10 percent of wildfires are started by natural causes such as lightning.

Saguaro Lake, Arizona

For any fire to occur, there are three elements needed—heat, fuel, and oxygen:

  • Heat: Many potential heat sources can create embers and ignite wildfires. Many of these are human-caused which I will cover in more detail below.
  • Fuel: An arid climate and abundant, bone dry vegetation provides copious amounts of fuel for wildfires.
  • Oxygen: California’s infamous Santa Ana winds produce gusts averaging 45-50 mph with record gusts clocked at over 160 mph. These winds fan the flames and spread embers, leading to truly devastating wildfires.
Sequoia National Park, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Wildfires can start in a variety of ways. A dry climate, abundant winds, and dried vegetation provide prime conditions for a wildfire—and it only takes a single ember to ignite and destroy hundreds of thousands of acres and place humans and personal belongs at risk.

Here’s a close look at the top four heat sources that are the most common cause of wildfires:

  • Burning debris: Embers from burning debris are one of the most common causes of wildfires. In windy weather, escaped embers can carry for miles without extinguishing.
  • Unattended campfires: We typically associate campfires with beautiful memories, like s’mores and stories with loved ones. However, despite a campfire’s summertime appeal, they are one of the leading causes of wildfires.  California’s Ham Lake Fire (2007) which destroyed 75,000 acres and hundreds of properties is just one example of the devastation that a single campfire can cause.
  • Power lines/electrical equipment: Electrical lines and related equipment can break in high winds and spark, igniting flames in tinder-dry vegetation that can spread quickly in high winds. Fallen power lines are the third most common cause of wildfires in California. In some cases, it only takes a branch falling from a tree and striking a power line to create sparks. Over the past six years, more than 1,500 Californian wildfires were caused by fallen power lines including the deadliest fire in history—the Camp Fire (2018) which razed 90 percent of the town of Paradise killing 86 people and destroying more than 13,900 homes. The lines malfunctioned on a dry hillside near a windy canyon.
  • Discarded cigarettes: One of the biggest causes of fires is discarded cigarette butts. In 1997, there were 130,000 cigarette related fires. In 2017 this problem resulted in over $2 billion in costs associated with putting these fires out and $6 billion in loss of property. In addition to causing fires, cigarette butts pose another risk: they are hazardous to the environment. Cigarette butts leach toxins into the water and kill or injure various forms of wildlife. The plastic parts of cigarette butts can be ingested by fish, birds, whales, and other marine animals and the toxicity can accumulate up the food chain.
Brasstown Bald, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The list above is by no means exhaustive. Other common causes of wildfires include:

  • Equipment use and malfunctions: The fifth-largest fire in California history, the Zaca Fire (2007) was caused by sparks from a metal grinder.
  • Vehicle crashes and engine sparks: The Carr Fire (2018) was caused by sparks from a trailer’s faulty wheel rim creating sparks on the road.
  • Arson: Two Colorado residents face charges of felony arson for their roles in starting the Lake Christine Fire in 2018.
  • Lightning: Lightning caused the 2012 Rush Fire in Lassen County, California.
Oak Creek Canyon, Arizona

Regardless of how wildfires are started, they are highly unpredictable and can be deadly. With the severe heat, drought conditions, and wildfires burning across much of the western US states and Canada, those who are out adventuring need to be aware of wildfire conditions and what can be done to keep you and your family safe in the backcountry.

Know the current wildfire conditions and fire restrictions for the area you are traveling.

Lackawanna State Park, Pennsylvania © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Check with the national forest, state, and county as individual governing entities may have different restrictions.  Driving routes may be impacted, so check your route for road closures and cautions. Also, keep in mind that fire conditions and restrictions can change often, so check frequently so that you know what is permitted or restricted. Closures and restrictions aren’t put in place to ruin your camping trip; they are put in place for safety reasons. Take them seriously.

Frances Beider Forest, South Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Choose a campsite that has more than one escape route. 

Have more than one way that you can leave the area. You might be tempted to camp way up in that canyon near the end of the road but if your access is cut off from a fire, you will have no way to leave.

