Dear Minnesota RV Drivers, Be Sure to Watch For Deer

Deer are generally an elusive animal, and if you’re lucky, you may get to see in their natural habitat. Most often your best chance of getting a glimpse of this animal is early in the quiet, calm morning near a river or lake or even roaming around your Minnesota campsite. One place you do not expect (or in the least bit desire) to have an encounter with a deer is out on the open road in your RV.

The danger of having an accident involving a deer while driving is mostly unavoidable. Coincidentally, the high risk months (October, November and December) for deer collisions are upon us. These months happen to be the mating and migration season for deer, which only increase a motorist’s chance of having a close encounter with one. As it just so happens, we Minnesota folk fall at the eighth spot in the top 10 list of the most high risk states, with the odds of a deer collision in the next 12 months being 1 in 98. Think you can guess which state has the fewest encounters with deer? Would you be surprised to hear that it’s Hawaii; with the odds being 1 in 6,267? Shocking, I know!

So for those of us at risk, there are some things to do and not to do that can help us avoid a deer/RV collision. The following are precautions given by Consumer Report to take into account, in order to lessen your risk of being another statistic.

  • Slow down. Watch for deer especially around dawn and between the hours of 6-9 p.m. (When they are most active.)
  • Be aware. Look out for deer-crossing signs and wooded areas where deer or other animals would likely travel. And if you travel the same route to and from work every day, you might find deer consistently grazing in the same fields. Make a mental note of when and where you regularly see these animals.
  • Be alert. If you see an animal on the side of the road, slow down, and, at night, when traffic permits, put on your high-beams for greater visibility.
  • Brake, don’t swerve. Swerving to avoid an animal can put you at risk for hitting another vehicle or losing control of your own car. It can also confuse the animal as to which way to go. Just slow down as quickly and safely as you can. Your odds of surviving an accident are better hitting an animal than another car.
  • Assume they have friends. The phrase “where there’s one, there’s usually more” often holds true. Deer travel in groups, so if you see one run across the road, expect others to follow.
  • Don’t rely on deer whistles. The whims of wild animals are not beholden to this technology.
  • Buckle up. A seat belt is your best defense for minimizing your risk in a crash. An Insurance Institute for Highway Safety study found that 60 percent of the people killed in animal-vehicle collisions weren’t wearing seat belts.

The good news, however, is that State Farm Insurance reported that deer collisions have been on the decline for the last three years, with the past year’s decline almost twice than that of the two years prior combined. We all need to be careful out there during this time of year, including my fellow Minnesotan RV enthusiasts.

What Minneapolis RV Owners Should Know About Cell Phones and Filling Stations

Hey Minnesota RVers, have you seen the signs at filling station near the gas pumps that tell you not to use your cell phone while pumping gas? Recently I received an e-mail from a friend stating the dangers of cell phone use while filling up.

Safety Alert! There are several reasons why cell phones aren’t allowed in operating areas, propylene oxide handling and storage areas, or propane, gas and diesel refueling areas. For one, they can ignite fuel or fumes. Mobile phones that light up when switched on or when they ring release enough energy to provide a spark for ignition. Mobile phones should not be used in filling stations, or when fueling lawn mowers, boat, etc. In fact, mobile phones should not be used, or should be turned off, around several other materials that generate flammable or explosive fumes or dust including solvents, chemicals, gases, grain dust, etc. The following is an e-mail I received stating the rules of being safe at the pump and some interesting facts about a study done regarding incidents where fires resulted in not following proper refueling etiquette.

 

To sum it up, here are the Four Rules for Safe Refueling:

  1. Turn off engine.
  2. Don’t smoke.
  3. Don’t use your cell phone – leave it inside the
    vehicle or turn it off.
  4. Don’t re-enter your vehicle during fueling .

Bob Renkes of Petroleum Equipment Institute is working on a campaign to try and make people aware of fires as a result of ‘static electricity’ at gas pumps.  His company researched 150 cases of these fires.

