Break Point!

Volume 1, Issue 6 View the Archives August, 1998
Playing it Safe While You Are Away
Safety Experiencing the Great Outdoors
Recreational Vehicles: Home Away From Home
Prevention Web Sites of the Month
Next Month in Injury Prevention

Playing it Safe While You Are Away

Kathy O'Day
Loyola University Burn and Shock Trauma Institute, Injury Prevention Program

August is Vacation Safety month. This issue will deal with some travel safety issues. Whether you plan to travel by car, RV. airplane, or train, safety is an important concideration. This month Breakpoint will be looking at RV. Safety and Camping Safety.

When thinking about a vacation, all thoughts turn to fun, relaxation and "getting away from it all". Lists are prepared to help you remember all of the important things you will need on your trip. One list that seldom gets written is safety reminders. Our attention is often drawn towards having fun and relaxing. Keeping safety in mind when planning a trip will ensure a good time for all.

Break Point is produced by Loyola University, Burn and Shock Trauma Institute Injury Prevention Program. Please call us at (708) 327-2455 with any comments or questions.

Safety Experiencing the Great Outdoors

Playgrounds are a fundamental part of the childhood experience. They should be a safe area where children can burn off energy and play. Many of us have fond memories of playing with our friends in the Neighborhood Park or at recess from school. Unfortunately, more than 200,000 children are treated in emergency rooms each year for injuries associated with playground equipment. Most of these injuries occur when children fall from the equipment onto the ground. Other hazards include impact by swings and other moving equipment, colliding with stationary equipment, and contact with such hazards as sharp edges, hot surfaces and playground debris.

Camping can be an inexpensive way to vacation. It can also be a way to get away from daily pressures and get back to nature. Whether you are an experienced camper or a novice, fire safety while camping is essential. Thousands of acres of woodlands are burned each year from careless behavior. For years we have seen Smoky the Bear telling us how to prevent forest fires. Many people are burned each year due to carelessness around campfires. When starting your trip keep in mind a few fire safety tips:

  • Keep your tent away from your campfire. Pitch your tent upwind.
  • Make sure the tent is made of flame-retardant fabric. Most of the newer tent materials are flame resistant yet, keep in mind a tent that is older or has not been used for awhile could easily catch on fire.
  • Never leave a campfire unattended. Sudden gusts of wind could come up while you are away and spread the fire.
  • Build your campfire a safe distance from your campsite, away from hanging branches, steep slopes, rotten stumps or logs, dry grass and leaves.
  • When camping in state or county parks be aware of the local laws and regulations regarding open fires. Campfires are often allowed in designated areas only.
  • Drown the campfire with water. Make sure all embers; coals and sticks are wet. Make sure the fire is completely extinguished. Cover the fire with water and then with dirt. Many of the burn injuries are a result of campfires are from campers stepping into or falling onto the hot embers in the dark.
  • A flame or any other heating device should never be used inside a tent. Use a battery-operated device to provide light.
  • Always have a good first aid kit, which includes a snakebite kit.

Recreational Vehicles: Home Away From Home

Many people are discovering the pleasure of enjoying their leisure time with recreational vehicles. RV's provide a way to see the country or vacation without giving up some of the simple pleasures of home.

The safe operation of a RV has many special considerations. Driving a RV differs from driving a passenger car. An RV handles differently than a passenger car in relation to visibility, braking safely space relation, and lane changing. There are many types of recreational vehicles on the market. They are classified into several categories: Conventional travel trailers, Fifth-wheel travel trailers, camping trailers, motor homes, van campers and conversions and truck campers. All types of RV's offer space not afforded to them in a passenger car and vary in luxury and performance.

When driving any moving vehicle, safety should be your primary consideration. Some of the differences with a RV should be well thought through before embarking on a trip:

  • RV height- Most RV's are taller and awareness of road clearances under bridges and low-lying tree branches should be determined prior to the start of your trip. Look at the owner's manual to find out the dimensions of your RV and plan your route accordingly.
  • Using side-mounted mirrors- Make sure the mirrors are positioned properly. Practice using the mirrors to back up and get accustomed to the "feel" of using the mirrors while driving.
  • Keeping in mind the increased size and weight make maneuvering a RV more difficult. Breaking times increase with the size of the vehicle. Maintain a safe distance from the car in front of you. Make any lane changes slowly. A rapid lane change could cause the RV to lean too far and tip.
  • Safety belts save lives. Make sure all the passengers in the RV have safety belts on correctly. Many motor homes can accommodate passengers in positions, including beds, which are not covered by federal laws requiring safety belts. Occupying a position not equipped with a safety belt increases the danger of injury or death in the event of a crash.

Precautions regarding fuel, electrical systems, drivetrain components should be well thought through as a pre-trip procedure and after the trip is under way:

  • Taking a few minutes to walk around the RV each time you stop for gas or rest. Check the tire inflation and check for leaking fluids
  • Check for liquid propane (LP) leaks. LP gas cannot be seen by drops on the pavement but, the unmistakable odor it gives off will warn the operator of a leak. If a leak is detected shut off the gas flow at the tank until the cause of the leak can be corrected.
  • Keep a checklist of safety equipment needed in case of emergencies handy:
    1. First-aid kit
    2. Flashlight
    3. Fire Extinguishers- one in each unit and the tow vehicle
    4. Flares or reflectors
    5. Tool kit including a Jack

For more information on Recreational Vehicle safety and to order the pamphlets listed below, please write to:

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
U.S. Department of Transportation
Media and Marketing Division, NTS-21
400 7th Street, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20590
Fax: (202) 493-2062

Recreational Vehicle Tire Care and Safety Guide
This booklet provides information about campers, trailers and how to care for other forms of recreational vehicles. Hints on how to weigh your vehicle, consequences of overloading and importantance of maintaining the proper tire inflation pressure are also included. 4" x 9", 20 pages.
Item Number Format Year Audience
8P0006 Booklet 1995 Consumer, General Public
Uniform Tire Quality Grading
This pamphlet informs the consumer about what to look for when shopping for new tires. It also answers some common questions consumers ask about tire grades and traction. Two color, 4" x 9", 5 panel.
Item Number Format Year Audience
8P0007 Pamphlet 1996 Consumer, General Public

Prevention Web Sites of the Month

American Academy of Pediatrics
American Burn Association
Burn Prevention Foundation - Fire safety by recognizing and avoiding fire hazards and other burn risks
Center For Rural Emergency Medicine
Illinois Emergency Medical Services for Children
National Safety Belt Coalition - Promotes the lifesaving benefits of safety belts and child safety seats
United States Department of Transportation
United States Fire Administration - Publications and National Fire Data Center

Coming Next Month in Injury Prevention

  • Baby Safety Awareness Month
  • Children's Eye and Health Safety Month
  • National Farm Safety Week (9/20-9/26)
  • National Safety Town Week (9/20-9/26)
  • Back to School Safety

The information on the Loyola University Health System (LUHS) Web site is for educational purposes only. It is presented in summary form in order to impart general information relating to certain diseases, ailments, physical conditions and their treatments. The information provided through the LUHS Web site should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or a disease, nor is it a substitute for professional care. Should you have any health-care related questions or suspect you have a health problem, you should consult your health care provider.

@1995 - 2001 Loyola University Health System.  All rights reserved.
 Disclaimer | Terms and Conditions | Privacy Policy

Loyola University Medical Center Injury Prevention Program | Loyola University Health System | Email Site Administrator

Home | Transportation | Falls | Home and Leisure Safety | Fire/Burns | Poisons | Fire Arms | Water Safety