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.”

Tornado Safety for RVers: What to Do During a Tornado

You can’t always drive away from bad weather. That’s why you need to know tornado safety for RVers. Here’s what to do if you’re in your RV when a tornado hits.

I want to give the biggest tip right off the bat because if you don’t read anything else, you’ll at least have read this. Take every single tornado warning seriously. 

People easily become desensitized when repeated warnings don’t lead to traumatic results. But you have to remember, it only takes one tornado to wipe you out. So, you have to take every single warning seriously.

Not taking it seriously throws away the amazing gift we have of advanced warning. Up until very recently, any warning that preceded obvious visual evidence was rare.

A pending storm in Montgomery, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Life-saving tips

Now that you’ve hopefully committed to properly reacting to tornado warnings, here is what you need to know. The following are life-saving tips that can keep you and your family safe in the event of not only a tornado but also severe windstorms.

Tip #1: Take tornado warnings seriously

Okay, okay, I know I covered this ad nauseam in the intro. But I just had to note it again real quick for the scrollers. If you scrolled past the intro, go back and read it!

Tip #2: Stay calm

Following my excessive warnings to take warnings seriously, it’s important to then advise you to stay calm. To paraphrase Hunger Games, the “odds are ever in your favor” to not get hit by a tornado. In fact, on average, more people are killed by lightning than by tornadoes every year.

Your odds of not being killed by a tornado, however, improve even more if you remain calm. And, the best way to stay calm is to be prepared. So, the following tips prepare you for you to stay calm more easily…

A storm in Virginia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tip #3: Know where to go before you need to go

If you are camping in tornado country (and especially in tornado season), talk to your campground director when you arrive. Ask them if there are any nearby shelters or what they recommend in case of a tornado.

If you’re not staying at a campground, check local resources to locate storm shelters. A simple Google search should do the trick but you can also stop in at tourist, fire, and police departments. At the very least, you can ask some locals at a diner during lunch.

The locals will likely reassure you that you don’t have to worry about tornadoes, but, remember, it only takes one tornado to take you out! 

Growing up in the area, the locals are most at risk of being desensitized to the real danger. So, let their reassurances calm you but not lead you to take storm warnings for granted.

There are also warning signs of a tornado coming you should be aware of.

Tip #4: Have old school technology on hand

Yes, your phone sends notifications of weather warnings. Yes, your GPS can show you all of the routes out of town. But neither are reliable in remote locations let alone in a severe storm. That’s why old-school tech is part of tornado safety for RVers.

You should have a weather radio with NOAA scan technology. The National Weather Service continuously broadcasts updated weather warnings and forecasts.

A physical map can also help you navigate away from a storm. But, you should only try to drive away from a building storm, not an actual tornado! 

Once you receive a tornado warning, it’s time for the next tip…

A storm in Virginia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tip #5: Abandon your RV

Your RV offers very little protection from tornadoes. As gas usage has taught us, they’re just big windsails. Not to mention the relatively thin walls and basic glass windows. 

If a tornado is headed your way, abandon your RV to seek shelter. What kind of shelter is best? That brings us to Tip #6…

Tip #6: Seek these types of shelters

Whether or not you’re from Tornado Alley, you likely know that underground shelters are best. If there is one nearby, go for it. But in many cases, an underground shelter will not be available or close enough, especially in campgrounds.

Your next best bet is to hunker down inside or behind a concrete structure. Campground bathrooms are often made of concrete so that can be a good option. Dumpsters are often surrounded by concrete walls so pushing the dumpster out and hunkering inside is another option. 

Most deaths and injuries from tornadoes are caused by flying debris. So, your goal is to put a thick barrier between you and debris whether it’s the ground, concrete walls, or a large boulder.

An interior room without windows like in the clubhouse is a viable option as well.

If there are no shelters nearby (which is often the case if you’re driving) then the next best thing falls under Tip #7.

A storm in Virginia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tip #7: Seek the lowest point in the ground

If you are driving along and suddenly realize a tornado is bearing down on you, pull over, get out of your RV, and seek the lowest point in the ground. The same is true if you’re camping or parked somewhere where no strong shelters are available.

As I previously mentioned, flying debris presents the biggest danger. So, lying down in a ditch or even crawling into a large storm pipe can give you added protection. The idea is for any debris to fly over you, not into you. 

If it’s possible to quickly and easily grab some couch cushions or a mattress from your RV to cover yourself with, all the better. But only do that if it doesn’t cost you much time. Your priority is to get in the ditch!

Tip #8: Beware of downed power lines

Aside from flying debris, another big danger most people don’t consider is downed power lines. If you were in or near a tornado’s path, be alert for power lines that went down in the storm. This is key in practicing tornado safety for RVers!

Give downed power lines a very wide berth! They can skip around. More so, they can still transmit electricity through wet ground. Since rain often accompanies tornadoes, getting anywhere close to a downed power line can get you electrocuted.

After the storm? © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

More tips for tornado safety for RVers

Though I’ve covered the “biggies” in this article, I always say the more tips the better! If you have any additional tips for tornado safety for RVers, please share them on social media. 

Since I’m talking safety, here are a few related articles:

And now to take our minds off the scary threats of nature, let’s take a trip through all of the beauty America has to offer…

I have a travel library filled with RV adventure guides. They’re tried-and-true itineraries based on our real travels. Here is a sampling:

Worth Pondering…

Outside the rain began to pour in sheets, and the wind howled. Giant pieces of hail began to pelt the building—banging off the skylights so hard that Simpson worried the glass might shatter. Then, as it had earlier in the day, the wind briefly let up. It was then Simpson heard a sound she had dreaded—a sound she couldn’t believe she was actually hearing. It was 2:40 p.m. and the tornado sirens in Moore started to wail.

―Holly Bailey, The Mercy of the Sky: The Story of a Tornado

November 2023 RV Manufacturer Recalls: 13 Recalls Involving 8 RV Manufactures

A manufacturer recall can create a safety risk if not repaired

Your recreational vehicle may be involved in a safety recall and may create a safety risk for you or your passengers. Safety defects must be repaired by a certified dealer at no cost to you. However, if left unrepaired, a potential safety defect in your vehicle could lead to injury or even death.

What is a recall?

It’s always important to keep up with the latest recalls, no matter how small the issue may appear to be. Each week, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) publishes the latest information on recalls from minor to major defects. NHTSA releases its most recent list of recalls each Monday.

When a manufacturer or the NHTSA determines that a recreational vehicle or item of RV equipment creates an unreasonable safety risk or fails to meet minimum safety standards, the manufacturer must fix that vehicle or equipment at no cost to the consumer.

