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Traveling and enjoying the outdoors in an affordable camper is a great way to spend a few months on the road. But is it safe to live in a camper?

Have you ever felt vulnerable when staying at an RV park or out in nature? What if something goes wrong? Will emergency services find me, and will the police be in time if I’m robbed? I constantly ask myself these questions when I’m staying in my camper.

Living in a camper is as safe as living in the city. But living in a camper for extended periods will require more attention to maintenance. You’ll need to be more self-reliant and be prepared for unforeseen events such as crime, medical assistance, and weather events.

Living in a camper is very exciting, and moving around is a significant advantage. Still, there are ways to improve your safety and the safety of fellow campers. But what does being safe and self-reliant in a camper actually entail. And what threats are hidden inside a camper that can be lethal?

I have spent numerous years living in campers and traveling the country. I have seen a hand full of incidents and have been the victim too. But none of these will ever make me pack away the travel maps. Living in a camper is the life I enjoy.



Is It Dangerous To Live In A Camper?

Enjoying the outdoors is an attraction to many Americans. It is cost-effective, and parks and recreation areas are abundant. But, as with most things in this realm, danger can be lurking just around the corner. This can be dangerous due to crime, wildlife, nature, or the weather. The best advice I can give anyone wanting to enjoy nature by living in a camper is to be prepared for anything.

What Safety Hazards Are Lurking In a Camper?

Campers are first and foremost designed to be for recreation. This means short occupation periods in campgrounds or next to your favorite fishing spot. Many people have extended their stays in the camper by many years.   So it is possible to make this your home.

A Camper's small and confined spaces can become a hindrance. Spending many hours outside is not always possible when staying in a camper. The camper will need to have the same creature comforts as a brick and mortar home.

Campers usually only have a tiny refrigerator and freezer, if at all; thus, only small amounts of food can be chilled and frozen at a time. The stove is either a single or double burner, and the propane tanks are small as they need to be low weight. This means that staying off the grid for a prolonged time will be shortened, and you will need to refill.

The wiring and plumbing in a camper are not designed to handle prolonged wear and tear of full-time occupancy. Thus, expect breakdowns or, worst case, a fire!

Ventilation is poor in even the most top-end campers. Some campers will come with Carbon Monoxide detectors. Don’t let this fool you because it may already be too late if the alarm sounds. Investing in low-level detectors is a must for an early warning system.

All of the items I have mentioned may seem easy to live with, but they all pose a danger. Refrigerators may leak or have faulty wiring, causing fires. The stove may develop a gas leak and “Boom.” Poor ventilation may cause suffocation.

So be prepared for the everyday dangers that a camper may pose. Regular inspection and maintenance must be done more regularly. Embrace technology and install modern detectors and fire extinguishers.

How Safe Are RV Campgrounds?

Campgrounds and RV parks are generally safe areas with very little to no criminal history. But this is not to say it is not there. Being amongst fellow campers gives a sense of safety and security and a real community feel to all at the park.

So, when leaving your camper unattended while going to the pool or recreation areas, simply ask a neighbor to keep an eye out. But also, don’t take chances; instead, follow these essential safety guides when leaving your camper.

  • Always lock the camper. Invest in sturdy aftermarket locks
  • Pack away all coolers, chairs, tables, and loose items
  • Keep curtains drawn in the camper to prevent prying eyes
  • Lock up Propane tanks with a chain and padlock
  • Keep valuables in a safe place
  • Install an alarm system
  • Ensure the tow vehicle is locked

Another good rule to follow is getting all the RV Park’s safety information before booking a spot. Find out if the campgrounds have 24-hour security patrols and security cameras and what type of perimeter fencing encloses the park.

Is It Safe To Boondock With A Camper?

One of the many advantages of towing a camper is that you can simply pull off the beaten path and set up camp. Boondocking, on average, is just as safe as a campground. It is not often that a criminal will drive around looking for a camper along the road to break into.

Burglars are opportunistic, so they might have a peek if they encounter a camper. But criminals also know that campers do not have as many valuables as an ordinary home. So be on the safe side and minimize the odds of being a crime statistic by applying some of my boondocking rules.

  • Find an area that has cellphone coverage. This may be a life-saving choice if help may have to be called.
  • Arm the alarm in the camper while sleeping or take a dog with you. These alarms will give you the upper hand if someone ventures too close to your property.
  • Keep the jacks of the camper up and be prepared to drive off. Not having the jack down while sleeping in a camper may sound unsafe, as it is not the safest option. But that said, instead, be ready to drive off than having to run into the wilderness.
  • Set the stage so that it appears that there are more people in your party. This can simply be done by setting up one or two extra chairs outside or leaving extra shoes out to give the impression of more occupants.
  • Use a GPS and always know your current location. Boondocking may seem like heading out without a travel plan, but knowing where you are and how far you are from civilization is crucial.
  • Invest in a Spot Messenger. This little device will send an emergency message to family, friends, or emergency services when there is no cell coverage. I personally have a Spot Messenger devise that goes where I dare to go.
  • Self Defense Spray. Carry some self-defense spray, Taser, or any other form of self-defense tool on you or within reach.

Does The Weather Affect Safety In A Camper?

We can control where we set up camp, but we can not control the weather. Keep up to date with the weather in the vicinity that you are traveling through. Campers are fine in light to moderate weather conditions like rain and light hail. But do not expect the camper to fair too well during a hurricane or flood.

The advantage of a camper is that you can drive off and find an area that can shield you from the weather. In the dry season, be on the lookout for wildfires in high fire areas. Trying to outrun a fire with a camper does not sound like something I would like to add to my bucket list.

So stay informed, chat to RVers in the area, listen to the radio and use all available information to stay safe.

How To Be Prepared When Living And Boondocking In A Camper

Traveling the country in a camper means the freedom to travel anywhere at any time. This may put you in greater danger as you will be isolating yourself from the modern world. If you become sick while boondocking in an isolated area, how are the emergency services going to locate you?

Giving someone directions over the phone may sound easy, but they may not be as accurate as GPS coordinates. Even when a Spot Messenger is used, it will take time for the services to find you. For this reason, being prepared and self-reliant is vital.

Have a complete first aid kit in the camper. Keep it well stocked with the necessities and add in the extras such as hay fever medication and antihistamine.

Fire is a real threat in a camper, so add an extra fire extinguisher and have another one in the tow vehicle. This will assist with fighting the fire from the outside. But remember, if you start feeling overwhelmed by the fire, get out and move to a safe area.

Hidden Gases In A Camper

Camper manufacturers have used materials that can be harmful to humans in the past. But as RVs and camper prices increase, manufacturers are now returning to using the cheaper solvents and glues. This is a real problem that can affect new and older campers. So if you are living in a camper for an extended period, you may be at risk of being over-exposed to these gases.

The primary substance to be wary of is formaldehyde, the liquid used for embalming. Formaldehyde is commonly used as a glue to bond wood and synthetics together. In this state, it is safe, but when the camper is standing in the hot sun for hours, it breaks down and releases toxic gas.

Formaldehyde has a very distinctive and notable smell, and your eyes will begin to tear up. In this event, do not enter the camper but rather walk away. The danger is when there is good ventilation in the camper, and the smell is not easily detected, be on the lookout for the following symptoms.

Symptoms of ingesting formaldehyde are:

  • Skin Irritations
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Irritation of the throat, eye, and nose
  • Breathing difficulties

Contact a medical expert if you experience any of these symptoms while living in the camper. Most RV and camper dealerships will have a gas meter to detect if there are trace amounts of formaldehyde present.