There are two kinds of vehicle emergencies—one type with the RV and the other with your car. For RV emergencies, there are two types that are considered really bad—one is a fire in the RV and the other is being in an accident. We realize there are others, too, such as a blowout on a tire. Depending on the severity of the accident, either emergency will instantly stop you from continuing your lifestyle. The big problem is especially if you are fulltiming, you can’t just leave your RV behind and go on without it. Whereas, after a car accident, you could be driving a rental car in a few hours.
In case of an RV accident, you have to consider the security of your personal stuff if the RV is not livable and possibly cannot be secured (locked)—suppose the windshield has popped out in an accident. If you go spend the night in a hotel room, how do you secure your stuff (again, if needed, depending on the severity of the accident)? While this cannot be answered here, it is something to occasionally think about and be aware of. Unexpected things do happen.
An RV Fire…
A fire in an RV is usually a disaster due to several reasons…
- RVs are fast-burning and unless you were parked by the firehouse, the fire department would rarely be able to get to your location in time to save your stuff or the RV.
- You likely carry that dinky fire extinguisher mounted by the manufacturer next to the door in the RV. It may help in a very small fire if you are sitting close to it, know how to use it, and do so immediately. Otherwise, it is just about useless. (The old RV joke is that they mount it by the door so you can grab it on the way out and at least you look like you were doing something!)
- You probably have no “fire plan” for evacuation of the RV should something happen.
- You may not have time to unhook your other vehicle whether you are towing it or towing with it.
- If a fire occurs, you will likely be in a strange place.
Should a fire take place while you are in bed or your escape from the coach through the exit door is blocked. I recommend you carry an escape ladder in case you have to go out the emergency escape windows (the ones with the ugly red handles). Using these handles will cause the whole window to swing out and open fully so there is room for you to get out without trying to crawl through some tiny half-window. That’s the good news. The bad news is that it is a long way down to the ground so the fall will be brief, fast, and you will have a sudden stop. Likely, it’s going to hurt!
The answer… an “escape ladder.” These flexible, foldable ladders were originally designed for second-story bedrooms and apartments. They hang over the windowsill and literally unroll down the side of the house, apartment building, or in our case, the RV—after you open the emergency escape window.
The ladders have a type of modified “grappling hook” and simply hang over the opened window. They are not permanently installed and roll or fold into a small “package” ideal in an RV. Store it next to the bed—not in one of the compartments underneath! Some models roll up to about the size of a shoebox but will hold 1,000 pounds! You can spend less than $100.00 and sleep safer knowing you have an escape route.
RV fire information is available from Mac McCoy (aka “Mac the Fire Guy”). He specializes in educating RVers about RV fires. And you can learn about RV fires, fire extinguisher maintenance and operation, and get those checklists, too. Also, attend his seminars at various rallies and shows. I guarantee you will learn things that may save you or someone’s life.
You can certainly have an emergency breakdown with your “toad” (tow car) or your truck (or other vehicle) used for towing your RV, or the RV itself. Traditional vehicles—cars, trucks, SUVs, etc.—will need to be serviced regularly (grease and oil) and they occasionally break down. Among new RVers driving a motorhome and towing a vehicle, there is an occasional rumor that since the car’s engine is not actually running while being towed, you can go longer without servicing it. Not so.
While it is true that the engine is not running, on some vehicles, “everything” underneath is moving—i.e., wheels are turning, axle, drive shaft, gears in the transmission, etc. are turning when the vehicle is being towed. Therefore, it is recommended that you continue to follow the manufacturer’s mileage recommendation for servicing. The odometer on some vehicles will not work when towing—i.e., no miles are added. If this is the case with your tow vehicle, simply add the driving miles (from the vehicle’s odometer) to the towed miles (from the RV’s odometer) to determine when servicing should be scheduled on that tow car. After all, it has actually rolled that total number of miles (sum total of both vehicles).
Most vehicle dealers are connected online nationwide with warranty and repair information about your vehicle. We drove a Saturn Vue for four years and any time we stopped for service, dealers throughout the USA and Canada were all sharing information about our car.
Emergency Road Service Insurance
For a bit more than $100.00 per year, one common type of special RV insurance is called “Emergency Road Service.” It is designed to provide financial assistance, technicians, or professional help for minor emergencies while you are on a trip. I highly recommend this, have carried it on every RV I’ve owned, and have used it when needed. Refer to the article entitled, “Emergency Road Service.”