The Top 15 Dangers of Living in an RV
RV living is one of the most freeing lifestyles you could choose. It’s a wonderful way to live, full of adventure, peace, and experience, but it’s not a lifestyle that’s devoid of downsides.
When you live in an RV full time, there are certain dangers of RV living that you must be aware of that don’t necessarily affect you when you live in a stationary home.
In this article, we’re going to discuss the 15 dangers of living in an RV so that you can take action and prepare yourself against these potential threats, ensuring that your RV lifestyle is safe and practical.
15 Risks of Living in an RV
Any of these 15 dangers has the potential to cause serious damage to your property or health. However, most of them can be easily subverted with some commonsense safety protocol.
- Carbon Monoxide
- Excessive Dust
- Car Accidents
- Lack of Security
- Excessive EMF Exposure
- Tire Blowouts
- Varying Water Quality
- High Levels of Humidity
- Hydrogen Sulfide
- Air Quality Issues
- Help May Not Be Nearby
- Inclement Weather
Carbon monoxide or CO is a silent, odorless gas that can kill you. Obviously, having no smell and being completely invisible, there’s no way for you to detect this harmful gas on your own.
Unfortunately for anyone who lives in an RV, carbon monoxide just so happens to be a by-product of burning propane, which is the main fuel powering most appliances in RVs.
CO is so deadly that high concentrations can cause death in under five minutes and even light exposure can lead to permanent damage.
Clearly, this can lead to a health hazard. But RV manufacturers have known this, so most RVs do have CO detectors installed.
Whether yours still works or not is another question entirely!
Make sure to test your CO detector regularly, and if yours isn’t working 100%, then get a new one like this that will ensure you and your family are safe from this invisible killer.
Those propane appliances in your RV don’t just produce carbon monoxide, they’re also a fire hazard.
Cooking with open flames in such a small space means you have to be extra careful. An accident here can be far more dangerous than it might be in a full sized kitchen.
This is the reason why RVs are required to keep a fire extinguisher on board, which is one of the items mentioned on our list of essential items for full time RV living. Make sure you never get caught in your RV without one!
Of course, fire can be caused by more than just your cooking appliances. Propane heaters are another possible fire starter, in addition to the entire electrical system, which applies even more if you have solar installed.
And not to fear monger, but don’t forget about the possibility of some sort of engine fire or other mechanical fire in the drivetrain or vehicular components of your RV.
None of this is particularly likely, especially if you’re safe and follow the tips outlined in my article of the top tips for RV living, but it’s definitely a danger you should be aware of.
Dust is certainly not the most nefarious of substances, but it’s far from innocuous, and when you’re living in an RV, you’ll be dealing with more dust than the average person.
Since RVs are such small spaces that very often have open windows with ceiling fans sucking air through the whole space, dust is a near-constant issue for RV residents.
While dust isn’t going to kill you, it can have many negative health effects including respiratory irritation, respiratory infection, allergies, asthma attacks, and more.
Car accidents are always dangerous and costly, but when your RV is involved, it’s no longer just your car, it’s also your home!
That’s what makes car accidents one of the most serious risks of living in an RV. If an accident occurs, you can lose your home, vehicle, and lots of your belongings, all in one fell swoop.
Lack of Security
When you’re in a stick and brick home, there’s a certain sense of security that comes along with those solid walls.
Even though your RV has walls and they’re solid, it’s not quite the same. The relative thinness of RV walls makes you feel much closer to whatever’s going on outside.
In reality, RVs don’t offer that much security. You can make yours more secure than it comes from the lot, but it never offers the same security of a house.
Plus, you’ll often be parked in places you’re unfamiliar with, where anything can happen.
Not every RV will have this issue, but one of the risks of living in an RV with slides is pest infestations!
Bugs tend to nest in the space between the spaces around slideouts. During certain times of the year, these infestations can get out of control, leading to some serious issues inside of your home.
Unfortunately, because of where they’re located, they can be a real pain to get rid of! Your best bet is to use a natural pest killing spray like
Excessive EMF Exposure
There’s debate as to whether EMFs are truly harmful for you not. I’m no expert, so I’ll simply link to a Healthline article discussing the issue. In that article, they mention possible side effects of:
- Memory loss
- Loss of concentration
- Sleep disturbance
If EMFs do cause these effects, they’re well worth avoiding. Problem is, RVs are essentially metal boxes. Those EMFs will bounce around in your home with nowhere to go, but I suppose that’s just one of the dangers of living in an RV.