Park for a quick departure.

Back into the spot if you need to so that should you need to leave quickly, you don’t have to worry about jockeying around in the smoke to get out.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Do not start a wildfire. This involves knowing what is not allowed and being responsible for your actions. Make sure you don’t spill flammable liquids and ensure cook stoves, barbecues, and lanterns are cold to the touch before storing them. Seemingly innocuous things like smoking outside or mosquito candles may lead to fire danger under the right (or wrong) conditions. If you are permitted to have a campfire, be sure it is completely extinguished before you leave.

Wildfire smoke from across state lines obscured the skies over Gatlinburg, Tennessee © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If you do see an unattended fire or out of control fire, contact the authorities by calling 911 or the forest service immediately.

The sooner a problem is reported, the faster people can start taking action to get it under control or extinguished.

Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Don’t discard cigarettes, matches, or smoking materials on the ground. Drown them in a glass of water then put them in the trash. No one wants to see that litter anyhow.

If you are asked to evacuate, do so immediately.

Stowe, Vermont © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If you are camping in the backcountry, there is likely not going to be anyone to tell you that a fire is in the area, so be aware of conditions and get yourself out if you see or smell smoke. Do not be tempted to linger for photos. Don’t drive slowly looking at flames.

Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If everything has gone wrong, you are in trouble. Don’t try to outrun the fire. If possible, get yourself submerged in a body of water (pond, river) as fast as you can. If there is no water, find a depression (low area) with as little vegetation as possible. Lie low to the ground and cover yourself with wet clothing. Protect your lungs as best as you can and stay down until the fire passes.  

Remember: you are responsible for your safety and for the safety of those around you.

See also:

Worth Pondering…

Don’t forget what Smokey Bear says: Only YOU can prevent wildfires!

The Safe Use of Electric Space Heaters in your RV

Use electric space heaters with care

Electric space heaters can be dangerous if they are not used correctly.

In 2020, two snowbirds died after a fire broke out in the early morning in their RV at the Highbanks Marina Camp and Resort in DeBary, Florida. Investigators said multiple space heaters, extension cords, and power strips were in use and that a space heater ignited the fire near the only exit. Firefighters were called to the home around 4:15 a.m. Officials said the blaze broke out near the single entrance to the RV and said that although the couple had been alerted by a working smoke detector, they were not able to get out.

Stay safe © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

And, in 2021, in Tucson, Arizona there was an RV fire around midnight which resulted in the death of a small dog. According to Tucson Fire Department (TFD), it took 14 firefighters 30 minutes to put out the fire limiting damage to the nearby RV to a burnt awning and melted plastic around the door. TFD officials believe the fire started from an unattended space heater.

TFD reminded the public that space heaters should never be left unattended and offered the following reminders:

  • Always place space heaters on a level, flat surface
  • Never place heaters on cabinets, tables, furniture, or carpet
  • Never leave a space heater running overnight or when you are asleep
Stay safe © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If you’re camped in an RV park with full hookups and not paying extra for electric usage it makes sense to take advantage of the power to heat your RV rather than using the propane you have to pay for separately. There’s also the fact that heat pumps and furnaces are, in most cases, very noisy. And there’s a third good reason. Unless the campground has a power outage, you don’t have to worry about running out of electricity.

Related Article: How to Avoid Carbon Monoxide Poisoning in your RV?

Stay safe © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Use space heaters with care

So why wouldn’t this be a great way to heat your rig? What could be the downside of it? 

Are electric space heaters really dangerous?

Stay safe © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Well, don’t just take my word for it. Perhaps some advice from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) might help. According to the NFPA space heaters were the single most likely cause of a home fire over any other source of heat. In fact, 53 percent of home fires related to heating were caused by space heaters according to their 2018 report, the last year the information was reported. 

Related Article: Maintain Your RV: What You Absolutely Need To Know To Avoid Disasters on the Road

Space heaters all essentially max out at 1500 watts which means you can draw about 12.5 amps from the wall outlet. If your space heater does not have a thermostat, this continuous draw can heat up the wiring in the RV which could result in a fire, particularly if it’s compromised in any way. 