It should be noted that RV recalls are related to vehicle safety and not product quality. NHTSA has no interest in an air conditioner failing to cool or slide out failing to extend or retract—unless they can be directly attributed to product safety.

Information on previous safety recalls follow:

NHTSA announced 13 recall notices in November 2023. These recalls involved 8 recreational vehicle manufacturers—Forest River (4 recalls), Winnebago (2 recalls), Gulf Stream (1 recall), Jayco (2 recalls), Thor Motor Coach (1 recall), Triple E (1 recall), Airstream (1 recall), and Newell (1 recall).

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

Forest River

Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2023-2024 Sandstorm, Stealth, and 2024 Shockwave travel trailers. The wire routed from the 50AMP inlet to the transfer switch in the distribution panel is the incorrect gauge, which may cause the wire to melt.

Dealers will replace the incorrect 10-gauge wire with a 6-gauge wire, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed December 13, 2023. Owners may contact Forest River Customer Service at 1-951-357-2327. Forest River’s number for this recall is 67-1700.

Forest River

Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2018-2024 Coachmen Adrenaline and 2020-2024 Work and Play fifth wheels and travel trailers. The side marker lights may not reflect light as intended, which can make it difficult for other drivers to see the trailer. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard number 108, “Lamps, Reflective Devices, and Associated Equipment.”

Dealers will install reflector stickers, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed December 13, 2023. Owners may contact Forest River Customer Service at 1-574-825-6302. Forest River’s number for this recall is 320-1697.

Sundance 1 RV Resort, Casa Grande, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Forest River

Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2022-2024 Forester and Sunseeker motorhomes. The park brake signal wire may not be connected to the house battery control center, which can allow the slideroom to extend during transit.

Dealers will connect the signal wire to the battery control center, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed December 27, 2023. Owners may contact Forest River Customer Service at 1-574-206-7600. Forest River’s number for this recall is 34-1707.

Forest River

Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2022-2024 Forester and Sunseeker motorhomes. The park brake signal wire may not be connected to the house battery control center, which can allow the slideroom to extend during transit.

Dealers will connect the signal wire to the battery control center, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed December 27, 2023. Owners may contact Forest River Customer Service at 1-574-206-7600. Forest River’s number for this recall is 34-1707.

Winnebago

Winnebago Industries, Inc. (Winnebago) is recalling certain 2024 Solis motorhomes. The fasteners that secure the sliding seat in the extended position are missing. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard number 207, “Seating Systems.”

Dealers will install the missing fasteners, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed December 23, 2023. Owners may contact Winnebago customer service at 1-641-585-6939 or 1-800-537-1885. Winnebago’s number for this recall is 180.

Winnebago

Winnebago Towable (Winnebago) is recalling certain 2017-2018 Micro Minnie travel trailers. The murphy bed may raise unintentionally if there is weight at the head of the bed and the button strap is not properly latched.

Dealers will install a new automatic latching mechanism, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed January 5, 2024. Owners may contact Winnebago customer service at 1-574-825-5280 ext. 5220. Winnebago’s number for this recall is CAM0000031.

Palm Springs Joshua Tree KOA, Desert Hot Springs, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Gulf Stream

Gulf Stream Coach Inc. (Gulf Stream) is recalling certain 2024 Conquest, Independence, Trailmaster, Friendship, and Ameri-Lite, model 177BH, travel trailers. The Federal certification label may contain incorrect tire size and tire pressure information. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard number 110, “Tire Selection and Rims,” and 49 CFR Part 567, “Certification.”

Gulf Stream will mail replacement labels to owners, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed December 4, 2023. Owners may contact Gulf Stream at 1-800-289-8787.

Jayco

Jayco, Inc. (Jayco) is recalling certain 2023-2024 Jayco White Hawk travel trailers. A window may be incorrectly marked as an emergency exit.

Dealer will replace the red handle and red screen knob and remove the exit decal, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed December 8, 2023. Owners may contact Jayco customer service at 1-800-283-8267. Jayco’s number for this recall is 9901596.

Sea Breeze RV Park, Portland, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Jayco

Jayco, Inc. (Jayco) is recalling certain 2023-2024 Entegra Emblem, Vision, Vision XL, Jayco Alante, Precept, and Precept Prestige motorhomes. Corrosion in the Smart Data Link Connector (SDLC) may interfere with the Controller Area Network (CAN) communication, resulting in an inoperative instrument panel. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard numbers 101, “Control and Displays” and 105, “Hydraulic and Electric Brake Systems.”

Ford dealers will install a wire harness connector, and inspect and replace the SDLC module, as necessary, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed December 15, 2023. Owners may contact Jayco customer service at 1-800-283-8267.

Thor Motor Coach

Thor Motor Coach (TMC) is recalling certain 2021-2024 Thor Rize and Scope motorhomes. The solar panel frame may fracture around the mounting bolts, allowing the panel to detach from the vehicle.

The remedy is currently under development. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed January 9, 2024. Owners may contact TMC customer service at 1-877-855-2867. TMC’s number for this recall is RC000298

Triple E

Triple E Recreational Vehicles (Triple E) is recalling certain 2023-2024 Triple E Wonder W24RTB, W24RL, and W24FTB motorhomes. The wire insulation on the 120-volt wire routed to the air conditioner may become damaged, which can cause electrical arcing.

Dealers will install a grommet and 2 screws, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed November 21, 2023. Owners may contact Triple E customer service at 1-877-992-9906. Triple E’s number for this recall is CA#10438-1.

Airstream

Airstream, Inc. (Airstream) is recalling certain 2019-2024 Interstate 19, Interstate 24, Interstate 24X, Rangeline and Atlas motorhomes. The Federal Certification Label and Tire Placard may indicate incorrect tire pressure and tire size. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard number 110, “Tire Selection and Rims.”

Airstream will mail corrected labels, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed January 16, 2024. Owners may contact Airstream customer service at 1-877-596-6505 or 1-937-596-6111 ext. 7401 or 7411.

Newell

Newell Coach Corp. (Newell) is recalling certain 2024 P50 motor coaches. The low beam headlights may be installed incorrectly.

Dealers will adjust the low beam headlights, free of charge. The manufacturer has not yet provided a schedule for recall notification. Owners may contact Newell customer service at 1-888-363-9355.

Please Note: This is the 57th in a series of posts relating to RV Manufacturers Recalls

Worth Pondering…

It is easier to do a job right than to explain why you didn’t.

—Martin Van Buren

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.

