Dec 132013

I am a big advocate for safety in the RV lifestyle and in everything we do. Sometimes I probably err on the side of caution, but so far I haven’t wrecked our motorhome and it hasn’t burned down with us in it, so I guess my method is working out.

In the course of a normal week I get a number of e-mail from RVers and wannabes asking me about a lot of things, including what options I think they should purchase. Among the things I always tell people they should invest in are good smoke alarms and CO detectors, the proper fire extinguishers, an Electrical Management System (EMS), a supplemental braking system for towed cars, and RV driving lessons. And I can’t tell you how many people think some or all of those items are a waste of money. I’ve always been baffled by that train of thought.

Among my other activities in life I was a firearms instructor in the military and also as a civilian. Over the years I’ve had many people ask me if a quality self-defense firearm is really worth the extra cost over a cheaper make and model. I always ask them, "I don’t know, how much is your life worth?" It’s kind of the same thing here. Is your life and the lives of your passengers worth the investment in a supplemental braking system, or quality fire extinguishers, or spending a day and a little bit of money learning how to be a good RV driver? Only you can answer that question. I don’t know you or your family. But I know what mine is worth.

My rig came with smoke detectors. Why would I want to replace them if they work?” Some, not all, RV manufacturers put top quality detectors in their products, and some cut corners anywhere they can. Yes, the detectors they install may meet minimum standards. Are you willing to bet your life on the guy who was the lowest bidder?

My RV has a fire extinguisher mounted right by the front door.” Yes, and that dinky little thing won’t have much more effect than spitting on an RV fire. We have a dozen quality foam fire extinguishers from Mac McCoy, the RV industry’s acknowledged fire safety expert. These include extinguishers in our bedroom, kitchen, by the door, in the front bay, in our Ford Explorer, as well as fire suppression units in our refrigerator and engine compartments. Is that overkill? Have you ever seen an RV fire? I have, and they are an ugly thing.

Why do I need an EMS? Don’t campground power outlets have to be up to code?” I don’t know what the local codes may be, but judging by the number of bad power pedestals we’ve encountered in our time on the road, I’m sure a lot don’t meet the standards. I have seen a lot of RVs damaged by both high and low voltage, and the cost or replacing things like TVs, microwave ovens, and air conditioners, plus the possibility of those appliances shorting out and starting a fire, is a lot more than the investment in an EMS system.

That big heavy motorhome of mine will stop that little old car behind me!” I used to think that too, until I had to make a panic stop one day after somebody ran a red light in front of us. We were in an MCI bus conversion and the Toyota pickup we were towing ended up sitting on top the motorcycle rack mounted on the back of the bus. We’ve also known at least two RVers whose tow cars became disconnected from their tow bars and went rolling down the highway and off the road all by themselves.

I’ve been driving for 50 years. Why do I need RV driving lessons?” Even a Class C motorhome is a lot bigger and heavier than most passenger cars and pickup trucks. They take up more space in the road, they need more room to turn, stop, and maneuver. It takes an entirely new skill set to safely drive one. Not only should the primary driver take a driving course, but also the spouse or partner should know how to get the rig to a safe place in case the regular driver becomes sick or is incapacitated.

Yes, an RV is a big investment, and it does cost even more money for the safety upgrades I’ve talked about today. Only you can decided is it’s a worthwhile investment. How much is your life worth?

The last time I checked, over 160 people had entered this week’s Free Drawing, and it’s a good one! In fact, it’s our biggest prize ever. John and Kathy Huggins of the Living the RV Dream podcast are donating one of their current Christmas Specials, which includes all of their current podcasts of Living the RV Dream as well as the Radio Days podcasts (257 in all) as well as PDF copies of their books So, You Want to be an RVer, So, You Want to be a Workamper, and their guide How to Survive an RV Show…and Make it a Great Experience, all on an 8GB flash drive. John and Kathy usually sell just the podcasts, without the books, for $65. All you have to do to enter is click this Free Drawing link and enter your name in the comments section below. Only one entry per person per drawing please! The winner will be chosen at random on Sunday evening.

Thought For The Day – On the internet you can be anything you want. So why do so many people choose to be stupid?

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Nick Russell

World-Famous, New York Times Best Selling Author, and All-Around Nice Guy!

  4 Responses to “How Much Is Your Life Worth?”

  1. Nick,

    Our experience with bad electrical pedestals was probably close to 20 percent. We had an EMS on board when we left the dealership with our used RV. How can someone put a price of peace of mind and safety? Good blog and one that is well worth repeating from time to time.

  2. Nick, this is yet another of your many good commentaries that I’ve saved for a later reference.

    My sweet old dad always said, “It’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.” That’s certainly applicable to anything having to do with my family’s safety. Taking chances that things won’t go south in a heartbeat, just to save a buck here and there, isn’t the way I want to live, in or out of an RV.

    Thank you for all the good you do in trying to help us RVers stay safe.

  3. You also forgot to mention a good tire monitor system well. Can never beat having enough redundancy to CYA (cover your a__) Great post as always.

  4. All I can hear in my head is Desi Arnaz shouting, “Trailer brakes!” LOL

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