The Ultimate Guide to RVing Safely This Summer

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There’s nothing quite like traversing the wide, open roads of this vast country in an RV – especially in the warm, sunny days of summer. Every state and region of America offers its own natural wonders and an RV is one of the best ways to do it. But before you hop in and head out, it’s important to be aware of how to travel safely.

1. Know the fauna and flora of the places you’ll be traveling to.
This isn’t necessarily the first thing people think of when they envision camping out in their vehicle, but it’s one of the most important things to know. From scorpions in the Southwest to ticks in the Midwest to copperheads in the South, every part of the country has its own particular wildlife that you should know how to spot, take precautions about, and how to respond in case of a medical emergency.

The same is true of plants. Know how to identify not only poison ivy, but other toxic plants such as pokeberry and deadly nightshade. If you’re traveling with children, make sure they have the information, too. A fun family vacation can become a nightmare if your toddler grandchild mistakenly eats a deadly nightshade berry, for example.

2. Pack a first-aid kit.
You can purchase one online or you can make your own. Whichever method you choose, a first-aid kit is essential for RV safety. After all, you might be camping in a remote area where medical facilities are a long way away and may need to respond to an emergency quickly.

Include in your kit basic essentials such as band-aids, gauze, a thermometer, antibiotic cream, anti-inflammatories, splints, tweezers, insect repellant, and sunscreen protection (the last is especially important in summer!). You might also need to pack prescription medication, EpiPens, and snake bite kits, depending on your own medical needs or those you’re traveling with.

Make sure you know how to use and administer everything in your kit. Also check before beginning every trip to make sure nothing is expired or otherwise in need of replacement. Store it in a dry, easily accessible place but out of reach of young children, just as you would with medical supplies at home.

3. Check your RV in advance of the trip.
Each and every time you set out from home, you should check your vehicle for any issues and/or have a mechanic make sure that everything is in working order. There’s few things more ruinous to a vacation than to have problems with the vehicle pop up during your journey – especially if it’s something that was preventable with a routine checkup and maintenance.

You’ll also want to make sure you have everything gone over enough ahead of time so that you can get any issues fixed without needing to delay your trip and cut into your vacation time. If you’re not sure what needs to be checked when, consult your owner’s manual to get an estimate of the recommended intervals for service and checkups.

4. Keep things on an even keel with a level and leveling blocks.
One thing you might not be aware of – especially if you’re a new RV owner – is that the refrigerator in your vehicle will only operate properly when stationary if the vehicle is level. In fact, if you’re stationary and the vehicle isn’t even, you run the potential risk of a fire due to how it impacts the distribution of fluids in the appliance.

Likewise, an uneven vehicle can cause your tank readings to be off – reporting either that there’s more than there actually is or that there’s less than is physically present. This in turn could result in the tank not being fully drained even if you think it is.

If your RV isn’t level, that can also lead to costly repairs over time because your cabinets and drawers will not completely and securely close (including your slideouts) and stress accumulates on the frame. Remember, RVs are designed to be level when they’re not moving, so being uneven means you’re not operating it as intended.

All of this is to say that it’s vital that you include both a level and leveling blocks in your travel kit. The level will allow you to see where your vehicle is even and where it’s in need of straightening by way of a leveling block. Simply relying on the eye test won’t necessarily tell you when the vehicle is even – a level is the only way to guarantee that everything is accurately event.

5. Know the dimensions of your vehicle.
It’s important to know exactly how wide, long, and tall your vehicle is. The reason – it affects where you can go. One of the most common types of RV accidents involve hitting an overhang when the vehicle is too tall to safely clear. So memorize the dimensions and keep the measurements up front in a clearly visible space in case someone other than you is driving.

6. Adjust your driving habits.
Driving something as massive as an RV means you need to approach it differently from your car or even a van. The first thing to keep in mind – your following distance, reaction time, etc. should be considered 20% more than what you’re used to as a general rule of thumb.

Secondly, cornering has some special best practices. Approach the turn slowly, keep your direction the same as the one you’re going in (i.e. don’t start by turning in the opposite direction), and don’t straighten until you’ve fully completed the turn and the back end of your RV is entirely out of the intersection.

Finally, signal you’re going to turn or change lanes at least 50 feet before beginning to make the move. Remember, you have a large vehicle that is going to be slower to move because of its size. Signaling your intentions (literally) well enough in advance can help prevent accidents with other motorists.

7. Stay safe by ensuring cell phone connectivity, or cellular WiFi to work (if needed) on the road.
One of the great things about the United States are the long stretches of land without the noise and congestion of the cities. It’s one of the reasons why people go RVing – to get away from it all. But with that can come spotty service – which makes contacting people or uploading the fantastic photos you took that day difficult, if not outright impossible.

Fortunately, here at Surecall, we have a signal booster that’s specifically designed for RVs, trailers, and campers: the Fusion2Go 3.0 RV. It works with all North American cell service providers and utilizes 2XP technology so that you can use your devices even in the most distant areas.

8. Get to your camping area before dark.
Remember the earlier tip about making sure your RV is properly and accurately level? That’s pretty hard to do in the dark, even with portable light sources such as a flashlight or your cellphone. That’s just one of the reasons why you want to check into your campsite before darkness falls.

It’s also much easier to see where your stop is when it’s still light out – particularly if you’re in a large campground with a lot of parking space numbers.

Stopping for the night before sunset also reduces the probability of getting into an accident. Darkness limits visibility for one, and for two, by getting in earlier than you might in your standard car, you limit driver fatigue (another leading cause of motor vehicle accidents). While you could theoretically drive 500-600 miles a day (depending on the terrain – mountainous areas will limit your max mileage), the standard wisdom is to limit yourself to 300-400 miles a day for maximum safety.

And by getting in earlier, you have some daylight to enjoy the scenery around you after you set up camp.

Following these eight guidelines will help ensure you and your family have the safest, most enjoyable RV experience possible. Enjoy the travel this summer, and create those precious memories that will last a lifetime.

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