September 2023 RV Manufacturer Recalls: 6 Recalls Involving 4 RV Manufactures

A manufacturer recall can create a safety risk if not repaired

Your recreational vehicle may be involved in a safety recall and may create a safety risk for you or your passengers. Safety defects must be repaired by a certified dealer at no cost to you. However, if left unrepaired, a potential safety defect in your vehicle could lead to injury or even death.

What is a recall?

It’s always important to keep up with the latest recalls, no matter how small the issue may appear to be. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) publishes the latest information on recalls from minor to major defects each week. NHTSA releases its most recent list of recalls each Monday.

When a manufacturer or the NHTSA determines that a recreational vehicle or item of RV equipment creates an unreasonable safety risk or fails to meet minimum safety standards, the manufacturer is required to fix that vehicle or equipment at no cost to the consumer.

It should be noted that RV recalls are related to vehicle safety and not product quality. NHTSA has no interest in an air conditioner failing to cool or slide out or failing to extend or retract—unless they can be directly attributed to product safety.

Information on previous safety recalls follow:

NHTSA announced 6 recall notices in September 2023. These recalls involved 4 recreational vehicle manufacturers—Forest River (3 recalls), Triple E (1 recall), Airstream (1 recall), and Winnebago (1 recall).

Rain Spirit RV Resort, Cottonwood, Arizona© Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Forest River

Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2024 Sabre fifth wheels. The Federal Placard indicates an incorrect cargo carrying capacity (CCC) and dry weight, which can result in an overloaded vehicle. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard number 120, “Wheels and Rims-Other Than Passenger Cars” and 49 CFR Part 567 “Certification.”

Dealers will mail owners a new Federal Placard, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed October 11, 2023. Owners may contact Forest River Customer Service at 1-260-499-2100. Forest River’s number for this recall is 62-1671

Forest River

Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2022 Della Terra Travel Trailers and Silver Lake travel trailers. The sidewall extrusion may not have been properly installed, which can cause the aluminum siding to detach.

Dealers will inspect and replace the sidewall metal as necessary, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed October 11, 2023. Owners may contact Forest River Customer Service at 1-574-264-6664. Forest River’s number for this recall is 500-1672.

Rio Bend RV & Golf Resort, El Centro, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Forest River

Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is recalling certain 2024 Palomino hardside and softside truck campers. An unnecessary charge line may have been connected to the lithium battery.

Dealers will disconnect the charge line and install bell caps, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed October 25, 2023. Owners may contact Palomino customer service at 1-269-432-3271. Forest River’s number for this recall is 400-1677.

Triple E

Triple E Recreational Vehicles (Triple E) is recalling certain 2021-2022 Unity U24IB and 2021-2023 U24TB motorhomes. The battery disconnect switch may contact the refrigerator frame, causing it to short circuit and blow the fuse.

Dealers will install a full protective plastic cover, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed September 8, 2023. Owners may contact Triple E customer service at 1-877-992-9906. Triple E’s number for this recall is CA#10253-1R. This recall supersedes NHTSA Recall 23V002.

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

Airstream

Airstream, Inc. (Airstream) is recalling certain 2021-2023 16′ Basecamp and 20′ Basecamp travel trailers manufactured without an air conditioner. The 12-gauge wire for future air conditioner installation was not properly terminated inside the junction box.

Dealers will remove the wire from the circuit breaker and power converter, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed October 31, 2023. Owners may contact Airstream customer service at 1-877-596-6505 or 1-937-596-6111 ext. 7401 or 7411.

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

Winnebago

Winnebago Industries, Inc. (Winnebago) is recalling certain 2017-2024 Travato motorhomes. The retractable awning may extend unintentionally during transit.

The remedy is currently under development. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed November 7, 2023. Owners may contact Winnebago customer service at 1-574-585-6939 or 1-800-537-1885. Winnebago’s number for this recall is 176. This recall replaces and expands NHTSA Recall 22V-696. Motorhomes previously repaired under 22V-696 will need to have the new remedy completed.

Please Note: This is the 55th in a series of posts relating to RV Manufacturers Recalls

Worth Pondering…

It is easier to do a job right than to explain why you didn’t.

—Martin Van Buren

What Every RVer Needs in Their Basic Tool Kit

25 tools you need on hand for your RV

For the most part, a basic RV tool kit is what every RVer needs. And when I say basic, I really do mean BASIC—the parts and tools you’ll most likely actually USE at some point.

Why You Need an RV Tool Kit?

Driving an RV down the road is frequently compared to owning a home that goes through a continuous earthquake and hurricane at the same time. Because of this, things frequently go wrong and need to be repaired. Whether you are handy or not (and I’m not), you will find it helpful to have a set of tools for simple fixes or even major repairs. Often a problem can at least be patched up to prevent further damage until a proper fix can be made.

What is an RV Tool Kit?

An RV tool kit is a collection of standard tools and items to assist with RV repairs and maintenance. Different situations call for various tools, so having an array of commonly used items can be handy.

Your RV set-up may require certain tools © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tool Kit Basics

Ready to hit the road? Not so fast! Let’s take a moment to inventory that tool kit of yours. I’ve rounded up a list of tools you want in your tool kit before you hit the road. Unnecessary tools waste space and add weight to your RV. You don’t want to carry around tools you’ll never use–and you certainly don’t want to be without the right tools when you need them most! Let’s look at some tools I think anyone should have in their RV tool kit. Cheers to a fun (and prepared) RV adventure!

Heavy-duty work gloves

Your hands can take a beating while RVing. A pair of heavy-duty work gloves can protect your hands when working on odd jobs or doing repairs. They can also add grip when needed. 

Multi-tool

Put fixing power in your pocket with multi-tools including pull-out knives, screwdrivers, scissors, bottle opener, and pliers from top brands like Leatherman, Victorinox, Gerber, and Outbound. Multi-tools come in handy in all situations so it’s never a bad idea to have one—even just to open a bottle of wine in a pinch.

Sewer hose and connection to sewer outlet © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Set of screwdrivers

Your RV is going to have all different shapes and sizes of screws. If you could pick just one tool to have, it’s a screwdriver. But, you’ll need to make sure you’ve either got a range of screwdrivers or a multi-bit screwdriver to save space. From vehicle-related issues to cosmetic things like decorating or adjusting your finishings, a range of screwdrivers will come in handy.

Silicone spray lubricant

Silicone spray stops squeaks but does not attract dirt.

Channellocks

These will come in handy if you ever find yourself having to change the hitch ball on your tow hitch. In combination with the right socket wrench set, they can also help you make adjustments to other hitch equipment that needs to be tightened to the right specs for safe towing.

