While RVing can be an incredibly exhilarating experience, your adventure can quickly turn into a nightmare. Crime is on the rise as also human trafficking everywhere, even in places you’d least expect it. But, by arming yourself with these RV safety tips and personal safety precautions, you can live your dream with less worry.
Unfortunately, crime doesn’t discriminate no matter how you travel. Even crime against those RVing is up due to the influx of RV sales. Which is why your family’s personal safety on the road and anywhere you camp or park should be your top priority.
But also, protecting your RV from theft and vandalism is a close second. Whether you’re boondocking or camping in a remote location or even a populated RV park or campground, you always need to be proactive of your safety.
To help prepare you for the road, we’ve prepared a crime prevention and personal protection guide that will provide insight even before getting behind the wheel.
So, let’s get to the nitty gritty and sift through this helpful RV Safety Tips guide to keeping you, your family and your RV safe and secure.
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Lifesaving RV Safety Tips to Keep You Safe on the Road
This article is not an intent to frighten away prospective or sway new RV travelers from hitting the road. It’s simply to bring awareness to RV safety and how to prevent crime from happening to you.
From meeting strangers who give off that uneasy vibe to keeping your family safe from harm, I’ll show you ways to recognize potential unsafe situations. We’ll also present how to mitigate criminal activity that may otherwise take you down the wrong road. (Have you seen that movie “Wrong Turn”?)
Crime Deterrents and Prevention Tips
Alert family and friends of your plans and locations
It’s always a good idea to let your family and/or friends know where you’re headed, the route you’re taking and ETA (estimated time of arrival).
But also, check in with them along the way, even so much as a simple text letting them know of your whereabouts, how your trip is going and when you’ve arrived at your destinations.
In our case, we always let our son know our travel plans even though he may be hundreds or thousands of miles of away from our destination.
One of our RV safety tips is once we get to our campsite or parking spot, we’ll drop a pin and text our location to him.
If he doesn’t hear from us, he checks to make sure we’re okay. We admit, sometimes we get so excited about our new destination that we forget to let him know.
But that’s no excuse for your loved ones back home who are waiting for your check-in.
Be Vigilant and Aware of Your Surroundings
Wherever you go, always be cognizant and aware of your surroundings. This includes wherever you’re parked; at a campground, fuel station, or stopping for lunch along the road, etc.
It’s always a good practice to never have your faces buried in your phones, looking down or digging for things in our bags while walking to and from your vehicles. Be on the lookout for things that look odd or out of place.
Carefully scan your location. Take note of things that don’t look normal or make you feel off or weird. We have a rule we live by. If just one of us doesn’t feel comfortable in any given location, we don’t stay.
In the event that you have to park at a rest stop or sketchy area, always use the buddy system. Never walk alone in the dark if you can avoid it. Keep your keys in your hand with your key fob and/or personal alarm readily available.
Always look for an out
Anyone you encounter along your route to the restroom, store or fuel station, always make eye contact with them. That let’s them know you’ve seen and identified them. Try to remember as many permanent physical features such as facial features, scars or tattoos, hair color, height and weight, etc.
Also, get a visual snapshot of what they’re wearing. In the event that you need to report to the authorities, a good description will help in their investigation.
If you have that gut feeling or just don’t feel comfortable, look for an out, head to a crowded area and leave immediately.
Or, if something just doesn’t feel right as you’re walking towards your RV or vehicle, pretend you’ve forgotten something and walk back to the store or crowded area quickly. And of course, definitely dial 911 to report what you saw.
Know your location
Another of our RV safety tips is after checking into your campsite, write the campground name, address and campsite number on a small white board near your door or refrigerator. Also, keep your campground paperwork within easy reach. It will typically list their address and emergency contacts.
Also, it’s a good idea to check in with a close contact of where you’re staying. Share your location with close family members throughout your journey using one of these best location and GPS tracking apps.
By all means though, share your travel plans and whereabouts with your closest family members but do it privately via private messaging or phone call.
Never post your current location on social media
I totally get that you want to share your cool adventures and amazing places you are at. But, be cautious about giving your exact location and time.
Using the check in feature on social media just lets people know when you’re away from your RV.
If you want to post a photo of your RV at your campsite or in a certain location, refrain from posting the campground name and town you’re currently located.
In other words, keep your social media shares vague. Wait until after you leave the area to share those beautiful views online.