The more distance you travel in your RV, the more likely you are to encounter a blowout or flat. Similarly, the less you maintain your tires, the higher your chances of experiencing tire failure.
If you pay attention while you travel, you’ll notice that RV tire blowouts are an all too common occurrence. But if you’re diligent about keeping your tires fully inflated and in good condition, then you’ll reduce the chances of a blowout significantly.
I recommend that every RV carries a small tire inflator that can be used to top up tire pressure regularly, or get you back on the road in case of emergency.
You can find other life saving tips like carrying an inflator on my list of 20 indispensable RV living tips to make your life easier.
Varying Water Quality
One of the challenges of living in an RV full time is finding places to refill your water tanks. Your water will come from various sources, and each of them will offer different levels of quality.
It’s very possible that you end up refilling with water that’s not exactly safe, or that contains elements you’d rather not drink.
This is the very reason that an RV water filter made the list of must have items for living in an RV. A good filter will help to remove a lot of those harmful impurities, but it’s still a danger that you need to be aware of if you plan on living in an RV.
High Levels of Humidity
Humidity is a big issue inside of an RV. Even in a dry climate, you can deal with excessive amounts of condensation due to the high humidity inside your RV.
This problem is only exacerbated by humid weather conditions and climates.
Over time, the humidity and condensation can cause damage to your RV and can even lead to toxic mold.
Mold commonly grows in places with a lot of moisture, and RVs are usually very moist. As windows get covered in condensation, it begins to drip down, getting the wall panels wet.
Mold can then set in around the windows and on the wall panels.
Once you get mold, you’ll have to remove affected panels and replace them to eradicate the issue.
Mold can cause coughing, weezing, and upper respiratory tract symptoms in healthy people while exacerbating asthma symptoms in asthmatics.
I remember removing the drain plug from my shower one day and smelling a strong foul odor of rotten eggs. At first, I had no idea what the smell was, but I came to realize that it was hydrogen sulfide.
This is a rather common issue in RV gray tanks. Hydrogen sulfide is commonly referred to as sewer gas and is caused by septic conditions. It is highly dangerous, but also very easily detectable.
Potential health concerns include upset stomach, headache, weakness, irritability, apnea, dizziness, insomnia, and even coma.
Air Quality Issues
New RVs are produced with loads of chemicals. These chemicals are contained within the building materials, the adhesives, paints, and other compounds used to craft your RV, particularly the interior where you stay.
While these chemicals aren’t going to kill you, it’s still never recommended that you expose yourself to high levels of formaldehyde, VOCs, and other harmful compounds used in the construction of RVs.
It can take years for a new RV to completely off gas, but purchasers of second hand RVs will rarely have to deal with such issues.
A good solution for your RV air quality issues is to utilize an air purifier. I prefer a USB-powered air purifier since they’re much easier to power in an RV.
Help May Not Be Nearby
For RVers who park primarily in RV parks and campgrounds, you’ll always be near enough to other people that this won’t be an issue. However, RV lifers who like to travel off the beaten path and park off grid aren’t always within reach of help if something goes wrong.
Because of this, it’s essential that you’re always fully prepared whenever you decide to park off grid or in any rural location. You can read the comprehensive RV off grid living guide to make sure you’re familiar with the ins and outs of parking your RV off grid.
In the backcountry, preventing a problem in the first place is always your best line of defense.
One thing that’s often overlooked before living in an RV is just how much the weather can affect your life.
When the sun doesn’t shine, you can run out of power real quick.
If you’re parked in the dirt off the paved road and a few days of thunderstorms hit, you could be stuck in the mud until conditions clear.
Driving is more dangerous in the rain. Trees and large limbs are more likely to fall on your RV.
There are many hazards inclement weather can bring, and all of them seem to affect you much more directly when you live in an RV.
Though there are a few dangers associated with RV living, I wouldn’t say it’s an inherently dangerous lifestyle. The few risks of living in an RV are not greater than the dangers you face in other lifestyles, they’re just different.
Luckily, you can fortify yourself against problems like the 15 we just discussed by being prepared. Check out this list of must have items for full time RV living to see what sorts of things you need to prepare yourself against the dangers of living in an RV! And don’t forget to prepare yourself mentally by reading our comprehensive guide to RV off grid living. It’s full of vital information for anyone living in an RV off grid.