Hex Key Allen wrench set

Hexagonal screws are used in all sorts of products including tables and bicycles. To loosen or tighten these screws, you’ll need a special type of wrench called an Allen wrench or hex wrench. These wrenches usually come in a set with several sizes and feature different arm lengths, end types, and storage cases.

Crescent adjustable wrench

No matter how many wrench sizes you already have, an adjustable wrench is a must. Sometimes, it’s simply impossible to find the perfect wrench size for the nut you’re trying to loosen. This is where your adjustable wrench will keep you from damaging the nut or bolt and putting yourself in an even deeper hole.

Electric Management System including surge protection © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

LED flashlights

Flashlights aren’t just great for taking on night hikes but also for peering into your RV’s dark spaces. This tool can provide light when working in cabinets or under your rig. Have one designated to your tools and several others in the different location in the interior of your rig as well as your tow/tow vehicle. Many people like LED headlamps or magnetic LED lights to keep their hands free to work. Naturally, you’ll want a pack of batteries, too.

Assorted fuses

Vehicle fuses can blow at any time so it’s a good idea to keep extras around. We like to travel with a variety of sizes. But remember—something caused it to blow in the first place. Address the original issue as soon as you can. 

Tire pressure gauge

Having a tire pressure gauge is a huge must. Checking tire pressures before each travel day should be an RV checklist items. Not all tire pressure gauges are equal. Be sure to carry a heavy duty tire gauge that works for 120 psi or higher.

Ladder

If you have an especially tall rig, consider a telescoping ladder so it can be easily tucked away. From sorting out issues with your awning to cleaning debris off the roof or checking for issues, it’s never a mistake to have a way to get up high safely.

All the tape

As is the case with any tool kit, you’ve got to have duct tape. From temporarily fixing leaks and other on-the-go repairs, you’ll be so happy you have it. On top of that, you’ll want to pack Rhino tape and electrical tape so you can deal with any issues that arise. Tape could be your best friend in a pinch, so you can never have too many options in your back pocket.

Zip ties

In the same vein, you might find yourself in a pinch and in need of an easy and creative fix. Especially when it comes to RV travel, you want to be sure everything is secured in place. Zip ties (and tape) are some of the best things to keep on hand.

Dawn Dish Soap © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tape measure

Self-explanatory! We use ours endlessly. You never know when you will need to measure something in the RV. A 25-foot tape measure should be more than long enough for most situations. Knowing if an item will fit before buying it can save you many dollars and headaches.

Bungee cords

There’s a laundry list of applications for which bungee cords will help you: keeping water containers upright in your truck bed, securing heavy tools so they don’t slide around, securing cupboard doors, expanding your carrying capacity by allowing you to strap camping gear to your roof rack. I recommend having a variety of different lengths and thicknesses so that you have the right bungee cord for the job.

First aid kit

No one should leave home without a first aid kit especially when they’re going on an extended adventure. This is why first aid kits are a necessity in every RV. First aid kits include the essentials such as bandaids, antiseptic wipes, gloves, swabs, scissors, iodine pads, and an emergency blanket. Some first aid kits come with a first aid guide.

Reversible mat

Much of the RV experience is spent relaxing outside the rig, perhaps under an awning but certainly on the ground alongside the RV. A mat which can be used to provide some underfoot protection goes a long way toward making the experience that much more comfortable.

Disposable vinyl gloves © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Utility knife

A utility knife is a fantastic tool to have in your tool kit. It cuts with a removable razor blade, so the edge is both incredibly sharp and very disposable. That means this type of knife is ideal for all of the grunt-work cutting jobs that are too difficult for scissors and too dulling and damaging for a nice pocket knife.

Pliars

Any good set of pliers will do but you’ll definitely need them in your RV tool kit. Needle nose pliers are perfect for harder-to-reach applications and great for precisely pinching connectors when finishing electrical repairs.

Vice grips

Another variation of pliers, locking vise grips allow you to maintain a better grip without constantly squeezing with your maximum strength. They’re also useful for holding things in place temporarily.

Hammer

A claw hammer is always good tool to have available. In addition to using it as a hammer, you can use it to bend things back into shape, knock something loose, or use the claw as a crow bar to pry something apart.

Water pressure regulator © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Water pressure regulator

Since water pressures vary depending on where you’re camping, a pressure regulator is a small but vital addition to your RV tool kit for protecting your RV water system.

Folding step stool

Whether you’re 5 feet 2 inches or 6 feet 2 inches, a step stool is a handy accessory to have in your RV. They help you reach higher storage areas and can provide an extra step up into your rig.

Camp chairs

There’s nothing more relaxing than sitting around a campfire in the middle of nowhere but it’s a little hard to do that if you don’t have anything to sit on. Folding camp chairs are compact, comfortable, easily stored. 

Hammock

Not really a tool but hammocks bring some comfiness to the outdoor space. When you arrive at that epic campsite you can set up a cozy reading or napping nook in the trees.

Jack pads © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What’s in Your RV Tool Kit? 

As you can see, there are many tools that you’ll find helpful in your RV tool kit. Most don’t take up much room but you’ll be glad you have them. Having the appropriate tools can help reduce anxiety and stress, especially in emergencies. 

Conclusion

Whether you’re a weekend RVer, a snowbird, or a full-timer, carrying an RV tool kit is important. But you don’t need to break the bank for the basics. Many of the tools and items noted in this article may be things you have on hand. If you keep them together in a versatile tool kit, you can move them into the RV whenever you travel. Or better yet—simply reach for your RV tool kit when you need to do a project at home.

Worth Pondering…

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.

—Benjamin Franklin

Ways Driving an RV Can Help You Drive Your Normal Vehicle

Recreational vehicles can introduce drivers to new experiences on the road. Lessons learned here can be applied to their daily life using their regular vehicle.

The RV lifestyle inspires millions of people. High-flying celebrities are buckling up in these vehicles and hitting the road triggering onsets of wanderlust the world over. People love the RV experience but sometimes underestimate the number of lessons that can be learned here as a road user.

Driving an RV can be incredibly informative. In many cases, it may even help you drive your normal vehicle more proficiently. Here’s a quick breakdown of how that could be possible.

Class A motorhome at Las Vegas RV Resort, Las Vegas, Nevada © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Learning about the Vehicle Infotainment System

Some RVs come equipped with infotainment systems already installed. These systems can also be installed in your standard automobile but the RV often serves as an introduction to them.

