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safety spotlight kids and RVs

Safe Travels: Kids and RVs

Katherine Hutka joined Ana Almeida to discuss how to safely make summer memories and enjoy the great outdoors when travelling with an RV or trailer. 

Watch the clip here. 

What should families know about RV safety on the road? 
not all RVs are created equal – there are different types and classes of RVs and some are safer than others when it comes to transporting children.  

Canadian motor vehicle safety standards are there to ensure that classes of vehicles designed for passengers must be reinforced to withstand the force of a crash.  Many RVs belong to a class of vehicle that does not have to meet the same standards of occupant protection, and this includes the standards for seating in the back. You may find a seat belt or even lower anchors in the seats of a traditional motor home, however, these belts or anchors are often attached to a wooden bench and during a crash, the wooden frame which holds the seats could break apart and cause injury to passengers.

A traditional motor home would also have a kitchen and wooden cabinets that have been known to break apart during a crash and fly around and injure passengers in a collision.

What do families need to know to keep their children safe when travelling in an RV?
We know that parents and families are looking for a way to get away from the everyday.  Most parents know that it’s not safe for a child to lay down in a bed in a traditional RV while driving down the highway, but they might not consider the risk of children buckled into a bench that is in front of a dinette table.

Some parents may have the misconception that bigger means safer – but that is not always the case.

Are RVs known to crash?
We also know that RVs have high sides and may be difficult to drive during high wind conditions or when making sharp turns.

What can parents do to reduce the risk to their children when travelling in an RV this summer?

The safest way to travel with children in an RV is to choose one you can tow behind or attach to a passenger vehicle.  These are sometimes called a fifth-wheel or a camper trailer or a truck camper. This way, the children can ride safely buckled in the right car seat or booster seat in the back seat of a passenger vehicle.

What can a family do if they have already rented a traditional motor home?

When there is no other choice but to use a standard large RV, (Class A, B or C ), instead of towing the family vehicle, another parent or family member can drive the family vehicle with the children safely secured alongside the RV.

Are there any other safety concerns about RVs?

Never leave small children unsupervised in an RV – and be aware of the risks for older children as well.

Kids can be more at risk in an RV because the surfaces are often lower and may be easier to reach for small children. For example, hot water taps and stoves can be easier to access so children are at risk for scalds and burns. There may also be unexpected climbing opportunities, where a toddlers or preschooler may be able to climb from a bench to a counter or stove or other hazard.

Some other things to watch for include loose cords, tie downs or other strangulation hazards, heaters , electrical outlets, knives, chemicals, propane and even medicationswhich are often easier to access in an RV as well. 

Whenever you are parking or moving an RV, make sure all children are safely bucked or are kept safe by another adult away from the vehicles. 

What can parents and caregivers do to prevent injury?
Parents and caregivers can install gates, outlet covers and child resistant locks on cupboards just like at home.  Consider using a travel crib or playpen as a safe space when you need to cook or cannot directly supervise a baby or toddler. Never leave a chilhd alone in an RV. 

Resources – where can I find more information?

You can call Transport Canada to determine the safety of passenger seating in your RV or motor home.

Pro Car Seat Safety has compiled great resources about transporting children safely in RVs. You can find their link in the helpful links section of this page. 



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