Stay safe © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Electric space heaters can help warm a room quickly. However, they can be as dangerous as convenient if not used properly. Everyone needs to understand the importance of using space heaters safely. Here’s what safeelectricity.org says about the safe use of space heaters:

  • Purchase only space heaters that have been safety tested and UL approved
  • Make sure the unit has an emergency tip-over/shut-off feature and heating element guards
  • Read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for operation and care
  • Before using a space heater, make sure your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are in good working condition
  • Make sure the heater is clean and in good condition
  • Place the heater out of high-traffic areas and on a level, hard, non-flammable floor surface—NOT on carpets, furniture, or countertops
  • NEVER use space heaters to thaw pipes or dry clothing or towels
  • Keep space heaters at least three feet from combustible liquids such as fuel, spray cans, and paint and flammable items such as draperies, blankets, towels, and sofas
  • NEVER allow pets or children near an electric heater; accidental contact can cause serious shock or burns
  • DO NOT overload circuits
  • NEVER use extension cords or multiple plugs with a space heater and make sure not to plug the unit into the same circuit as other electric appliances
  • Never leave space heaters unattended—turn off and unplug before leaving the room or going to bed
  • Replace older space heaters with newer, safer models
Stay safe © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

But electrical fires aren’t the only reason using a space heater can be a concern. Most RVs have heated and enclosed underbellies that use the heat from the central furnace to warm the area so the water lines and holding tanks don’t freeze. 

Related Article: The 10 Essentials Every RV Owner Should Buy Before Their First Road Trip

If you’re using a space heater to warm the RV, this may not provide sufficient warmth to keep the pipes and tanks from freezing and that could be a major problem. If the temperature is below freezing set your RV thermostat on a low setting so that the underbelly and interior of the coach stay above freezing. 

Stay safe © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Final thoughts

Many space heater fires are caused by plugging them into an outlet strip or skinny extension cord. Always plug a portable space heater directly into a wall outlet, never a power strip. Outlet strips were never designed for the types of continuous high-amperage loads created by any electrical heating appliance. 

Locate a space heater at least three feet away from anything flammable. And make sure your dog can’t knock a blanket down on top of one.

Stay safe © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Modern electric space heaters have tip-over and overheating protection. But that hasn’t always been the case with old heaters. Make sure your heater has all the safety controls.

Watch out for pet hair and fuzzies. Yes, pet hair will be sucked right into the fan on many of these heaters. That can cause an internal fire to start. Inspect your space heater for signs of dirt and hair. Use a can of compressed air to clean this kind of gunk out if it’s not too bad. But if it’s really caked on it’s time to buy a new space heater. Don’t take any chances with accumulated dirt and hair in a heating appliance.

Stay safe © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Use low power settings and inspect outlets and plugs for signs of overheating. Always run your heater on the low-power setting or 600 to 750 watts. The continuous draw of the high-wattage settings can cause RV outlets and heater plugs to overheat and possibly catch on fire. If you see any signs of discoloring or touching the plug with your hand feels warm, then the damage is beginning. And be aware that a GFCI outlet will do nothing to prevent overheating. That’s not what they were designed to do. And while you’re at it, take a look at the power plug for any signs of overheating.

Stay safe © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

There’s no good way to repair an electrical outlet once it begins to overheat since the spring contacts have probably been damaged and it will keep getting hotter and hotter until it melts. Once a wall outlet has been overheated, then it’s time for a replacement.

Some of the newer RVs are manufactured with space heaters in the form of an electric fireplace. They are simply a fancy space heater with a beautiful display but one that does incorporate a thermostat. 

Remember that electricity is a useful and powerful force, so we all need to pay attention to safety precautions while using it.

Read Next: Is Your RV Protected from Electrical Issues?

Stay safe © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

As always, a lot of common sense will help you to stay in the safe zone. Let’s play safe out there….

Worth Pondering…

When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive—to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.

—Marcus Aurelius

How Well Do You Know Your RV Park Neighbors?