His results were very surprising.

  1. Out of 150 cases, almost all of them were women.
  2. Almost all cases involved the person getting back in their vehicle while the nozzle was still pumping gas. When finished, they went back to pull the nozzle out and the fire started, as a result of static.
  3. Most had on rubber-soled shoes.
  4. Most men never get back in their vehicle until completely finished. This is why they are seldom involved in these types of fires.
  5. Don’t ever use cell phones when pumping gas.
  6. It is the vapors that come out of the gas that cause the fire, when connected with static charges.
  7. There were 29 fires where the vehicle was re-entered and the nozzle was touched during refueling from a variety of makes and models. Some resulted in extensive damage to the vehicle, to the station, and to the customer.
  8. Seventeen fires occurred before, during or immediately after the gas cap was removed and before fueling began.

Mr. Renkes stresses to NEVER get back into your vehicle while filling it with gas. If you absolutely HAVE to get in your vehicle while the gas is pumping, make sure you get out, close the door TOUCHING THE METAL, before you ever pull the nozzle out.  This way the static from your body will be discharged before you ever remove the nozzle.

Have you heard any additional information regarding the dangers of cell phones and gas pumps? We’d love to learn more about it!

Stay Awake at the Wheel of Your RV Minnesota

Photo courtesy of TomandHelenLove

The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) estimated that nearly two-thirds of adult Americans experience a sleeping problems several nights during the week, and 43 percent say they are so tired that it interferes with there daily activities. For RVers, this can be especially problematic considering we spend a lot of time driving down the road.

The U.S. National Highway Safety Administration estimates that fatigued drivers contribute to roughly 100,000 highway crashes and cause 1,500 deaths per year. It’s been said that people who have been awake for longer than 17 hours perform worse than someone with a .05 BAC! Hard to believe, isn’t it? Similar to alcohol, sleepiness slows reaction time, decreases awareness and impairs your judgment.

Though most people turn to caffeine when they are tired, this will only temporarily work. If you are sleep deprived and drink coffee, you could even experience brief four or five minute naps called “micro-sleeps”.  In those short five seconds, your RV can travel more than 100 yards at only 55 miles an hour.

The next time your about to head out on the road, please make sure you get a full night of rest before. If you ever feel drowsy, there’s no shame in pulling over at taking a brief nap.

The NSF also recommends the following:

  1. Learn to recognize and pay attention to the warning signs of fatigue. Take a break if you experience wandering or disconnected thoughts, yawn repeatedly, have difficulty focusing or keeping your eyes open, or find yourself missing traffic signs or tailgating other drivers.
  2. Don’t count on tricks like turning up the radio or opening the window for fresh air to keep you awake—these things will help for only a short while.
  3. If you’re planning on driving a long distance, drive during the time of the day when you are normally awake.
  4. Also, if possible, have someone accompany you and talk with that person while driving. It’s a good idea for your passenger to stay awake, too, so that he or she can let you know if you are showing signs of sleepiness.
  5. On longer trips, schedule a break (in a safe area) every two hours or every 100 miles and stop sooner if you show any signs of sleepiness.

Use Toothpaste to Clean Your RV Headlights

Have you started to notice while driving your RV at night that your headlights aren’t shining as brightly as they used to? Or maybe you’ve noticed that your headlights have a yellowy film on them. Often times, RV owners think that the problem is on the inside of the lens and will end up spending hundreds on replacements.  However, this discoloration mostly occurs because the outside cover on your lamps has become oxidized and simply needs to be cleaned up.

While there are many different products you can spend a good amount of money on to fix this problem, I have found a solution that is quite effective and hardly costs me anything – and they call it toothpaste. Sounds a little strange, but believe it or not your toothpaste can be quite versatile.

Step 1 – Get your run of the mill, white toothpaste. Notice the word paste and not the gel kind.

Step 2 – Apply the toothpaste to the plastic cover with a dry cloth. and rub in a circular motion until you start to notice the grime wipe away.