The tech has many useful features, including, but not limited to the following:

  • Backup cameras
  • Wi-Fi capabilities
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • Satellite TV
  • GPS technology
  • Touchscreen equipment to access and manage all features
Driving a Class C motorhome on Utah Scenic Byway 12 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Building your awareness levels

RVs are great to drive but they also require a level of perception and awareness that’s greater than the typical road user might expect. They’re larger vehicles, presenting different types of navigational and maneuverable challenges.

You can be more keenly aware of blind spots when driving an RV. Moreover, you may also adapt to the size of your vehicle and whether it can get through certain spaces well. With these concerns, you may pre-plan journeys optimizing your routes so that you don’t find yourself in tight squeezes.

Unfortunately, many tragic accidents can occur due to blind spots on vehicles. Many of these incidents can be prevented if drivers do their due diligence. RVs might provide the wake-up call you could need as a driver or reaffirm the discipline behind what you already know.

After all, regular vehicles have blindspots too and drivers of them still need to contend with uncomfortable spaces as well when parking. Patience is a key virtue behind the wheel and RV drivers need it greatly. Regular road users, on the other hand, can lose their tempers quickly. Ultimately, you may well become a more attentive and calm driver for your experience with an RV.

Class A motorhome parked at Padre Island National Seashore, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Better braking practices

Some road users stop their vehicles at the very last minute. This is not a smart thing to do. When a vehicle’s brakes are used, the kinetic energy your vehicle creates when moving is converted into heat. After that, the energy is lost and it’s replaced by consuming more fuel.

So, excessive and sudden braking is a problem. Further complications can occur:

  • Losing momentum unnecessarily and needing to accelerate in faster and more frequent spurts. Fuel is wasted when stopping and starting in traffic as the vehicle needs to use more fuel inching forward than it would when maintaining a regular speed.
  • Sharp braking increases wear and tear on the brakes making them less effective over time as well as delaying response times.

Where do RVs fit in this picture? RVs have a greater stopping distance compared to regular cars. That means driving one can help you anticipate stops and form the habit of switching gears and slowing down when approaching one rather than sharply braking at the eleventh hour.

Fifth wheel trailers parked at Hilltop RV Park, Fort Stockton, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Fuel efficiency

Effective braking can also lead to better fuel efficiency. This is one of the main concerns on most drivers’ minds today. Any solution or strategy that can minimize fuel costs is undoubtedly worth exploring. So, that’s another important way RVs can help you drive your normal vehicle, helping you adopt driving techniques that improve fuel conservation and reduce your spending on gas.

Class A motorhome at Dakota Campground, Mitchell, South Dakota © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Greater Driving Versatility

A lot of people can feel very nervous about driving. It’s completely understandable.

Driving an RV is undoubtedly more involved than driving a regular vehicle. However, as you can see so far, there’s plenty of room for crossover. Once you’ve mastered driving an RV, you may find that you become a more confident road user, adopting a more versatile skillset with more confidence in what you’re doing.

You may also respect the road more. Many drivers can take liberties and underestimate the breadth of their responsibilities. Driving an RV can keep you grounded and ensure you never take driving for granted improving the safety of yourself and others.

Worth Pondering…

Yesterday was history, today is reality, and tomorrow is opportunity.

—David Pearce

What Is the Difference Between a Garden Hose and an RV Drinking Water Hose?

Read this before buying an RV water hose

A hose is a hose … or is it? Before you’re tempted to save a buck by connecting a garden hose to your RV freshwater tank, stop and read this article. There are good reasons why RV supply stores want to sell you a real RV freshwater hose instead.

On the surface you might think that all water hoses are the same. And RV drinking water hoses cost at least twice as much as a garden hose. If you’ve ever wondered if putting an RV water hose label onto a hose is just a marketing ploy, you’re not alone. The truth is, RV drinking water hoses are not just a gimmick.

The important differences between a garden hose and an RV water hose can mean the difference between putting poison into your body and staying healthy.

An RV water hose may seem like a pretty simple thing: it’s just the tube connecting you to the city water hookup and ensuring fresh water comes flowing out of your taps, shower head, and toilet.

And in many ways, an RV water hose is pretty simple. But there are also a few things to know about these important pieces of equipment before you set out on a camping trip.

For example, an RV water hose is different from a standard garden hose and you will also need a water pressure regulator to ensure the city water pressure isn’t too strong for your RV’s sensitive systems.

In this post, I’ll walk you through everything you need to know about RV water hoses—so let’s get started.

Water hose and pressure regulator attached to city water connection © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What is the best RV water hose?

You will find an RV water hose on every RV accessory and camping checklist. After all, since we all need water to survive it’s a pretty important piece of equipment. If you have visited a local RV supply store you know there are different types of water hoses for your RV. The two main types of RV freshwater hoses are:

  • RV drinking (or potable) water hoses
  • RV heated water hoses

The best water hose will vary for each RVer depending on their needs (or even just their current destination and season).

But there’s one rule of thumb I want to ensure you have locked down before you even think about buying an RV water hose and that’s this: No, your normal green garden hose will not cut it!

Garden hoses are not rated for potable water in the same way RV drinking water hoses are and they can leech chemicals into your water supply that taste and smell bad and can even be toxic.

So when you’re in the market for a water hose for your RV make sure that first and foremost you find one that’s specifically made for drinking, or potable, water.

Different types of RV water hoses

Let’s take a more detailed look at the types of RV drinking water hoses.

RV potable water hose

I’ve already mentioned potable and drinking water hoses as the terms are interchangeable. Often, these hoses are bright white or blue to distinguish them from typical green garden hoses.

Heated RV water hose © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Heated RV water hose

If you’ll be traveling somewhere where the temperatures dip below freezing a heated water hose is essential to ensure your water source doesn’t freeze up. If you keep using a regular hose at sub-freezing temperatures the hose is apt to split when the water inside it freezes leading to a mess that’s no fun to clean up in chilly temperatures—not to mention a lack of water coming out of your taps.

Heated RV water hoses are well-insulated and come with electric elements to physically heat the hose itself and keep the water inside from freezing. They are also rated for drinking water and thus are safe to use for RVers. The heated hose usually has a heat strip along the side of the hose. That strip is plugged into a standard 110 volt electrical connection to heat it up. Since the hose stays above freezing the water in the hose will not freeze and continues to flow freely into your RV. They are sometimes also called no-freeze water hoses.

Heated water hose attached to city water connection © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Benefits and features of RV water hoses

Of these various types of RV hoses many also advertise additional perks such as no-kink, no-twist, or no-tangle.

