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NEWS | June 20, 2019

Keep summer safe with tips for cars, recreational vehicles

502nd Civil Engineer Squadron Fire & Life Safety Educator

With summer around the corner the freedom to go on road trips, excursions on the lake, family fun on boats, camping sites galore, the list is endless.

But safety should be foremost in any family summer event whether you’re road tripping it or just driving a few miles. Summer months are fraught with potential concerns, especially when you and the kids pile in the family car.

Vehicle safety tips:

Do you know what to do if your car or RV is on fire?

·         Pull over as quickly as it is safe to do so, be sure to use your signal as you make your way to a safe location off the road such as the breakdown lane or rest stop.

·         Once you have stopped, turn off the engine.

·         Get everyone out of the car/recreational vehicle. Never return to a burning car or recreational vehicle for anything. Get out and stay out.

·         Move everyone at least 100 feet from the burning car / recreational vehicle and well away from traffic.

·         If the fire is small and you can extinguish it without putting yourself in danger, put it out with a fire extinguisher, but do not risk your safety.

·         Call 9-1-1. Know your exact location so firefighters can find you.

Boating safety tips:

·         Operator inexperience, inattention, recklessness and speeding are the four leading causes of watercraft crashes and the leading cause of death is drowning.

·         Crash statistics indicate boaters who wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets and take boater safety courses are most likely to stay safe.

·         Never use drugs or alcohol before or during boat operation. Alcohol's effects are greatly exaggerated by exposure to sun, glare, wind, noise and vibration.

·         Have a fire extinguisher.

·         Have operable boat lights and always test boat lights before the boat leaves the dock and carry extra batteries. Keep emergency supplies on board in a floating pouch: cell phone, maps, flares and first-aid kit.

Recreational vehicle safety tips:


In America, fire is one of the major causes of RV loss. An estimated 20,000 RV fires transpire yearly according to the National Fire Protection Association. Don't let yours be one of them.


In an article written by Kathy Komatz, National Structural Fire Training Specialist, from August 2012, RV fires can start when your RV is moving or when it is parked. The following tips can help you recognize the most common fire hazards:


Before you go

  • Make a pre-trip checklist and inspect you RV every time you hit the road.
  • Have three fire extinguishers for your RV – one in the kitchen, one in the bedroom and one outside in an unlocked compartment or in your tow vehicle. Make sure every traveler knows where they are located and how to use them.
  • Test your smoke detector.
  • Have at least two escape routes and an escape plan. Practice it with your travelers.
  • Make sure all travelers can open the front door, hatches and emergency exits.
  • Ensure that your RV's carbon monoxide and the propane detectors are properly located and functioning.
  • Ensure that the power cord for connecting your RV to a campground's electricity supply is in good condition and of suitable gauge wire to handle the electrical load. Replace damaged cords immediately.
  • Proper maintenance will help reduce your chances of having malfunctions on the road. 

 While you are camping (or parked)

  • Never leave cooking unattended.
  • Never leave appliances that are plugged in and on unattended.
  • Turn off overhead exhaust fans when you leave the RV.
  • Don't leave 12-volt lights on. Keep clothing and other burnable things away from them (like in storage spaces) because they get very hot.
  • If the flame on your galley stove goes out while in use, unless you have run out of fuel, the gas will continue to flow and could result in an explosion. Turn off the stove and air out the RV before trying to relight.
  • Keep all combustibles – from paper towels to curtains – far enough away from your stove that they cannot catch fire.
  • Gasoline and propane can pose an immediate, explosive danger. Deal at once with any leaks or spills, and use all fuels in adequately vented areas. Operate your generator in an area where gasoline fumes cannot reach an ignition source.
  • Keep your campsite fire sources such as fire rings, tiki torches and lanterns away from all vehicles.
  • RVs often have a very limited number of electrical outlets, and sometimes RVers use power strips to plug more things in. Don't overload the electrical outlets. Circuit breakers don't always prevent overloads from starting fires.
  • It's best never to use an extension cord in an RV. If you must, make sure you use a heavy duty extension cord, and make sure the load you put on it is well within its safe load capacity. Don't run any electrical cord under a carpet or floor mat.

    For contact the fire prevention offices at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston at 210-221-2727, JBSA-Lackland at 210-671-2921 or JBSA-Randolph at 210-652-6915.www.nfpa.org/education. For more information about summer safety, visit the National Fire Prevention Association website at http://