Step 3 – Rinse with water, and wipe away any residual paste with a wet cloth.

And there you have it. Clean, clear covers and better visibility at night! If you’re still having visibility issues or the headlights still appear dirty, feel free to give us a call or swing by. We’ll be glad to help you figure out if it’s indeed time for a new set of headlights.

Extreme RV Weather: High Winds

You don’t have to be in the middle of a hurricane or F3 tornado to experience high winds while on the road. The skies may be clear and the sun brightly shining, but we should never forget about that unseen force of nature that can so easily leave you’re fifth wheel or travel trailer overturned on the side of highway 90. I’m pretty sure this RV driver did not see this coming…

Crosswinds pose the greatest threat to fifth wheels and travel trailers because they can push the vehicle into another lane, or as we saw above, they can cause the vehicle to turnover.

So how can we avoid this situation, Minnesota RV enthusiasts? You can do one of two things: slow down to a speed where you feel comfortable or pull over and wait for conditions to clear. Unfortunately, these are really your only two options. If you have any questions or need some more tips on how to handle your RV in high winds, you can always give us a call or stop by one of our locations.

Do You Always Drive Around With Your Trailer Hitch?

Have you ever heard anything about trailer hitches being hazardous on your truck when not in use? Well, apparently the answer is a resounding yes!  The following video will show how it can affect your driving.  Do you keep your hitch on your truck all the time?

When you think about it, hitches are used to pull boats, RV trailers, jet skis, work trailers and more.  Logic would stand to show that many people have hitches on their cars.  Let’s find out why it can be dangerous.

Roughly 40 percent of vehicles on the highway have a receiver hitch (sometimes referred to as a trailer hitch). Many times when a vehicle is finished towing, the ball mount is just not removed from the hitch. This result’s in a collision from the rear there’s a 22 percent increased chance of a whiplash injury to passengers. Learn more in this one minute video. [RV Videos]

While I had thought about hitches sticking out and the accidents that they may cause, that statistic really makes me think of the importance of removing your trailer hitch when not in use.  Check out the video below for some more information.

 

8 Quick Tips for the RV Season

Before you head back out on the road in your RV for the season, there are a many things you need to do and check.  Safety is always very important and going through your checklist is a good way to be prepared.  I came across an article with a few such tips for your viewing pleasure:

Clean it up and air it out. Open all roof vents and windows and then remove any pest control items you may have placed during winter storage. It is also a good idea to clean or replace air conditioner filters.

Check for damage.

  • Look for deterioration of seals around doors, roof vents and windows and reseal as necessary.
  • Check awnings for damage, mildew and insects.
  • Examine the hitch system for wear, loose bolts and cracks.

Change the engine oil and spark plugs. Many manufacturers recommend changing the oil and filter prior to storage and again in the spring. During storage, oil can separate and cause condensation buildup that may harm the engine. While replacing spark plugs, be sure to set the gaps to the recommended manufacturer’s setting.

Inspect the engine.

  • Check the battery.
  • Check the cooling and fuel systems.
  • Drain and flush the entire system of the nontoxic antifreeze you used before placing the RV into storage and replace with the proper coolant.
  • Check for cracks in hoses and fan belts and replace if necessary.
  • Replace fuel filter, and examine the fuel lines and fittings for cracks and leaks.
  • Change the transmission fluid and filter.
  • Flush the water system.

Inspect the tires. Check for cracks, worn treads and correct tire pressure.

Check all lights. Make sure headlights, taillights, brake lights and turn signals are all functioning properly.

Prepare for a safe season. After checking all mechanical components, it’s always a good idea to inspect your safety equipment. This means installing new batteries in flashlights and smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and restocking the first-aid kit.

Check your coverage. After making these routine checks, don’t forget to review your insurance policy to make sure it meets your current needs.

Just like you we are really excited for the upcoming season, but make sure your RV is in tip top shape before heading out on the road.  While these tips are a good start, make sure you do your due diligence.  Is there anything that you can think of that can be added to the list?  Leave a comment below and share it with us!!