RV water hoses come in various lengths but the most common are 6-, 12-, 25- and 50-foot lengths. If you have camped much at all you know the distance from the campground water source to your RV can vary greatly. Having different hoses with different lengths can come in handy. Ideally, you want just enough length to get you connected without putting a strain on the hose. You also do not want a curled up hose as they tend to kink and restrict water flow (even when they’re advertised as no-kink hoses. If you have more hose than you need its best to stretch it out to create a smooth water flow inside.

That said, it makes sense to carry multiple drinking water hoses in your RV. The best RV water hose is the one that’s long enough to cover all your bases without being unwieldy. That is why I recommend two 25-foot hoses rather than one 50-foot hose.

RV water hose and reel © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RV water hose pricing

RV water hose pricing does depend on the brand and type you get and heated RV water hoses are, not surprisingly, considerably pricier than those that don’t come with insulation and heating elements. A heated RV water hose might set you back about $100 whereas an uninsulated (but potable-water-safe) RV drinking hose will cost about $10-$30.

What to look for when buying an RV water hose

When shopping for an RV water hose, be sure to look for one that specifically states its drinking water safe. After that, you’ll want to buy your hose based on whether or not you need a heated hose for winter camping and then you can think about extra additions like kink-free or tangle-free hoses. Some RVs come with built-in storage devices like a hose reel; hose bags are also available to keep your coiled-up hose stored neatly and securely.

Another accessory you need for your RV water setup is a water pressure regulator which helps ensure the city water pressure isn’t too strong for your RV’s sensitive system. Water pressure regulators are relatively inexpensive with prices starting at about $10-$15 and it’s certainly a whole lot less expensive than dealing with a plumbing system fiasco.

Psst: Your RV water hose and its various accompaniments are only one of the many RV parts and accessories that can make or break your camping trip! Click here to read my post on must-have RV accessories which will get you up to speed on everything from sewer hoses to electoral adapters.

This is why you need to attach a pressure regulator to your city water connection © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Garden hose

  • Often made from unregulated e-waste materials
  • Usually contain unregulated amounts of lead, BPA, and phthalates
  • Another toxic plasticizer used to make garden hoses includes polyvinyl chloride, a substance connected to various cancers and health problems
  • Other harmful substances include organotin and antimony
  • Water tastes terrible when taken from a garden hose

RV drinking water hose

  • Must meet a set of federal standards
  • Drinking water hoses must comply with the 2014 Federal Safe Drinking Water Act
  • Materials can withstand UV breakdown and chemical leakage into water
  • RV drinking water hose materials don’t have BPA or phthalate toxins
  • A DWS Drinking Water Safe hose is NSF certified and FDA approved
  • Water tastes better

Connecting a garden hose for RV drinking water purposes puts you at great risk of health issues now and in the future. Is your life worth saving a few pennies? What about your loved ones?

Buy an RV water hose and use it to prevent health problems. Add a high quality RV water filter system for a higher level of protection.

Water filter © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RV water hose: FAQs

I’ll finish out this article about RV water hoses by answering some of the most frequently asked questions about them.

Can I use a garden hose for my RV?

Remember my first rule of thumb above: NO! Your general green garden hose is not safe to drink from. They release heavy metals and other toxic substances into the water that can make us humans sick.

Can I use a drinking hose as a garden hose?

Now, in the other direction, exchanging your garden hose for a drinking hose would work just fine but a drinking hose is more expensive than a garden hose so it would be a waste of money.

What are RV water hoses made of?

Potable water hoses are made of various food-safe ingredients such as UV-stabilized polyether-based polyurethane.

Happy camping—and stay hydrated out there!

Now that you know all about the RV water hose and pressure regulator accessories you need you’re almost ready to hit the open road. Plan your route with one of the many online tools available today and don’t forget to take photos of your experiences. Happy travels!

Worth Pondering…

I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.

—Stephen Covey

How to Stay Safe When RVing

10 tips for staying safe on RV trips

There is no question that the open road is a dangerous place. When you are traveling along highways and interstates, staying in campgrounds and RV parks, or exploring the wilds of the U.S. and Canada, it is easy to forget that fact. This is always a mistake.

If there is one piece of good advice I can give you and yours, it is to never, ever let down your guard.

While you cannot avoid every issue that might arise during your travels, advanced planning and trip preparation will help you to avoid or at least be prepared to deal with many of the problems that may arise along your journey.

Predators, drunk drivers, thieves, and scammers are everywhere and breakdowns can and do occur. There are also risks when dealing with nature. Therefore, it’s up to you figure out how you will deal with unhappy situations if they should happen. This article will show you how to do that.

Drive defensively © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

1. Drive defensively

Every person who owns a camper, travel or fifth-wheel trailer, or motorhome should make it a point to learn how to safely drive their travel unit.

You can avoid many mishaps by staying within the posted speed limit, being especially careful when entering and exiting Interstates and secondary highways, taking care when pulling into truck stop fuel islands, and avoiding driving distractions such as texting or trying to read maps while driving your RV.

Even if you do all of these things, you need to remember that the next guy might not be as conscientious as you.

People do stupid things such as putting on makeup, reading maps, talking on cell phones, and trying to balance food or liquids on their laps when they drive. Some are drunk, high, or medicated as well. Others may never have taken the time to learn how to drive big rigs.

No matter the cause, these people are a danger to you and your family so you must remain alert at all times.

If you see someone driving erratically, too slow or too fast, stay as far away from them as you can. Doing this may slow down your arrival time but it can also save your life.

Maintain your RV © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

2. Take care of your vehicles

Repairing and maintaining vehicles is costly and time-consuming. For this reason, many people allow their rigs to fall into disrepair. When this happens, they are no longer safe to drive.

If you cannot afford to take proper care of your RV or tow vehicle you need to find some other way to travel because to do otherwise can bring great harm to you, to your family, and other people as well.

On the other hand, if you take the time to learn how to make minor repairs yourself and check your coach regularly for problems (and fix them quickly), you should be able to safely use your coach for many years.

Checking to see that tires are properly inflated, lights and turn signals are working, brakes are functioning, steps are retracted and antennas are down, and awnings are secured are all simple things you can do that will help you to avoid problems. Also, walk around your RV at each travel stop to ensure that no issues have arisen en route.

Keep a clean campsite an stow belongings when not in use © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3. Protect your belongings

Many people think campgrounds and RV parks are safe but this isn’t always the case. Most have poor security systems, so it is up to you to take steps to protect your belongings.

It is never OK to leave camping equipment and gear outside of units when you go off to fish, hike, or take part in a variety of other activities.

