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Kids on Board
When children join your RV life, everything changes. You need all the usual parenting precautions indoors and out, plus additional hazards unique to the RV itself, highway travel, and campgrounds.
You travel at 55 mph. That means that age-appropriate seat belts, car seats or booster seats are a must underway, no matter whether the child is in a passenger seat, in bed taking a nap, or sitting on the sofa playing video games. My own rule is to buckle up before starting the engine. Nobody unbuckles until we’re at a full stop.
No matter how brief or urgent, no potty breaks or trips to the refrigerator are permitted in a moving RV. Also, it’s illegal for passengers to ride in a trailer under tow, seat belts or no.
Just as it's dangerous to leave a child in a hot car or alone in the house, it's dangerous in an RV.
You’ll be camping in different places every night so safety drills have to be re-tuned for each new locale. For example, most families who live in houses designate a spot where everyone assembles if they have to exit a house fire or other emergency. When traveling by RV you’ll need to choose a different assembly spot in each campground.
Here are just some of the things to consider when you are a woman traveling alone with children:
* In addition to the assembly spot mentioned above, you may need a different method for summoning help in each campground. You’ll grab your cell phone, of course, but there may be times when you don’t get a signal. Review alternatives such as a pay phone, call station, ranger station or campground host.
* One set of rules applies if you’re the legal parent with full authority over the child. Other other rules apply if you’re the grandmother, aunt, or family friend. Before traveling with a child who isn’t your own, get temporary medical power of attorney from the parents in case of emergency. It’s likely too that you won’t be permitted to cross any national border, even if you’re the custodial parent, without written permission from the court or the other parent or both.
* Bring a copy of the child’s birth certificate for proof of citizenship.
* Have occasional fire drills so children know all ways to escape fromthe RV–not just when it’s standing upright but if it’s on its roof or side after an accident. In addition to doors you use every day there is probably an emergency exit such as a break-out window or roof hatch.
* All families have rules about the stranger danger, but a reminder is needed in campgrounds where it’s all one big family. Don't be lulled into a false sense of security. Children shouldn’t wander around areas alone and should never go alone into the restrooms or another RV, tent, cabin or even the screen room.
* Campsites in RV parks are usually close quarters and pets can get nervous if kids appear to intrude their territory. Teach children not to approach pets. As for other animals, it’s unwise (and usually illegal in state and national parks) to feed wild creatures.
Thinking of going full-timing with children? That's just one of the A to Z topics covered in Living Aboard Your RV, a Guide to the Full-time Life on Wheels. See it in paperback or ebook at http://amzn.to/29XFEkq