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Good Sam Roadside Assistance


When Your RV Shocks You


Have you ever touched something in your Fifth Wheel RV and gotten a small shock?
Sometimes it is just a slight tingling sensation and sometimes it is a little more.
If so then read on because that might have been a warning of a severe problem that few RV owners are aware of and in this case knowledge is what will keep you and any other occupants of the RV safe if that happens again.

Many of us plug our RV into park power or power at home with the trust that where we are plugging into is safe, has been wired correctly and is free from any deterioration. This unfortuately is not always the case.

If a RV site has an incorrectly wired power box or deterioration has occurred in the power box or to the wiring in your RV, a situation can exist whereby your RV can become electrified. Because the RV is sitting on rubber tires which act as insulators, it takes someone standing on the ground and then touching the RV to get a shock. If it has been raining and a person standing outside on wet ground touches metal on the RV (like the stairs or the door handle), the resulting shock can be substantial.

When an RV becomes electrified, one would hope that a circuit breaker would trip or a surge protector connected to the power box would trip or alert us to a problem. This is not always the case and and electrified RV can exist whereby there is no indication of the problem other than the shock one gets when touching a door handle or other metal surface. This can be a small shock or it can be deadly depending on the circumstances.

Is this an isolated condition that actually occurs very infrequently?. No. Almost 1 out of 5 RV owners say they have experienced a small shock when touching metal in their RV at some point in their travels. Had circumstance been different for one of those RV owners, like rain or water outside the RV, that small shock could have become significantly more dangerous.

Rather than go into all of the technical details about how the electrified RV happens, we will provide you with a very easy solution to test for this condition which does not involve messing with the power box or having any knowledge of electrical components.

If you touch something in your RV and you feel a slight shock, understand immediately that you have a potential problem that needs to be dealt with right away. That slight shock means a potentially dangerous condition exists in your RV. There is a possibility that you are plugged into a faulty power box or your RV wiring has a problem and your RV has become electrified to some degree.

Do not think that if there were an electrical problem a circuit breaker would trip or something will warn you as this is not always the case. In some situations not even an expensive voltage tester would alert you to the problem, but the Volt Alert will. For more in-depth info, see the technical info link at the bottom of this page.



Let all family members know to tell you if they feel any small shock when in the RV on a camping trip. Many people think it is just their imagination when they feel a small shock the first time and ignore it.

Here is what to do.
First get everyone out of the RV as a safety precaution, including pets.
Remember that when you are standing on the ground and then touch the RV, the risk of a greater shock is higher. If the ground is wet outside the RV then the shock risk goes even higher and can be fatal. So once outside do not touch any metal on the RV.

Have a Volt Alert available at all times. Store one in the RV or truck where you can easily find it.

Get your Volt Alert (This has been determined to be the best unit to test with - available from this link) and:

1. Hold it firmly in the palm of your hand - not with your fingers. Your hand must have as much contact with the unit as possible for it to give a correct reading.

2. Make sure you are ouside the RV and standing on the ground when you test. Having your feet on the ground is important to get a correct reading. If you are in the RV and test, the RV wheels will act as insulation and you can get an incorrect "safe" reading.

Touch the unit tip close to or onto any metal surface outside the RV. Metal stairs or the hitch works well. If the unit shows red then there is a problem. Switch the site power box circuit breaker off and pull your power adapter out of the site power box to disconnect all power to the RV.

Notify the RV park that there is a electrical problem and either move to another site or wait for the problem to be fixed.

In some cases the electrical problem could be a result of deteriorated wiring or a fault with your RV. If this is the case then you will get the fault everytime you test no matter where you are plugged in. In this case an electrician will need to determine where the problem is in the RV and then repair it. Do not use your RV until the problem is repaired.

The most important thing to know about electrical shocks is that it does not take much of a shock to send ones heart into fibrillation. Don't risk it. Get the cheap test unit and carry it with your RV at all times.

Be aware that feeling a small shock in the RV and ignoring it could result in a much bigger shock should it rain or the ground outside the RV become wet and someone reaches up off the ground and touches metal on the RV.

Depending how much you travel, there is a very good chance that you will experience a faulty power box at some point. Keep the above information in mind and know what to do when it happens.

If you would like a more technical in-depth explanantion of how an RV becomes electrified here is a link.

 


 
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