This is a bad practice because other campers also like to play tourists. This means there might not be anybody left to oversee your belongings when they are gone.

Awkward as it is, the only way for you to make sure your belongings will be there once you return home is to stow them away before you leave.

If you have a safe in your coach, you should use it. If you don’t have one, take your valuables with you.

You may think that locking your doors and windows will protect your things but the truth is that many RVs share the same locking systems. Thus one key can open many doors and windows are fairly easy to open, even when locked.

To resolve this issue, put a dead bolt lock on your entrance door.

You may think you can avoid doing these things by asking a neighbor to watch your things but you don’t know who these people are or who will be visiting them.

Make safety your first priority © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

4. Practice safe camping

Camping is one of the best opportunities to get outside and enjoy the beautiful outdoors. However, your picture-perfect camping trip can quickly go awry if you’re not careful and prepared. To enjoy your camping trip to the fullest, you need to ensure that everyone on the trip is safe.

When it comes to camping, safety should always be your #1 priority (although having fun is a close second). A camping mishap can quickly turn a great trip into a camping nightmare.

Never assume that stopping points are safe. Many are not. The world has changed a great deal since the days when people could stay overnight in rest areas or camp in unsecured and unguarded areas.

The last thing you want is to head out on your camping trip unprepared for the weather only to be faced with unexpected rain, snow, or even extreme heat and humidity. Weather conditions can be very unpredictable and can change on a dime. Be sure to check the weather forecast for the entire length of your trip before you hit the road.

Not only is extreme weather unpleasant but it can also be dangerous if you’re unprepared and caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The bottom line here is that you should do whatever you can to stay safe and also avoid taking risks if you want a good RV travel experience.

Camp safely © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

5. More safe camping tips

When you are inside of a coach, there is only 3 inches of wall protecting you and it doesn’t take much to shoot a bullet through that wall or break through it.

This is why you should do as follows:

  • Only stay overnight in campgrounds or in well populated spots that are monitored regularly
  • Hide your valuables and cash
  • If you do not feel safe in your campsite, drive away and find a better situation
  • If you hear unusual noises in the night, do not step outside to investigate. Instead call the campground manager or 911.
  • Keep windows covered so that outsiders are unable to judge where you are when you’re inside your coach

Remember that things can be replaced, but people cannot.

Prepare for every emergency © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

6. Protect your health

first aid kit readily available in an emergency isn’t just a good idea—it’s a necessity for every RVer. A well-stocked first-aid kit and manual can help you respond effectively to common injuries and emergencies. You can purchase first aid kits and refills at the Red Cross store, and most pharmacies, or assemble your own.

Contents of a first-aid kit should include adhesive tape, antibiotic ointment, antiseptic solution or towelettes, bandages, calamine lotion, cotton balls and cotton-tipped swabs, gauze pads, and roller gauze in assorted sizes, first aid manual, petroleum jelly or other lubricant, safety pins in assorted sizes, scissors and tweezers, and sterile eyewash.

Familiarize yourself with the items in the first aid kit and know how to properly use them. Check your first-aid kits regularly, at least every three months, to replace supplies that have expired.

The Mayo Clinic is an excellent source of first aid information to help you during a medical emergency.

Hike safely © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

7. Understand nature’s safety issues

Nature is wonderful. People love to go to places that provide peaceful, quiet beauty, and the sense of serenity these areas provide. However, as noted above, going into nature has risks, especially for travelers who normally live in city environments. Therefore, travelers need to understand nature’s risks and be vigilant when faced with them.

8. Prepare for potential problems

One of the best ways to stay safe is to do whatever you can to prepare yourself for potential travel problems.

Just about anything in your RV that can snap, crack, rip loose, tear, bend, leak, spark, or fall off will do exactly that at the most inconvenient time. Something will need to be tightened, loosened, pounded flat, pried, or cut.

To help you deal with everyday problems and annoyances, maintain a well-equipped toolbox in the RV (always store on curbside).

Contents should include Phillips and Robertson’s head and flat-bladed screwdrivers (large, medium, small), standard and needle-nose pliers, channel-lock pliers (medium and large), 10-inch Crescent wrench, claw hammer, hobby knife with blade protector, wire cutters, tape measure, silicone sealant, Gorilla tape and glue, electrical tape, battery jumper cables, open and box-end wrenches, silicone spray, WD-40 lubricant, bungee cords, road flares/warning reflectors, fold-down shovel, stepladder, spare fuses, and heavy-duty tire pressure gauge.

Many RVers also carry a socket wrench set (standard and metric), small drill bit set and cordless drill with spare battery, and digital voltmeter.

Gorilla Tape is a brand of adhesive tape sold by the makers of Gorilla Glue, and available in several sizes and colors, including camouflage, white, and clear. Gorilla Tape can solve many problems while on the road—and you can do most anything with this stuff. RVers have used it to temporarily repair a sewer hose, keep a driver’s side window from continually falling, and even affix the coffee maker to the counter so that it doesn’t move during travel.

9. Create an escape plan

People often get a false sense of security when they look at their recreational vehicles because they give the impression of being solid and safe. But are they?

Do you know how you would react in the event of a blow out, a fire, a rollover, an approaching hurricane or tropical storm, heavy rainfall, severe winds, a flood, or a wildfire? Most people don’t which is why it’s important to take the time to create escape plans and practice using them so that you’ll know what to do in an emergency situation.

Know how to use emergency exits © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

10. Learn how to use emergency RV exits

Every second can be critical if you experience an emergency while RVing. The last thing you want to be doing is figuring out how to use an emergency exit window latch or having it stick.

An egress window is large enough to serve as an emergency exit window allowing for easy escape. The windows look like standard windows. However, they open fully to allow you to reach safety.

They should always be labeled with an EXIT label and have red latches that indicate how to open them. Everyone in the RV needs to know where the emergency exit windows are and how to use them.

Emergency exit windows are standard features on just about every RV. Most have at least one but sometimes multiple, emergency exit windows or an exit door.

Make safety your first priority © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RV travel safety is important

There are few things as rewarding as taking an RV road trip but nothing so terrible as having it ruined due to a safety issue.

If you use the above methods for protecting your RV travel safety, you should be well prepared for whatever might come your way.

Worth Pondering…

Speed was high

Weather was hot

Tires were thin

X marks the spot

—Burma Shave sign

When to Replace RV Tires

Worried that tire dealers and manufacturers are exaggerating when you need to replace motorhome and trailer tires? Well, here’s when to replace RV tires.