Case in point; we learned a valuable lesson on posting current locations and times on social media. We thought we were doing right, however, it had a negative affect.
A few years ago, we shared a photo of our campsite on Facebook and Instagram with the campground name and town. Three hours later, someone who frequents our Facebook page saw our post and decided to come for a visit at 9:30 pm.
We had no idea who they were. Speaking honestly, it was a bit unnerving. While we love and appreciate our followers, it wasn’t our wisest moment. So now, we only post after we’ve left a certain location.
Lastly, we also never post exact itineraries and destinations on social media for all of the reasons we’ve listed above. We may share a general location such as a National Park or city, but never where we are staying. Again, we save the details after our departure.
Now, if you feel you can’t restrain yourself from posting an amazing shot of your RV or camping setup against a beautiful backdrop, at least disable the check in or location services feature on all social media platforms. (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter)
Always Carry Personal Identification
Regardless if you’re boondocking or camping in the backcountry or strolling the RV resort or campground, it’s smart to always have your personal identification on you.
Should you become a victim to a crime, become unconscious or incapacitated, your ID will be an important link of communication to your loved ones or your travel partner(s).
As well, don’t forget to include medical information such as if you’re diabetic, have a pacemaker, certain drug allergies, or other important lifesaving information.
As for your children, we recommend labeling the inside of their clothing with their name, parents’ name and telephone number.
For your littles, consider looping a temporary tag on their belt loop or with a safety pin on the back of their collar with your campground site number. That way, in case they get lost or in trouble, an adult can bring them home to you. This is also a great idea to attach one to your dog or cat should they get lost.
Dress for the RUN, Not for the Sun
Travel days shouldn’t be about making a fashion statement. One of our mantras when we rode motorcycles was ‘dress for the slide, not for the ride’. We’d always dress for potential dangers or consequences.
Though we no longer ride motorcycle, we still stand by the mantra to dress appropriately to help deter criminal acts against us. I know that sounds crazy but it’s worth considering.
For example, on travel days, we wear flat-soled, closed-toe shoes instead of flip flops.
First, it’s dangerous to drive in flip flops. And second, when stopping at rest stops or fuel stations, flip flops and sandals don’t allow for quick escape on foot should we need to.
So, be safe! Dress for the run and not for the sun. Save the flip flops and beach wear for the beach.
Take your smartphone EVERYWHERE
No matter where we go, our cellphones are always on us; whether we’re walking to the restroom or out stretching our legs.
As much as we may not like big brother watching our every move, in times of trouble, your smartphone can be your direct link to getting help.
And, let’s not forget that your cellphone is a communication tool. As simple as falling, getting locked in the bathroom or becoming disoriented, a simple call or text to your travel partner or emergency services could save your life.
Carry your vehicle key fob
Plain and simple, criminals and attackers hate attention; whether it’s bright lights or loud sounds. Similar to the personal alarm mentioned earlier, your vehicle key fob alarm can alert others of trouble or at least gain attention of those nearby.
However, there’s one caveat. it may be a good idea NOT to click your key fob to search for your vehicle. Doing that lets criminals or evil doers know you’re on the way. Thus, you could potentially be setting yourself up for a robbery, attack or worse, abduction.
On another note, if you’re going to be away from your RV, take all of your RV keys with you. This way, should a criminal break into your RV, they can’t drive it away while you’re away or out exploring.
And lastly, keep your key fob on your nightstand or near your bed while you’re sleeping. Should someone try to break into your RV, simply press the car alarm button to scare off perpetrators. Your key fob alarm will attract attention from your neighboring campers.
Carry a Personal Alarm
Again, it’s a good idea to have a personal alarm anytime you’re away from your RV or out for a jog, hike or bike ride.
Even if you have your smartphone on you, a personal alarm could make a difference by fending off a criminal without even throwing a punch or physical confrontation.
But, there are other reasons a personal alarm could save your life. It can scare off threatening wildlife. And if you should fall and can’t get up, someone will be able to hear your alarm and come to your aid.
Big Dog Security
Though we don’t RV travel with dogs, RVing dog owners claim that dogs are a huge crime deterrent. And honestly, I can see their point of view. I mean, who wants to contend with a dog of any size that may have a bite bigger than their bark?
That said, be a responsible pet owner by not allowing your dog bark constantly, it’s just good campground etiquette.
