Fuel, tires, towing, RV weights, electrical systems…. In the past, many motorhome owners had to attend multiple seminars or buy several books to obtain authoritative information about these subjects. Not anymore.
Now these and many more RV safety-related topics are covered in one standardized source of industry-approved information. It’s called the RV Safety Training program and it’s available at FMCAStore.com, from the Accessories page.
The program, under development for two years, was produced by the RV Safety Education Foundation (RVSEF), a nonprofit safety education organization. FMCA’s Education Committee is among the organizations, companies and individuals involved in creating the program.
RV Safety Training consists of nine easy-to-read 20-page manuals and a supplementary 120-minute safety instruction video (VHS). Designed for everyone who travels in an RV, the program emphasizes safety awareness and emergency preparedness.
The manuals contain text, photos and drawings to plainly illustrate safety principles. “The handbooks were written to be easily understood by new RVers and be of value to experienced RVers,” said John Anderson, RVSEF executive director.
Content on certain pages refers readers to the video for related topics or expanded information. The video, which includes on-camera and voice-over narration, covers all nine manual topics
RVSEF encourages RVers to watch the video and then read and discuss one manual at a time before moving on to the next. “Discussing safety issues while traveling in your RV will enhance the experience and educational value,” Anderson said. “Everyone in the RV is affected by safety.”
The RV Safety Training package costs $29.95 for FMCA members and $39.95 for non-members, plus shipping and handling. In addition to www.fmcastore.com, orders are taken by phone; call (800) 543-3622 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern time and ask for the FMCA Store.
The manuals, numbered one to nine, come in a durable plastic carrying case with a pocket for the videotape. The first page of each booklet presents overviews and objectives. “Each book is not a complete dissertation on the subject,” Anderson said. “It is only the safety aspect on that subject.”
The last page of each manual is a 10-question safety training quiz. Here are the manual titles and sample topics addressed in each:
Weight Safety: weight terminology, weighing methods, RVIA weight label, weight distribution when loading, weight considerations when purchasing an RV
Tire Safety: maintenance, load range, load carrying ability, inflation guidelines, pressure monitoring. The Tire Safety portion of the video includes Michelin’s “Critical Factor” tape, which stages tire blowouts to show how to control the RV in air-loss situation.
Driving Safety: anti-lock brakes, slide prevention, sharing the road safely, preventive maintenance checkpoints. Video footage on this topic talks about driving practice, driving and aging, and who should learn to drive.
Towing Safety: selecting a towed vehicle, types of tow bars, braking systems, weight issues
Fire Safety: the causes of RV fires, types of extinguishers, developing a customized plan for emergencies
Propane Safety: how propane works, LP tank design, leak detection, driving with propane
Motor Fuels: refueling, proper storage, fuel spills, fuel additives, gas and diesel fuel basics, how fuels are made
Electrical: generators, battery safety, plugging into shore power, 120-volt AC and 12-Volt DC systems
Personal Safety: first aid, severe weather, desert travel, self-defense tactics
Anderson encourages RVing families to set aside a time to focus on the safety training, without interruption, and learn how to apply it to their specific RV. "Don’t rush through the material," he said. "The information learned could be life saving."
Test your RV safety knowledge
Each of the nine RV Safety Training manuals contains a 10-question safety quiz. Here are nine sample questions, with answers below.
1. Should the amount of water onboard be considered when determining the overall weight of an RV?
2. Does vehicle speed affect the load carrying capacity of your tires?
3. When using an anti-lock braking system (ABS), is it recommended to “pump” the brakes?
4. When towing a vehicle behind a motorhome, why must you drive with greater care?
5. Are the fire extinguishers furnished in motorhomes sufficient to put out all fires?
6. What are methods for detecting a propane leak?
7. What is the only additive recommended for gasoline?
8. Where can you have your RV weighed by individual wheel position?
9. What should you do if you’re inside your motorhome when a “tornado warning” has been issued?
1. Yes. The total weight includes the driver, passengers, cargo, fuels and water . A motorhome’s total weight should not exceed the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) -- the maximum loaded weight of the vehicle as set by the chassis manufacturer.
2. Yes. Motorhome tires driven over 65 mph tend to lose carrying capacity. Tires driven faster than the tire manufacturer’s speed ratings can cause excessive flex and internal heat in the tires. This decreases carrying capacity and can lead to tire failure. Slower speeds increase carrying capacity, but speeds below 30 mph require an increase in inflation pressure.
3. No. An anti-lock braking system works only when the brakes are applied with continuous pressure. Many drivers instinctively pump their brakes, which defeats the ABS and can actually create braking problems.
4. A towed vehicle adds to the overall length traveling down the road. The additional vehicle reduces acceleration, increases stopping distance and creates a greater turning radius. Also, to compensate for the added length, passing other vehicles requires extra caution.
5. No. The type of fire extinguisher used must be appropriate for the type of fire you are fighting (wood, flammable liquid, electrical wiring, etc.)
6. Aftermarket leak detectors are available and must be installed near the floor of the RV, because propane is heavier than air and will settle in the lowest points of the vehicle. Another type of leak detector, a manometer, measures the pressure in the LP-gas line and indicates if there has been a pressure drop.
7. Aftermarket fuel additives are seldom required and are sometimes restricted by engine manufacturers. Consult your owners manual for guidelines. If storing a motorhome for an extended time, a fuel stabilizer is recommended to reduce gum from forming, prevent microbial growth and inhibit corrosion.
8. Typical certified scales are designed to provide weight information about axle or overall weights. Individual wheel weighing, which RVSEF recommends, is offered by many RV clubs. Some RV dealers also offer this service at rallies and special events. The key is to keep the vehicle level throughout the weighing process. The importance of weighing by wheel position is covered in safety manual #1.
9. Park the motorhome as quickly and as safely as possible, out of the traffic lanes. Get out and seek shelter in a sturdy building. Avoid parking the coach under bridges. This can create a deadly traffic hazard while offering little protection from flying debris.