Sure, you’ve thought about bears and theft, but there are other dangers of camping in an RV campground you probably haven’t considered. Here’s what you need to know to stay safe…
We all know we need to be mindful of dangerous wildlife and should lock our doors and windows. But what about more subtle but very real dangers of camping in an RV campground?
I’m talking about fire-starting, stomach-upsetting, water-logged dangers that too many campers often overlook.
So, I’m going to tell you about 5 major dangers you need to be aware of. Then, you’ll know what to look for and what questions to ask when booking your next campground.
PLUS, at the end, we link to another article that lists safety gadgets for EVERY DANGER RVers face.
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5 Dangers of Camping in an RV Campground
Of course, some of these dangers are more prevalent in different parts of the country. You’re not as likely to encounter dangerous weather in Southern California, for instance.
However, I’m sure you can apply the wisdom of each danger to whatever location you’re traveling to.
Just know that the point of this article is not to scare you but to prepare you for less-obvious dangers you may not have considered. We LOVE camping and think everyone can and should enjoy it.
So, whether you're a solo female traveler, a senior citizen, a young newbie, or a family with a gaggle of kids, don't let these dangers deter you from camping. Just consider them and how best to prepare for them as necessary.
1. Bad Electrical
Unfortunately, it’s far too common for electrical hookups not to be properly maintained. Campgrounds that are struggling financially or are under bad management often delay electrical maintenance and repair because it can be expensive.
That leaves RVers at risk of using a faulty outlet and two big dangers. The first big (& costly) danger is a power surge that fries your electrical system.
The second big danger of bad electrical is FIRE! It’s no surprise that sparks or surges of electricity can catch your RV on fire. It’s important to know your RV fire safety.
That’s why I recommend you always inspect your electrical connection before you plug in. Does it look badly unmaintained? Do you see any exposed wires? If it’s scary-looking… you probably should be scared.
2. Unclean Water
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Living in America, we often take safe drinking water for granted. In many of our homes, we can drink straight from the tap. But that doesn’t mean we can do the same while camping!
Flint, Michigan, has certainly served as a warning to all Americans that we should think twice before blindly trusting any water spout.
Unclean water is one of the top unseen dangers of camping and should be taken seriously. Granted, if you’re only camping for a short while, it may not do any long-term damage, but it can make you sick regardless.
Do you really want to chance ruining your trip with a sick stomach at the very least (or possibly far worse)?
3. Bad Site Location for Flooding
This camping danger applies to campground locations as well as individual campsite locations. You can unwittingly park in a flood zone and not be properly prepared if a storm hits.
Granted, this isn’t usually a year-round risk. However, at the very least, you want to be aware of the possible necessity to pack up and move if a big storm is headed your way.
It’s important to learn flood basics and note where your campsite is in relation to:
- Rivers and streams
- Mountains and steep hills
- Rocky and shallow clay soils
Note that notably dry locations (like Arizona) are not immune to flooding! In fact, they can be more at risk of flash floods. So, take heavy rains seriously wherever you’re camping.
4. Unsafe Neighborhood
Pictures of campgrounds can paint a picturesque setting… that may be located in an unsafe neighborhood. Theft and violent crimes may prevail in the area, and you’d have no idea until you drive through and get that queasy feeling in the pit of your stomach.
While campgrounds are generally very safe, you should always be aware of your surroundings. And you do need to take extra precautions whenever parking overnight at truck stops, rest stops, or other lot-docking locations.
You can easily research local crime in the area online. SpotCrime.com is one such helpful resource you can use to search by address or state. For more peace of mind wherever you travel, you can install an RV security system.
But please be assured that theft isn't as common at campgrounds as one might think, and violent crimes are even rarer. So, be aware, but don't be scared!
5. Unstaffed Campground Office
You might think of an unstaffed campground office as an inconvenience, but it also poses a risk. An unstaffed campground is also more at risk of crime, since it’s not being monitored 24/7.
Having someone familiar with the campground and nearby area can be vitally helpful in an emergency. This is especially true if you’re a solo RVer.
Regardless of whether campground staff is available at all times, I do have a life-saving recommendation for you!
Always keep the campground address and your campsite number within reach, like on a post-it on your fridge. Plus, the address of the nearest hospital.
Having this info at your fingertips can save precious time when trying to get emergency services to your location.
We have an entire RV emergency resource guide that links to valuable information and life-saving advice. Be sure to check that out (it's free and doesn't require a download or subscription).
Additional Safety Concerns While RVing
The above are common dangers of camping wherever you travel, but there are a couple more safety things I want to leave you with. The first is a danger when driving to your campground, and the second is a danger when traveling in tornado country.
Driving an RV in Strong Winds
Generally speaking, you should avoid driving an RV in strong winds of 45 mph or more. Once winds hit around 60 mph, the wind can topple large vehicles.
RVs have a large surface area, and winds like that can tip over your vehicle. At the very least, winds at that speed can push you like waves crashing into a toddler.
I encourage you to read these Tips for Driving an RV in Strong Winds.
Camping in Tornado Country
You can’t always drive away from bad weather. That’s why you need to know tornado safety for RVers if you’re driving through or camping in tornado country.
You can click on that above link for safety information as well as read additional safety tips in How Do You Know if a Tornado is Coming?
Want to feel safer on the road? We compiled a list of safety gadgets for the most common dangers RVers & solo travelers face.
So, whether you’re a solo RVer, traveling couple, or family on the road, the following safety gadgets will help keep you safe.
It is our sincerest hope that you will carefully consider these safety gadgets (or similar). One may very well save your life or the life of another.
The ResQme keychain is a 2-1 seatbelt cutter and window breaker. This tool could save your life if you’re ever in an accident.
We’ve heard one too many stories of people being trapped in their vehicles and have seen too many RVs that have caught on fire in accidents. This tool can save you from starring in one such story.
Also, be sure to keep a roadside emergency kit in your RV!
A satellite communicator keeps you connected whenever RVing takes you off the beaten path. This ZOLEO Satellite communicator connects you in several ways at the push of a button:
- 2-way SMS text messaging & email
- Emergency SOS altering
- Check-in & Share your GPS location
It does require a monthly subscription; however, it’s money well-spent, especially if you often camp and hike in remote locations. It could save your life if you get into an accident, get lost or stranded, or get injured by getting help to you wherever you are.
Mike and Jennifer wrote these for you —
Beginners Guide to Boondocking (one of our most popular ebooks) and one of our newest ebooks, The Ultimate Guide to Free and Cheap RV Camping!
ebook #1: Beginners Guide to Boondocking
We created a 65+-page downloadable digital guide to help you understand the nuances that come with boondocking, the most common boondocking problems, and what you need to do to get your rig “boondocking-ready.”
ebook #2: The Ultimate Guide to Free and Cheap RV Camping
Buckle up because here is everything you need to know on how to find cheap or free RV camping sites in the 33-page EBOOK.