[Source: Village Soup]

Looking for a GPS for Your RV?

Rand McNally has just launched its first “RV Only” GPS device called the TripMaker RVND 5510.  How many times have you been in a car and saw the functions brought to you through a GPS and wondered how this could help you on your next RV vacation?  Just a couple more weeks to find out as they have marked June for its release.

Take a look at some of the features this RV GPS device allows:

– RV-Easy Routing with a base of award-winning navigation from Rand McNally, the TripMaker RVND 5510 layers on all the information needed to have an enjoyable and safe trip in an RV.  The routing includes legal (including propane and other RV-only), height and weight restrictions, right- or left-turn preference based on 11 different RV types, and a quick reference to the Rand McNally Road Atlas. Turn-by-turn spoken and text directions keep the driver focused on the road ahead.

– The TripMaker RVND features more than 14 million points of interest – including festivals, and national, state, and regional parks.  Other key information includes:
•    RV campgrounds, RV dealers and service, parking and rest areas, travel centers with detailed amenities such as dump stations, propane availability and more.
•    Detailed exit information and available amenities on upcoming interstate exits.
•    RVer Tools such as checklists for set up and take down, maintenance logs, trails back to your campsite, and quick mileage calculators.
•    Pet-friendly locations including parks, animal hospitals, and beaches.

In addition to routing and tools critical to RVers, the TripMaker RVND features Rand McNally Editor’s Pick Content – proprietary data provided by our editorial staff with video and photos.  The content includes:
•    Best of the Road – three-to-four day adventures including unique stops, photos of the locations, maps and more to plan a memorable adventure.
•    Regional Trips, Scenic Tours, Weekend Getaways, and City Trips.
•    12,000 researched locations that will make any trip exciting and unique.

How would you use a device like this on your RV travels?  Are you gonna purchase one upon their release?  Leave us a comment below and let us know what you think about it!!

[Source: RV Business]

 

Basic RV Battery Information

Is there a more annoying sound than turning your RV key and realizing your battery is dead?  Making sure your battery is working properly is very important.  If you ever had this happen to you, check out the following information to help you out the next time!!

Some Basic Battery Info

In today’s RVs everything relies on 12-volt batteries to function–everything from the roof air conditioner to the refrigerator. Once the roof air conditioner and the refrigerator are turned on they run on 110V, but the computer used to start the air conditioner and refrigerator uses the 12-volt. In addition, your water heater and your furnace are also all 12-volt operated.

Without your batteries in working condition none of these things would work properly and the simplest daily functions in your RV would be impossible to carry out.

The type of batteries in your RV should be deep cycle batteries. This just means essentially that they are designed to store a large amount of power, discharge that power very deeply, and recharge over and over again.

To get the most out of your deep cycle battery and have it last as long as possible before you have to pay for a replacement, you’ll want to spend the few minutes it will take to maintain it.

RV Battery Maintenance – Filling With Distilled Water

With proper maintenance an RV battery lasts an average of 5 years. To achieve a longer life span one important thing you’ll want to do is keep your batteries full with water (distilled water is recommended).

To get started remove the battery cap and give a look in there. You’ll see a tube going into each cell with slits up the sides. These slits allow the gases to flow from cell to cell. Fill until the water touches the bottom of the tube and be careful not to overfill.

If you overfill and cover the slits in the side of each tube you will see liquid oozing from your caps and making a mess of everything around there. Battery trays and connections will all stay cleaner if you take care not to overfill and maintenance is done correctly.

When To Get A New Battery

If the lead plates are not covered in water when you check them chances are good you need to get a new RV battery. At this point, if the battery is not completely ruined then you’ve at least taken a lot of the life out of it.

The best and most inexpensive way to avoid this problem is to not let the water get that low. If you regularly follow the above maintenance strategies you will maximize the lifespan of your battery and only have to worry about this when it’s unpreventable.