When to replace RV tires is a very common question among RVers that has a very important answer—an answer that can not only save you money in the long run but a big headache, too. Not to mention it directly affects your safety!

“If I can offer some advice to newbies…replace all your tires. I don’t care how old they are, how good they look, how much tread they have. If you did not put them, just do it.”

The above advice recently appeared on a Facebook RV discussion group. While this advice may seem drastic, it’s based on a sound foundation. I’ll explain why in this article as well as cover the exceptions. 

Hint: the key phrase is “if you did not put them on.”

Check your tires at each rest stop © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Learn from others’ BAD experiences

I’m unaware of why the writer lives by this advice but it’s easy to assume he learned the hard way.

First, I want to further explain or express what may be the reasoning behind this strong recommendation.

You shouldn’t necessarily trust the tires that came with your RV (either new or used). So many trailer tires are garbage. Heat kills tires; they heat up from being overloaded, going too fast, and just hot roads. A lot of trailer tires used to be only rated for 65 mph. There is a difference in quality between manufacturers.

You can’t just go by age or tread of the tires. Even if you put them on and at some point ran the tires 30 percent or more below psi for weight, replace them. That is the problem with trusting older tires from a prior owner or owners. You have NO IDEA of how often they were run with low air pressure or even flat and they are compromised and WILL blow out.

RV tire © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

When to replace RV tires

The rule of thumb for changing your RV tires is around 3-6 years. The consensus from RV owners leans to the 5-6-year end of that estimate. However, that rule of thumb only applies to quality tires that have been well cared for.

If you are driving on tires that you did not put on, you may not know the following:

  • The quality of the tires
  • If the tires were overloaded by a too-heavy RV
  • If the tires were underinflated
  • If the tires were extensively exposed to extreme temperatures or direct sunlight

All of the above can drastically affect the durability of RV tires without affecting their appearance. So, they may look like new tires with little tread wear but that can be deceiving. They can even be new tires with no tread wear and still not be safe or reliable.

So, even if there’s no dry rot, serious signs of wear or uneven wear, or obvious damage to the tire sidewalls, that’s no guarantee you won’t end up with a blown tire.

By the way, if you don’t know already, you should read about the Danger of Underinflated RV Tires.

How to REALLY know when to replace RV tires

It could be wasteful to blindly follow the above social media comment. After all, some new and used RVs come with high-quality tires that received the proper care and were always driven at the proper tire pressure. But the advice should encourage you to carefully consider your RV tires along with the following information.

Check the DOT number

You can look at the DOT number on your tire to determine its age. A DOT serial number communicates a lot of information in a short series of numbers.

DOT Numbers Represent the following in order of their grouping on your tire:

  • DOT (Department of Transportation)
  • Tire manufacturer / plant code
  • Tire size code
  • Tire manufacturer
  • Date tires were made (first two numbers are week, second two are the year)

Research the type of tire and quality

Based on the second and fourth DOT number groupings, you can research the quality of the tire. Most tires usually have the name of the manufacturer engraved on the rubber, too.

A general rule (that a lot of RVers like to shout from the rooftops) is to replace any tire made in China. These types of tires have earned the dramatic nicknames of Chinese bombs and Chinese poppers and for good reason. Chinese brands seem to blow more than any other.

Tip: You can even go as deep as researching the RV manufacturer and if they’re known for tire blowouts.

RV tire © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Determine the age of the tire

By looking at the date code (the last four digits of the DOT), you can determine the age of your tires. If any tire is beyond the 5-year mark, this is a big tick on the replace side of your should I replace my RV tires chart.

If your trailer or motorhome tires are less than 5 years old and especially less than 3 years old, you can further consider the other factors in this article.

Ask the previous owners

If you’re buying used, it’s a good idea to ask the previous owner about their maintenance habits. Of course, you have to take what they say with a grain of salt. Its human nature to make it sound like you did a better job taking care of something than you actually did. But at least you can get an idea.

Questions you can ask:

  • How often did you check the tire pressure?
  • How much weight did you usually carry?
  • Did you ever carry any particularly heavy loads on a long road trip?
  • Did you use tire covers when you stored your RV?
  • Did you often travel at high speeds?

The best way to ask these questions is to preface them with a no-judgment disclosure. Start with something like, “I’m only asking the following to determine when I should replace the tires in the future. There’s no judgment on my part… I just need to know for my own safety.”

For the most honest answers, you should ask these questions after you’ve settled on a price.

Note: Many new RVs sit on the sales lot for a long time. So even new RV tires can be exposed to too much heat and underinflated before even leaving the lot.

Not the way to treat your RV tires © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Best tire tips for storing your RV

Now that you know what factors to consider in determining the realistic life of your tires, I want to leave you with some tire winterization tips.

RV tire tips for short-term and long-term storage

1. Visually inspect the tires before putting them into storage and again when taking the RV out of storage before the tires are back on the road. Look for any irregularities and differences or foreign materials in the tread that should be removed such as stones or other types of debris.

2. Store the RV in a cool, dry place, out of direct sunlight if possible.

3. If storing the RV outdoors place a surface barrier like a thin piece of wood under the tires to separate them from the ground. This will help protect the tires from the elements while stationary over long periods. It also will help them not to sink with the weight of the RV as the ground freezes and thaws.

4. If possible, lift the stored RV off the ground to take the load off the tires and wheels. Jack stands or lightweight trailer axel lift blocks are great for this task.

5. Cover tires to reduce exposure to sunlight and ozone. White coverings will reflect the sun and keep the tires cooler than darker covers. Specially designed tire covers work best for this task but so can white plastic trash bags.

RV tire © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

6. Keep in mind that stored tires can lose air pressure and in two ways:

  • Temperature: No matter the brand, tires can lose ~1.5 percent of air pressure per 10 degrees F with temperature changes. Tires are subject to the Ideal Gas Law which simply means that as the temperature changes, so does air pressure within the tire—in other words, cold air contracts while warm air expands. So, it’s vital to check tire inflation when the tires are cold prior to use and re-inflate tires to their proper pressure as per the placard on the RV (or the original paperwork) before putting them back into service.
  • Sitting static: Tires lose about 3 percent inflation pressure per month while sitting around inflated and not running (at constant temperature). Again, re-inflate the tires to proper pressures before putting them back into use.

Taking the time to prepare your RV before you store it for the winter can help protect your investment for the long haul.

Proper tire maintenance is crucial! Here are a few articles to help and I strongly recommend reading all of them.

I hope all of this information helps keep you safe!

Worth Pondering…

Speed was high

Weather was hot

Tires were thin                                                                                     

X marks the spot

—Burma Shave sign