If you own an RV, you may face an unexpected danger that could turn your motorhome into a deathtrap: a carbon monoxide leak.
Carbon monoxide is both odorless and colorless — in fact, it doesn’t have any natural irritants that can alert you to its presence. One of the sources of this deadly poison is the burning of fossil fuels in a motorhome’s engine or generator — a defective exhaust system, damaged generator or improperly designed ventilation can end up piping the gas directly into the RV.
It’s important to note that even among those who survive carbon monoxide poisoning, two out of three with severe exposure go on to develop chronic neurological problems.
Here are some tips to protect yourself while in your RV:
1. Know the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning. Sometimes exposure is quickly fatal, but most of the time leaks are small enough to cause other symptoms first. Some of the common symptoms are confusion, nausea, chest pain, rapid breathing, headache, fatigue and dizziness. A lot of people complain that they feel like they have the flu. If you notice that you feel better after you’re out of the motorhome for a little while and start to get sicker when you’re back inside, suspect carbon monoxide.
2. If you have a propane stove, water heater or other appliance inside your motorhome, watch for flames that are yellow instead of blue. A yellow flame indicates that there isn’t sufficient oxygen in the area. That should lead you to suspect a carbon dioxide leak.
3. Have your motorhome’s exhaust system, generator and chassis inspected by a qualified professional between outings and after any event that could have damaged those systems, like traveling over rough terrain or getting a tow.
4. Don’t operate a damaged generator or sleep with it in operation. If you do have the generator in operation, leave a roof vent open to make sure that there’s a supply of fresh air available.
5. Get a carbon monoxide detector and install it. Make sure that the batteries are checked before you start a trip and follow the manufacturer’s instructions about how long you can keep one before you replace it.
In many cases, carbon monoxide poisoning in motorhomes is the result of a design defect. If you believe this is the case in your situation, an attorney can provide advice.
Source: FMCA, “Avoiding Carbon Monoxide Poisoning,” accessed May 09, 2017