As much as we’d like to believe that when we take off in our RV, we leave our troubles behind for some much-needed rest and relaxation, this is not always the case. Murphy’s Law does not exist outside the realm of RV life. It actually enjoys jumping out at the most unexpected moments and usually on holiday weekends when repair shops are closed.
When it comes to RVing, make sure to have not only a Plan B but have tools at the ready to execute it. This means packing items other than camping comforts and preparing for uncomfortable, unexpected mishaps. Don’t head out on the open road without including these essential items in your RV emergency kit. This list is in addition to a previous article we have entitled, “Building the Best Roadside Emergency Kit.”
The fluorescent colors and reflective strips on safety vests allow the wearer to be seen by passing motorists and any emergency vehicles that may be on their way to assist. They are not only visible at night, but they can easily be spotted during the day. Wearing reflective vests helps reduce the chances of injury or a fatality on the road.
Tire Changing Kit
The three primary tools needed when changing a flat tire, whether it is on your tow vehicle or RV, include a jack, lug wrench, and spare tire. The jack’s purpose is to lift the flat tire off the ground and stabilize the vehicle as the tire is being changed. The lug wrench is used to loosen the lug nuts so the tire can be removed. The spare tire is meant to be used temporarily, a reliable means to get to a service facility.
The tools utilized should be able to be heavy-duty and durable, enough to meet or exceed the weight capacity of the vehicles. According to RV Care, Canada’s largest RV dealer network, if you need to change a tire on a towable RV, “We recommend bottle jacks for this job as they are relatively inexpensive and compact. Be sure to select one with the proper weight rating for your RV.” They suggest using a tire changing wheel cock for larger RVs. “ If your fully-loaded, triple axle, 45’ trailer gets a flat tire, jacking that weight can be a real challenge! With a tire changing wheel chock, all you need to do is place the small end of the chock under the closest good tire and drive up, and you’re ready to change the tire.”
If changing a tire on a large RV is not your strong suit, having a reliable roadside service like Coach-Net is always a good addition to any tire changing kit. Coach-Net’s Hazard Protection is an upgrade to your roadside assistance plan. This tire and wheel protection program includes tire repair and replacement at no additional cost to you. The cost of tires, mounting, valve systems, balancing, sales tax, and labor charges are all taken care of by Coach-Net.
Solar-Powered Phone Charger
Many people like taking their RV into the wilderness, away from developed campgrounds and services. Unfortunately, some RVers have found themselves in predicaments where they have run out of gas, or their vehicle/RV battery has died. In these cases, having a solar-powered charger can keep the one item you can use to call for help charged up.
Most solar-powered chargers will power your phone while it is charging in the sun. This allows you to keep a constant charge on your phone. When deciding on a solar-powered charger, make sure that it is powerful enough to charge your phone. Anything rated over 7 watts is adequate. This may mean a more expensive charger, but purchasing a cheaper device could equal longer charging times.
Lithium Jump Starter
When a car/RV battery dies, it’s always convenient when there is another vehicle around the corner to help. However, what if this isn’t the case, and you are boondocking miles from the closest town? A lithium jump starter takes the place of a rescue vehicle because it is the help.
Lithium jump starters are relatively compact. They can be small enough to fit in your glove compartment or as big as a small suitcase. Don’t let its size fool you. Within seconds, starters like the NOCO Boost HD GB150 4000 Amp 12-Volt Ultra Safe Portable Lithium Car Battery Jump Starter can power up a dead battery in a vehicle with up to a 10 L gasoline or diesel engine. A jump starter can come with many bells and whistles like built-in USB ports to charge other devices, an air compressor to inflate tires, and a high-powered light for night repairs.
Cell service is not always the most reliable when you are traveling around the country. Some travel apps offer the option to download area maps to refer to if you do lose service at any point. But if your technology dies and you are in an area with no cell service, it’s time to pull out those trusty maps. These include updated road atlases and even topographic maps if you are boondocking off-the-grid.
Aside from bringing your GPS technology, Gander RV and Outdoors recommends packing maps and an analog compass as a back-up. They note, “If you happen to be in cold weather, you might find that your GPS or other electronic devices don’t work properly. While being careful of where you store them can help, it’s still a limitation maps and compasses just don’t have.”
The company also mentions that it’s not enough to own an analog compass. You need to know how to use it in conjunction with a topo map. For novice users, they recommend first learning the difference between magnetic north and true north.
Your emergency toolkit should have items that will help repair most areas of your RV. Heavy repair work is not the intention. The tools should be used to fix just enough to allow you to get to a nearby service center. The following inventory, compiled by Parked in Paradise, lists maintenance and repair tools to pack in your kit.
Fire extinguishers differ in their size and type. The extinguisher will be labeled with the kinds of fires it is designed to put out as well as what types of fires it must not be used to extinguish. RV fire extinguishers can be labeled with a combination of Class A, B, and C ratings. The following photo explains each rating.
The National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) requires that RVs must store a B: C rated fire extinguisher by the exit. However, it is a good idea to keep multiple units in your RV, more specifically in the kitchen area, bedroom, and in an unlocked outside compartment.
Extra Fuel Canister
Running out of fuel is more of an annoyance than an emergency. However, if you are on the shoulder of a busy highway or miles from civilization with no cell service, your predicament can quickly turn into an emergency. Having a full fuel canister or two always does the trick to get you that few miles to a station to fill up and continue on your journey.
Here are a few tips for safely storing fuel cans on the go. First, make sure to store the gas or diesel fuel in its proper container (red can for gasoline and yellow can for diesel). Make sure the container is sealed completely, in a secure area to prevent tipping, and keep it in a well-ventilated area, not inside any vehicle or RV. As a bonus, use no-spill cans to make pouring mess-free.
Digital Copy of Important Documents
Emergencies of any proportion usually do not allow much time to gather everything we want to take. In a pinch, we’ll usually grab what is closest to us, and that is most likely our phone. Before embarking on an RV adventure, make it a point to gather all of your important paperwork and take pictures or scan copies of them. Hopefully, you’ll never have the need to pull them out in the event of an emergency, but if that is the case, you’ll have all of your information (as well as information of each member of your traveling crew) easily accessible.
Documents to record on your device include driver’s license, auto insurance, registration, and license plates. Take it a step further and scan copies of prescriptions, health insurance cards, a list of doctors, and emergency contacts.
Bonus: A Priceless Essential in your RV Emergency Kit
Every RVer should have a quality, reliable roadside assistance plan like those offered through Coach-Net. As a Coach-Net member, you can request roadside assistance 24/7, and you will be sure to get help as soon as possible. We are here to improve your RV experience one adventure at a time. Visit us at coach-net.com to learn more about membership options or to renew your plan.
About The Author: Levi Henley
Levi Henley and his wife, Natalie, have been full-time RVers for over 5 years. They have also been Coach-Net customers for the same amount of time. They travel and workcamp around the U.S. in their 26-foot Itasca Sunstar motorhome with their two cats. They write for multiple RV-related publications and recently co-wrote “Seasonal Workamping for a Living: How We Did It.” You can follow their adventures on the road at henleyshappytrails.com
Ralph W. ~ “Thank god for Coach-Net! Your RV techs immediately helped us with our first power outage and low house battery issue after hours. Their level of knowledge and expertise easily walked us through the steps to resolve our situation. With all the different RV’s out there, the techs seemed to specifically know ours inside and out. Thanks, Coach-Net!!!”