Safety is always a big concern when travelling with children and it can be even more so when it comes to RVing. RVs are large heavy vehicles, which we use to go to unfamiliar places where we usually expect to unwind and have a good time. The combination of the size of the RV and the feelings of home that come with it can provide a false sense of security while traveling. This can be compounded by a laid back vacation attitude. To travel safely by RV with kids it is important to have a plan established before you set out on your trip. Start out by planning to travel during ideal weather and then plan it around your family’s hobbies and interests. For a safe and enjoyable trip, make sure some of these things are part of your plan.
Just as you should have a plan for safety in your sticks and bricks home, you should have one for your RV also. RV fires do happen and because of the small space of an RV, it is critical that everyone act quickly to escape. Each of the kids should know the sounds of the smoke detectors and the LP detector in your rig and what to do when they hear them. The should also know exactly which windows in your RV act as fire escapes and how to operate them. Show them how they work and have them practice so you can see if they are capable of escaping. If they cannot, create a plan how you will get the kids out and make sure each one knows what to do.
All RVs should have at least one properly charged and inspected fire extinguisher on board. Everyone should know how to use it. More importantly, teach the children to get out of the RV, get help, and don’t try to put fires out. Once they are safe, it is the adult’s responsibility to save your rig
Every RV should be equipped with at least a basic first aid kit. If you are renting an RV for your trip, be sure to bring a family first aid kit. Consider adding additional products for sun burn and insect bites or stings. Like fire safety, first aid should be a family affair. Everyone who is old enough should be trained in the various items in your kit. Taking a couple afternoons as a family to do a first aid and/or CPR course can be a great growth experience that teaches everyone skills that can save a life.
Research and Plan Ahead
Many of us forget that as we travel, there can be major safety differences between areas that we are familiar with and our destination. Before you travel, do some research on any dangerous wildlife that is native to the areas you plan to visit. While you should teach your kids that all wildlife is dangerous, they may not have learned that cute furry little caterpillars can make them very sick just by touching them. This is almost certainly the case if no such critters live near your home. There are many critters that are relatively harmless in one part of the country that can be very dangerous in other parts. For example, if you are from the north and head south you should know how to spot fire ants. Be aware of the quarantine area as shown on the USDA map below to help prevent the spread of these fierce insects. When you know the precautions, you can minimize the possibility of having a negative interaction with the local wildlife.
This is also true for wild animals in parks. While the bison or elk in Yellowstone may seem tame and friendly wild animals can seriously injure, if not kill, you. Even ground squirrels are major causes of serious injury in places like Glacier national park. It isn’t a good idea to try to take selfies and get close to the animals.
Safety issues in new places are not limited to wildlife. If you visit the southern California, you should know and teach your kids earthquake safety. If you travel through the south central US plains, tornado and severe storm preparedness can be important. You and your kids should know where the storm shelters in your park are located and what do if there is large hail, lightning and strong winds.
Don’t assume anything is safe
The RV park or campground you are in is filled with many people just like you so it is easy to assume it must be safe. Like most other places, RV parks and campgrounds have great people but they can also harbor some seedy characters that you and your kids should avoid. Know your park’s rules about kids being on their own and follow them. Don’t let younger kids out of your sight and always make sure the older kids travel in groups. Set boundaries on where they can go, the amount of time they are allowed to be gone, and always provide them with a way to communicate with you should they need to. Cell phones are okay, but a good set of walkie talkies is better. These allow them to quickly call you when needed without having to go through pass screens, dial phone numbers or open apps. They also work in remote areas where cell service may not be reliable.
Proper advance planning will allow you to enjoy your RV adventures with children of all ages. While there might be some unique safety challenges on whatever road your family adventure follows, it will always lead to memories that will last a lifetime. If these safety tips are put in place before you go, the memories will all be good ones.
These safety tips were provided by our awesome friends over at Outdoorsy, who connect RV owners with other campers like them who want to experience RVing without ownership.
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