RV 101: Carbon Monoxide Awareness
It’s that time of year again, when we fire up the furnace and bring out the portable heaters to help stay warm. Along with the furnace and portable heaters comes the threat of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Produced by the partial combustion of solid, liquid and gaseous fuels, carbon monoxide gas is invisible, odorless, and deadly. It is extremely serious when combustion by-products are not vented outside; in fact, carbon monoxide is the number one cause of poisoning deaths each year.
Let’s look at what we can do to prevent the danger of carbon monoxide in our RV.
Causes of Carbon Monoxide Gas in RVs
• Exhaust leaks from a vehicle engine or a generator
• Improper use of portable gas powered heaters
• Someone else’s vehicle or generator when camping in close quarters
• Malfunctioning or unvented LP gas appliances
If your RV doesn’t have a carbon monoxide detector you need to purchase a battery operated carbon monoxide detector designed for use in RVs. Test the carbon monoxide detector every time you use the RV, and replace the batteries when you change clocks for daylight savings time.
• Inspect the generator exhaust system before using the generator, every time
• Avoid leaving windows down and roof vents open when in close proximity to vehicle and/or generator exhaust
• Follow all directions and safety cautions and warnings when operating gas powered heaters
• If you use a portable generator direct the exhaust away from the camping area
• Never use the range burners or oven to heat the RV!
• When cooking with the range burners use the range fan and always leave a window cracked open for fresh air and ventilation
Recognizing Carbon Monoxide Symptoms
The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are similar to flu, but without fever. They include:
- Muscular twitching
- Intense headache
- Throbbing in the temples
- Weakness and sleepiness
- Inability to think coherently
KOA’s resident RV expert, Mark Polk, and his wife Dawn started RV Education 101 in 1999. Since that time RV Education 101 has helped educate millions of RV owners and RV enthusiasts on how to properly and safely use and maintain their RV. Mark’s favorite past times are RVing in their 35-foot Type A motorhome, and restoring vintage RVs, classic cars and trucks. For more information on how to learn about RVs the easy way, visit RV Education 101. Be sure to check out their RV Online Training Site too!