When you stay in a RV park for more than a few days, you get to know your neighbors. Or do you?

The local police arrived at Zuni Village RV Park in central Kingman (Arizona) to tell stunned residents that they needed to get out—fast. Experts arrived with a robot to search Glenn Jones’ motorhome after connecting Jones to two bomb blasts that occurred 24-hours earlier in the small rural town of Panaca (Nevada), leaving one dead.

Canyon Gateway RV Park, Williams, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Once inside the RV, the bomb squad found and detonated numerous improvised explosive devices. They also removed 40 pounds of bomb-making materials kept inside the RV. Jones’ nearby storage unit may have also contained bomb-building ingredients.

Far Horizon 49er Village, Plymouth, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

During the scene processing, 10 of the IEDs were rendered safe in a vacant field just west of the RV park. The remaining five, larger, IEDs were removed to be detonated at another location.

Related: 12 Unspoken Etiquette Rules of RV Camping

Poche’s RV Park, Breaux Bridge, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Later that day, Jones’ motorhome was towed away from Zuni Village RV Park; the park’s 100 residents were allowed back the next day.

According to the Associated Press, the 59-year-old man targeted the house because it belonged to two former co-workers. He drove a rented car to Panaca and detonated two bombs and fatally shot himself in the head before the blasts erupted.

Western Way RV Resort, Tucson, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Lincoln County Sheriff Kerry Lee said residents Tiffany Cluff and two daughters fled barefoot from the house before the blast. Husband Joshua Cluff and another daughter weren’t home at the time.

Lakeside RV Park, Livingston, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Back at Zuni Village, Jones was known as a quiet man who even cared for the elderly mother of another park resident. Although he had only been a resident of the RV park for six months, he apparently gave subtle clues to neighbors that something was amiss. In the months leading up to the bomb explosions, he told neighbors he was angry with his former employer, admitted to being severely depressed, and suddenly gave away hundreds of dollars to a neighbor.

Flag City RV Resort, Lodi, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

According to park neighbors, Jones:

“…had a fascination with shells and all things military”

“quiet and courteous but tormented”

Related: Consider Your Needs When Choosing RV Parks and Campgrounds

Las Quintas Oasis RV Park, Yuma, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Nobody could have predicted that he was making bombs inside his RV and putting his neighbors at risk. According to the American Psychiatric Association, Jones’ behaviors that neighbors described were classic signs of mental illness.

Golden Village RV Park, Hemet, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Incidents such as the Kingman bomb scare can happen anywhere. Dangerous people in RV parks are no different than those living in traditional neighborhoods.

The best way to avoid any hazard is to be alert to your surroundings, stay out of areas that seem like trouble spots, watch for odd behaviors, and if something doesn’t feel right, turn the key and leave.

New Green Acres RV Park, Waterboro, South Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Be cautious of rest areas and choose your campgrounds and RV parks carefully.

Related: Finding the Right RV Site

Keep your eyes open, follow your instincts, and don’t overnight in rest areas or other questionable locations.

Okefenokee RV Park, Folkston, Georgia

In general terms, RVing is a safe way to travel. Most campgrounds don’t attract a notorious criminal element.

However, the fastest way to become a statistic of a criminal act is to think it can’t happen to you. The first rule in avoiding crime is to accept that crime does indeed exist and that you are not immune.

Oh! Kentucky Campground and RV Park, Berea, Kentucky © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Get in the habit of locking your rig every time you leave. This RV lockdown should include securing exterior storage compartments and windows as well.

Related: 5 Tips for Safe RV Travel

Close blinds and shades to make “casing the joint” a tougher task. Another perk? Shades keep the sun off the fabrics which reduces fading.

Gulf Coast RV Park, Beaumont, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The choice of the RV park itself is also important. Question management about security. Do they have nightly patrols? Is the park well lit? How hard is it for non-guests to come and go?

Whispering Hills RV Park, Georgetown, Kentucky © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Every city has its bad parts of town. Avoid these. Lose that wide-eyed touristy look and stay alert to your surroundings. 

Worth Pondering…

Stay safe wherever you are and find time to enjoy each day!