We’ve also read that solo travelers, especially solo female RVers, should keep a large dog bowl with a large dog leash outside their motorhome or camper door. Even a big prong dog collar laying outside of your camper or tent would no doubt, make someone think twice before trying something.
Would those actually prevent a break-in? Who knows. However, they could be an effective crime deterrent seeing that that you may have a big protective dog.
Personal Protection Measures
Now, all of those I mentioned about above are great personal safety tips to help keep attackers away from you and criminals away from your property.
However, should you be the victim of physical confrontation, you should be prepared to defend yourself and/or your family.
There’s a rabid myth circling the RV community regarding wasp spray being suggested to deter or fend off attackers.
Unfortunately, that’s exactly what it is, a myth. There’s no verifiable evidence or real proof that it’s effective to be used as personal protection.
The active ingredients in most wasp sprays contain pyrethrins or pyrethroids. This is derived from the chrysanthemum plant and affects the nervous system. It’s affect on a humans would not be rapid.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Household Products Database shows that it causes eye irritation that can be treated by flushing with water.
Know that federal law prohibits the use of any pesticide in a manner inconsistent with its labeling. This makes it a felony to use it on someone.
Another misconception of personal protection is, like wasp spray, using bear spray as a deterrent to attackers.
Every can of bear spray displays an EPA registration number. Because of this it is not intended to be a self defense tool.
As a result if you buy it and use it for self defense against humans, you open yourself up to legal ramifications.
✰✰ READ MORE ✰✰ Does Bear Spray Work? Is it Legit or Scam?
Unlike wasp spray and bear spray, pepper spray can be used responsibly to fend off human attackers legally.
However, I do suggest taking a self-defense class to learn how to properly and effectively use pepper spray. One of thing topics you’ll learn is how wind speed and direction can affect the effectiveness of pepper spray.
If the wind is blowing in the users face, the spray will contaminate the user and not the attacker. In addition, if there is a cross-wind the attacker may not receive a full application of the spray.
Be aware that some states or local jurisdictions differ so it’s important to stay up to date pepper spray laws for each state.
Firearms and Other Deadly Weapons
First, you’ve probably noticed some RVs have decals that read: “protected by 2nd amendment” or “Don’t tread on me” flags. Honestly, I feel like they are like a double-edge sword.
Though they may present themselves as a security feature or crime deterrent, is it really wise to advertise that you have firearms in your RV or vehicle? Those 2nd amendment decals may actually make yourself, family and RV a target of theft and crime.
Second, if you’re thinking of buying a firearm or other deadly weapon for protection, know the incredible responsibility behind gun ownership and using a firearm.
You need to be aware of personal protection laws of each state and local jurisdictions; even if you’re just driving from state to state.
Whether an RVer has any firearms or deadly weapons in their RV is up to each state you travel in or through. Each state’s legislation may differ from another.
So, it’s imperative that for gun owners to be familiar with each state’s laws, right to carry, reciprocity laws, licensing and what kind of firearms are legal for transporting across state lines in your RV or vehicle.
We also highly recommend familiarizing yourself with the laws on the federal side. But do know, neither ATF nor any other Federal agency issues such a permit or license.
Carry Concealed Permits, also referred to as CCDW or Carry Concealed Deadly Weapon, are issued and regulated only by State or local governments.
For individual state laws regarding firearm protection and use, we encourage you to read a few articles to get the most beneficial information:
All of that said above, if arming yourself with a firearm is what you choose to do to protect you and your family, accept whatever the outcome may pose legal ramifications.
And, I can’t stress the importance (and requirement) of proper training to use a firearm. Don’t think you can just go out and buy a hand gun or rifle for personal protection and call it a day. Gun ownership is serious business.
Lastly, it bears constant repeating…
Always keep all firearms out of reach of children and persons not properly trained to use them.
Oh, and it’s wise to store your ammunition away from, not only your firearms but, any heat-producing sources.
✰✰ READ MORE ✰✰ Protect Your Valuables from Theft & Fire with the Right RV Safe
Final thoughts on crime prevention and RV safety
Whether you’re RVing or road tripping across the country, we hope these personal safety tips will help keep travelers and campers safe.
Times are different now. Unfortunately, so are some people. Crime is at an all time high as is, human trafficking.
So, it bears repeating to always be vigilant, cautious and try not to put yourself or your travel companions in possible criminal confrontations.
You still can have fun an enjoy your adventures on the road. Just do so with a street smart mentality. Please travel safely!
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