Charging Your RV Batteries

There is nothing more important than keeping your battery’s connections clean with the above process, but it is also important to keep them consistently charged.

When doing this, keep in mind realistic timeframes to charge up. If your RV batteries are reading low on the monitor, it will take around 72 hours to charge them. If you just charge them for a day, as some owners may do right before a trip, they will only have 1/3 of the total charge.

Think of your batteries as a 5 gallon water bottle. You can pour the water out quickly and easily–that’s apparent enough. But imagine the only way you can fill the bottle back up is through a separate hole the size of a pencil. The refilling will take much more time. In other words, it is much easier to drain your batteries than it is to recharge them.

It doesn’t hurt your batteries to be low on charge, but it will make your life easier just to keep them charged up.

When storing your RV for two months or more, you will want to make it so your batteries do not discharge. To do this, simply disconnect the ground wire. Your batteries cannot discharge without this ground (unless the battery is already bad, of course).

Dry CampingIf you try dry camping–that is, camping with no electrical hook ups–all you need to do is run your generator three hours in the morning and three hours in the evening and you will be fine forever.

If you don’t have a generator consider getting solar power, it works extremely well and I highly recommend it. However, if you don’t have a generator or solar power and want to go camping, the key is just to not bring your kids (They never seem to turn a light off! Ha!)

Other Relevant Info

Most RVs have a 2 amp draw (or more) on the engine starting battery even when the batteries are turned off using the auto disconnects. This is the factory setting. I don’t like it this way, so don’t get mad at you RV technician, it isn’t his/her fault.

Having the RV plugged into 110V shore power will not charge the engine battery, so if stored for a long time, disconnect the grounds at the engine battery. They only charge when the engine is running.

NOTE: To all RV owners, if you are plugged into 110V shore power remember to leave your house battery’s disconnect on. Batteries won’t get a charge if they are off and it overworks your converter charger big time if the disconnect is not on. You should have the engine battery off because remember it won’t get charged from the converter anyway.

I hope this was helpful info for you and your RV health!  Please leave a comment with more suggestions or good RV battery stories!

[Source: Money Saving RV]

St. Cloud, Got your Keys?!?

There are a few situations that people get themselves into that absolutely drive them crazy.  One of these situations is losing or locking your keys in your car or RV.  Even if you have some sort of roadside assistance company such as AAA on your side, it can still run you upwards of $150 to have a new keys made for you.  If anything could make that situation worse, it would be having to shell out money to resolve the issue.

Are there some things you can do to prepare for the situation?? Absolutely!!  I came across an article that has some such suggestions to help you prevent a costly situation:

Main Set… Separate one set of keys into three groups–Door key, Ignition key, and all the rest. Carry the door key when you lock and leave the RV. If you have a motorhome, leave the ignition key inside–keep reading to find out where. Store the rest of your keys (compartment, fuel door, etc.) near the front in case you need them.

Backup Set… Keep a set in your other vehicle–just in case.

Emergency set… Get one of the magnetic key holders used for hiding keys. Put one door keycompartment keyignition key, and a fuel door key inside. Hide it well. Crawl around underneath and find a great hiding place not visible by just walking around and looking at the coach.

Test the magnetism. Is it easy to remove? Can it fall off? Secure it with one of the plastic electrical ties. Cover it with mud or spray paint it to look like the background. Do not make this easy to find or access and make it impossible to see. After all, it is only for emergencies.

Additionally, in our seminars, one topic that always comes up is the number of RVers that forget to crank down their TV antenna or satellite dish before driving out of the campground. Since your ignition key will be separate from the others, when you crank up your TV antenna or satellite dish, hang your ignition key from the crank. That way, you can’t drive away without being reminded to crank down these items. Without a firm reminder, you will forget at some point but if so, it’s only about $150.00 to replace the antenna. The only way to ensure you will remember to crank it down is to force yourself to reach up there for the ignition key.

Have you ever locked your keys in your RV, or even lost them??  Leave a comment below and let us know!!

[Source: New RVer]