Knowing The Lifespan Of LP Gas, CO, And Smoke Detectors In Your RV
Just like the equipment that you keep at home to warn you of fires and gas leaks, the devices on board your RV have a lifespan, and once that period is over you could find yourself with some faulty hardware. One of the biggest problems campers and travelers face with the detectors in their recreational vehicles is that it’s so easy to go on with your trip and never once think about those monitors hanging around inside until one of them goes off, or worse, until one of them doesn’t go off in time and there’s damage to your unit or even worse to a passenger on board.
Unfortunately, this story is not all too uncommon. Recently, Knoxnews reported that a couple traveling were found dead inside their RV. “The preliminary investigation indicates that one of the propane gas stove burners inside the RV had been left on accidentally. Police said there was a strong odor of gas inside the RV.” You can read the full story hear.
This is a sobering reminder to all of us who enjoy the RV lifestyle to take a few extra minutes in order to safeguard yourself and your family against unnecessary accidents — always replace these devices when the time comes.
Safety On The Road
It’s important to focus on the safety of your recreational vehicle, not only while you’re on the road, but before you set off on a trip as well. Planning ahead to have extra batteries for all of the electronic detectors on your vehicle should be a top priority, and considered more important even than packing your toothbrush. Before setting off it’s a good idea to start up your RV and test that all of your devices are working properly and ready to inform you if there are any problems with gas, carbon monoxide, or smoke. Remember that unlike other vehicles, you and your family will be sleeping in this one, so treat the alarms as you would the ones in your home and keep them up to date and properly maintained at all times.
Any RV that contains a gas appliance as well as an electric system requires a detector, and under requirements for UL 1484 the detector used must be registered as a suitable unit for a recreational vehicle, and properly installed. This is for the safety of yourself and anybody else who might be riding with you. This is because although the gas has a fairly noticeable scent, if you forget to turn it off and go to bed you’re not likely to smell it and it could be fatal to those in the RV. Your LP gas detector should be replaced every five years so that you know that it’s in proper working order and can alert you if gas levels become too high at any time. Be sure to place them near all of the input areas that the gas feeds into the RV.
Retailing for anywhere between fifteen and one hundred dollars in the United States, a CO monitor provides you with a powerful alarm should your vehicle floor with carbon monoxide at any time. Odorless, tasteless, and invisible, this substance can sneak up on you if you aren’t careful, and is considered to be highly toxic. It attaches to the hemoglobin in your blood and is two hundred times stronger than oxygen, meaning that it won’t take very long to take effect. These devices as designed for RV use, come as 12V operated or battery powered and some models have a battery backup should the 12V cut out. Most devices are recognized as having a six year lifespan, and each model should have this printed on the unit itself or the paperwork that comes with it upon purchase. Similar to a smoke alarm, your CO detection unit should have a “test” button, which you should utilize before taking off on any highway adventures. Place your alarms near the ceiling, but don’t forget to place one near the floor, as carbon monoxide has a density very similar to that of oxygen, so it could just as easily be low in the vehicle rather than high the way that smoke invades a space.
Smoke detectors are the most common alarms to have in any home or RV, and are just as important on the road as they are back at the house. Most manufacturers will label their devices with a date which you should have it replaced by, but the standard is usually seven to ten years. Some companies encourage users to change the unit every five years to be safe, because ten percent of the effectiveness of the detector is lost each year that it remains active. When you think about it, this means that after five years your smoke alarm is only running at 50% capacity, which isn’t very safe for anybody involved.
A good tip to use with any of the above detectors is to write on the back of the unit with a permanent marker, the date that you’re installing and turning it on for the first time, along with the date that it should be replaced, if that date isn’t already located on the machine. This allows you to quickly and efficiently look at and replace each model that’s past its best before date.