Personal safety isn't usually the first thing we think about when heading out on an RV trip. Often, we focus on finding the best route to drive, the nicest campgrounds to stay at and whether or not we are bringing enough food. The truth is, safety is usually low on an RVer
s list of preparations. Keeping us safe along with our belongings and our fellow travelers, however, is an important consideration, especially if you plan to be out on the road for a long time. As an RVer, you are sure to stay in a variety of unfamiliar places, and it's important to have a plan.
Camping and traveling are traditionally safe pursuits, and chances are you won't need to protect yourself while RVing. Still, as they say, it is better to be safe than sorry. Proper preparation brings a certain sense of confidence and security when you know that your safety and belongings are protected while out on the road. Let's consider the following products and precautions, which can keep us safe as we journey out into the great big world.
Protecting Your Valuables
Believe it or not, an RV can be a big target for theft when you're traveling. These rigs aren't exactly the most secure vehicles around and it's easy to tell if they are vacant. Potential thieves can easily stake out a rig in a campground or a parking lot to rob you of your stuff. Remember, recreational vehicles are often filled with electronics and other goodies you don't want to share. Your first step is to be sure your RV insurance policy covers the items you carry in your rig. Take some time to access what you are carrying with you and the overall replacement value. If the worst should happen and your valuables were stolen, make sure your policy gives you the protection you desire.
Before leaving on the next trip, here are the security measures I would suggest to help you feel secure.
Safes. The most obvious choice to protect valuables from theft or damage is a safe. These come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and no matter what type of RV you have, there is a safe box for you. Consider the following when choosing a safe for your rig.
Fingerprint Scan - Many safe's open off a swipe of your fingerprint. This technology is super cool when it works. Be sure to read the reviews since this is a feature that often fails to open consistently!
Lock Code - The lock code consists of a set of numbers that is punched into the door of the safe to open it. Think about your ability when under pressure. If remembering a series of numbers is easy for you, then this might be the best safe for you.
Lock and Key - A traditional lock with a key is the easiest to open in a hurry as long as you can find the key! Be sure to keep a key on both your keyring and hidden somewhere near the safe for quick access.
Dial - The old fashion combination safe with a rotating dial is still available, but again, be sure you can get into it in an emergency. Usually, a rotating dial takes concentration, something you may not have in a crisis.
RV Safes - These safes are compact and secure, and they are specifically designed for the tiny confines of the average recreational vehicle. Your choices range from broad and flat to square in shape. These units provide excellent security and can be bolted to the floor or walls of the RV to keep them stable when traveling.
Floor Safe - These stealth little safes not only keep things locked up, but they can be hidden from view, which provides a second layer of security. BEWARE: You will have to cut a hole in the floor of the RV or closet, and bolt this form of safe into place. In most cases, this is a job for a professional. Anytime you cut a hole in an RV, you want to make sure it's done right.
Briefcase and File Safe - These mobile safes are relatively lightweight. Sure, they aren't the most secure in the world, but they are easy to grab and take with you, and they provide protection from both flood and fire.
Lock Boxes A lock box is a small, sturdy metal contraption that is ideal for smaller valuables like electronics or money. They are tough like a safe, but they are also mobile. In an emergency, they are easy to grab and take with you. Most are opened with a key or a programmable combination and some come with steel cables where you can tether them to keep them secure.
Hidden Compartments. If you prefer to use a security method on the sneakier side, then take some time looking around your RV. Items like cash, passports and jewelry can be stowed in out of the way places. Ask yourself: What cabinet has a false bottom? Which molding is removable? Is there dead space behind a drawer? Most rigs are filled with secret hiding places; the key is not forgetting where you put things!
Another hidden option is a stash container. Stash containers are disguised as everyday items like hairbrushes, soda cans, candles, shaving cream and even underwear! These small containers can hide in plain site and usually offer a screw top, false bottom or hidden zipper where you can stash small valuables. These containers are pretty secure since most thieves won't think to check the items when they see them.
Protecting Your Safety
Personal safety should always be first and foremost. You and your traveling partners are more important than your valuables, and there are a range of lethal and non-lethal options for protections. Chances are you'll never have to use any of these defense methods, but it's best to be prepared should the worst occur. Remember, you are responsible for knowing the rules and laws in the area you are visiting. Great care and responsibility should always be taken when any of the following items are brought on your trips.
Lethal Weapons. A large percentage of RVers carry a firearm with then when they travel, so it is not unusual to have a weapon with you on the road. Guns can be incredibly dangerous if handled improperly. You must become familiar with your weapon and if you decide to bring a gun with you, you must be aware of a few things before hitting the road:
What Kind Of Weapon - Most states allow rifles and shotguns to be carried without many restrictions, but handguns and assault weapons are another story. Decide what you want your weapon for and how much room you will have for it in your vehicle. From there, you can decide which weapon best suits your personal situation.
Learn State Gun Laws - Gun laws vary widely from state to state. Some states are very friendly, and others have a lot of restrictions. Learn the laws of each state that you will be passing through, as well as the states in which you will be staying to avoid any problems.
Avoid Certain Areas - No matter what state you happen to be in, there are certain areas outside your RV that guns are never allowed. These include churches, hospitals, political gatherings, amusement parks, federal buildings and a handful of other places.
