Three Common RV Emergencies and How to Prepare for Them

The longer you’re out on the road, the more things you run into that you never thought you’d see. When I first got into RVing with my boyfriend, we thought it would be a great way to see the country and not get bored while we worked from the road.

Boy, was I right! Sometimes, though, there can be more adventure out there than you bargained — or planned — for. We would have been better off if we had been a little more prepared, and now we know a little more of what to expect, which is why I’m writing this now. I wanted to share a few of our experiences so you’ll know what could happen out there, even if it never happens to you.

Three kinds of emergencies

We’ve come across three different kinds of problems you can encounter on the road, generally speaking: emergencies with yourself, emergencies involving other people, and emergencies with your RV.

  1. Emergencies with Yourself

When I say “emergencies with yourself,” I mean mostly health-related issues. But the category’s not limited to major physical problems, like getting injured in a traffic accident. It also pertains to the things you might not think about.

For instance, my boyfriend Jacob and I have always been real road warriors, except for one thing: He tends to get queasy on winding roads. That had never been a problem because even though we share the driving duties, he’s always behind the wheel when we go into the mountains. 

Once, though, we took a side trip through what we thought would be gently rolling hills. We didn’t plan on the road turning really curvy really quickly. It was very narrow, too, with no place to pull off, so we had to keep going. He managed to keep it together, but just barely. I swear his face was greener than Kermit the Frog by the time we found a place to pull over.

None of it had to happen, though. If we’d been prepared, we would have been fine. If we’d checked our GPS navigation app before we took that spontaneous side trip, we’d have known to avoid that particular road. And if we’d had some motion sickness pills on board, it might not have been quite so bad. 

That got us thinking of other things that could go wrong, so we made a checklist and started crossing things off. Since we’re on the road full time, we already knew we needed to have all our important paperwork (prescription names and numbers, health care cards, insurance records, financial docs, etc.) accessible before we even got started. 

But it’s not just physical health that’s important; mental health is, too. With all the adventure we were looking forward to, we didn’t realize we’d still get bored occasionally, and irritable — sometimes with each other. So we picked up some inexpensive, compact travel games to play (we’ve always loved Uno) to distract us when we get grouchy and help us reconnect. 

It’s worked like a charm, and it would be a great way to keep the kids engaged if you’re on a family vacation.

  1. Emergencies Involving Others

I’ve identified two subcategories of emergencies involving others: Those that affect people you know, and those that arise from interactions with strangers.

For the first kind, it’s important to stay connected. We were thankful we had a cell booster when my mom had to go to the hospital for an appendectomy, and we were out of normal cell range. It wasn’t a life-threatening emergency, but it could have been, and I know it helped Mom feel better just to hear my voice. 

We make it a point to keep an extra phone charger on board, too, just in case. And we’ve even got a small portable generator in the back for emergencies that might strike when we’re in the middle of nowhere and we need power to stay connected — in more ways than one. 

Then there are emergencies involving strangers. More than once, we’ve come across travelers with dead batteries who asked us for a jump, and they’ve been grateful we had jumper cables on board — which brings me to…

  1. Emergencies with your RV

The best way to deal with vehicular emergencies is to prevent them before they happen (or at least, whenever you can).

Inspect your RV thoroughly before you leave, including the roof and plumbing for possible leaks. Check the oil, filters, spark plugs, and critical parts like the brake pads and tires. 

While fairly common, tire blowouts can be deadly, especially in an RV.  So inspect your tires before you head out. Make sure they’re properly inflated and don’t show signs of significant wear to the tread or sidewalls.

If you do have an emergency on the road, be sure you’ve got everything on board you need to handle it, from road flares to a jack; from a full tool kit and flashlight with spare batteries to extra antifreeze and tire chains for frosty weather. 

It doesn’t hurt to subscribe to roadside assistance insurance, either. You can get it through your insurance company or RV clubs. We didn’t have it at first, but being caught in an Arizona thunderstorm with a flat tire was enough motivation to purchase it. Jacob and I both got drenched!

So there you have it: The ABC’s — or, rather, the 1-2-3’s — of staying prepared on the road. That’s a crash course… so you don’t crash, and have the most fun possible on your road-trip adventures!

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