Get Necessary Permits and Licenses - If you plan on keeping your weapon close at hand or on your person, chances are you will need a concealed carry permit. Check with your home state to find out what you'll need to get this permit. It may help you down the road.
Learn How To Use Your Weapon - The most important thing you can do when owning a gun is to learn to use, load, unload, shoot and store your weapon safely. Take classes on gun safety and make sure everyone that's along for the ride knows how to use the weapon.
Non-Lethal Weapons. If a firearm seems too dangerous an option for you, then you may be interested in non-lethal options. These will render any assailants or thieves immobile giving you time to either subdue them or run and get help.
Taser - This weapon can be used from up to 15 feet away and is a great defense against an attacker that is brandishing a weapon. A Taser shoots two probes into the attacker delivering an initial shock for seven seconds with additional shockwaves coming every second-and-a-half after that, causing the attacker lots of pain. This method of defense can effectively neutralize the assailant for a period, enabling you to get away. Remember, this is a dangerous weapon, and it's important to know exactly how and when to use it.
Mace/Pepper Spray - This simple defense spray is effective from about six to eight feet away, and its effectiveness can vary. First off, if an attacker sees that you're about to spray them, they can move or protect their eyes. Also, if you're using it in the tight confines of a recreational vehicle, everyone inside may end up feeling the painful effects of the spray. If used effectively,however, the attacker will be rendered pretty much harmless for the next 20-30 minutes. Again, it's important to know when and where you would plan to use this form of defense.
Stun Gun - A stun gun is like a taser, only it relies on electricity to subdue an attacker; however, you must get very close to the person in order to physically touch them with the weapon. A stun gun is not meant to cause pain. Instead, it will leave an attacker unable to move their muscles for several minutes.
Self-Defense classes will help your mind and body have the confidence you need to think clearly in an attack. If you choose not to carry any form of a weapon when traveling, a self-defense class is essential.
If you haven't taken a class and an attacker enters your RV, here are a few things to remember to stay out of harm's way:
Attack Sensitive Areas - Attacks on the eyes, nose, neck, knees and mid-section tend to be the most effective. Depending on how far away you are from an attacker, use any body part or item at your disposal to help subdue them.
Use Anything You Can Find - Use whatever you can get your hands on if someone is breaking into your RV. You may even want to keep objects like a flashlight or a baseball bat handy just in case you need to protect yourself from an invasion. Single women might consider a retractable billy club which can be stowed just about anywhere.
Use All Parts of the Body - Use your elbows, knees, head or anything else that will get the job done. Even if you're unable to injure an assailant, at least you may be able to stun them just long enough to be able to escape the vehicle and run for safety and help.
Surveillance Is A Great Option
Installing surveillance in your RV can be used either in tandem with a weapon or in place of weapons as a preventive measure to try to avoid conflict before it happens. There are a few options out there that can be installed either inside or outside your vehicle. Most of these are available online. Be sure to check RV forum threads for discussions on brands that travelers like best.
Wi-Fi Security Camera- This handy little device is installed above your RV door and will keep a watchful eye on any suspicious activity going on outside the vehicle. These cameras have a few unique features that make them indispensable for the RV enthusiast: many offer night vision capabilities, and they can send video footage to your mobile device. This feature allows you to check in even when you're not around.
Dash Cam - This small camera can be placed on your RV's dash and will capture everything going on in front of your vehicle. There's also a microphone on many models that will record any activity going on inside should a thief successfully break into the RV.
Security System - These are just like the security system you may have set up in your home that goes off whenever someone breaks in. Sensors detect when a door or window is breached, and an alarm will go off should someone break in.
Tips on Staying Safe in Your RV
While defense products are essential to safe travel, you may also want to consider these precautions.
Install New Locks - Installing new, stronger locks onto the doors of your RV will help keep people out. Many RV storage compartments have the same locks and keys, so by changing the locks, you can make it that much harder for an intruder to break in. A robber with a master key can open a variety of RV's without trouble. Don't let this happen to you. Install your own locks and leave that worry behind.
Stow Certain Items or Leave Them at Home - Keeping more expensive items out of sight might convince a potential thief to move on to the next vehicle to rob. Put jewelry, cash, electronics and any other small, expensive items into a safe or lock box, or if possible, avoid bringing them on your trip, to begin with.
Keep the Lights On - Keeping the lights on both inside and outside your RV when you leave for extended periods, may dissuade potential thieves from dropping in. Also, leaving a radio or television on may make it sound like someone is still relaxing inside.
Talk to Your Neighbors - RVing tends to attract friendly and neighborly people. When you set up camp at a campsite, make a point to speak to your neighbors, and they'll probably take it upon themselves to keep an eye on your RV when you're away as long as you do the same. On the flip side, don't stay in a campground or at a park where you feel unsafe around the other guests. The great thing about RV's is they move, so don't be afraid to use that feature. If you hear guests talking about stolen property in the park, keep traveling down the road. There is no reason to stay in an unsafe area when you may be fine just down the road.
There are many options for keeping everyone and everything safe while out exploring in your recreational vehicle. Some methods are more drastic than others, and all must be done responsibly and as safely as possible. When carried out effectively, these RV safety essentials should both keep intruders at bay, and everyone free from harm should an intruder enter the vehicle. Remember that all RVers are part of the same tribe and everyone should look out for each other. Don't be afraid to ask your neighbor to keep an eye out and make sure to return the favor.