Why You Should Know How The Emergency Exit Windows Work
We’ve never really given much thought to those red handles on our RV bedroom window, yet, somehow we knew it’s the emergency exit window. And that’s it, that’s as far as our curiosity or knowledge went…until now.
Fleetwood asked us to make a series of RV Quick Tips videos and one of them was How to use the Emergency Exit Window. At first we balked.
Out of all of the topics we could cover you want us to talk about the emergency exit window?
But their rebuttal was legit.
They pointed out that it’s important for customers to learn how to use the features of the RV, but most importantly people should know how to use the safety features fo their RV. We humbly agreed and then thought to ourselves…
I suppose it’s fairly irresponsible of us to be trapsing around the country all this time and yet we’ve never actually tested those safety features like the emergency exits or fire extinguishers (we’ll have to cover that another day).
So, without further ado, here is the all important How to Use Your RV Emergency Exit Windows:
Super simple right? Honestly, before we tested the window exit, I had no idea of what to expect. I didn’t know the window was on a hinge, I figured it just popped out (which had me a little afraid to open it and accidentally drop it on the ground). I also had never considered what a big jump it would be from the height of the window to the ground. These are all things I wouldn’t want circulating around in my head in the event of an actual emergency.
Yep, I am the weirdo that would be concerned about breaking a window and having to replace it while the rest of the rig is going up in smoke!?!
Good news is: now we’ve tested, had a trial run and feel confident that should the unthinkable happen, we would quickly spring right into action!
Have you tested, or even thought to test, any of your RV safety features? Tell us your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.
Disclaimer: We are not safety experts. The purpose of this post is a simple demonstration of how the windows in our RV open and a reminder that we should all test our safety exits, strategies and equipment. As always, do your own research and stay safe out there! We created this video for Fleetwood to educate new RV owners, we think its pretty cool they want people to know how to use their new motorhomes.
Operating the exit window in a brightly lit and well controlled environment is very different from when you haven’t just woken up to confusion, blinding and toxic smoke, heat, coughing, perhaps even other people screaming for help in the dark. You will likely have no light, no power, completely blind, and only seconds to exit the toxic atmosphere. This is a horrible picture to paint but it is the very situation that one will encounter when faced with a fire in a confined space.
I suggest you practice with a mask over your eyes while holding your breath. That will give you a better idea of what to expect. As a professional firefighter we train in very hostile environments. Please don’t underestimate how dangerous this situation can be.
I can’t figure out how to open the emergency exit windows in our 2004
Beaver Motorcoach, Is there someone out there that can give me an idea how I get it open? I an slide open the window, but it doesn’t seen big enough to slide out.
I had problem trying to unlock our double locked camper door which uses same key on both locks. The deadbolt lock was the one not turning and releasing so I decided to take out window screws on the emergency window then I figured out to get in it but had to unlatch the latches. I took my kitchen step stool out and once had window propped open got in across the bunk and unlocked the door. Wow what and experience, but it will work don’t want to tell you how thinking how secure is your RV if a soon to be 67 year old housewife can get entry.
HI Nikki and Jason, Thanks for all the good info and tips. My hubby and I are planning on selling our home and buying an RV in the Spring and trying the full time rv living. We are Canadians and plan on exploring the US. My question is about safety. We are worried that we will be more of a target with a Canadian license plate. Have you guys ever had any issues with thieves? I am thinking especially while boondocking, that we would be easy targets. Everyone we talk to says we should have a gun, and that is something I do not want. Just wondering if you had any input.
The short answer is no. We talk about saftey here: https://www.gonewiththewynns.com/boondock-free-camp
Mary Ann Snider
Two members of our FMCA chapter were killed in a RV accidenr/fire along with a mother and two year old daughter two years ago. According to the family, our friends were found at their emergency exit. They survived the accident but not the fire that forced them to try and use their emergency exit. We do not believe they had checked to see if the exit opened and practiced using it.
During the past two years my husband and I have given several seminars on RV safety including how to get out of the exit. I also write safety articles for national publications. The majority of people we speak with have never opened their exit or did so several years ago and assume it will always open. Some RV firemen at a fire station told me they have never tried opening their exit. What is Plan B if your window won’t open during a fire?
I had difficulty getting out of the exit because I need knee replacement surgery. My husband cut out a piece of PVC pipe so it fits over the window frame. He can pull me out on a blanket although this can result in injury to both of us. He also built a fire ladder for our rig.
You are wrong if you think this can’t happen to you. If only we had practiced opening the window and trying to get it, our friends might be alive today.
Thank you for sharing such a personal experience Mary Ann.
Mary Ann, that is such a tragic story but one that reminds us to be cautious and be prepared. If you have any links to the safety seminars or articles I know I would love to see them as I am sure others would too.
Can you provide a picture of the ladder your husband built for the emergency window. We are in a Georgetown 38′ and it is a long way to the ground. Thanks
That is our handy ladder that we use for all sorts of stuff around the RV. It’s in our store under RV Gear: https://www.gonewiththewynns.com/product/xtend-climb-785p-aluminum-telescoping-ladder-type-i-professional-series-15-5-foot
Thank you for the video. I have a question about personal safety.
How do you handle safey with boondocking? Meaning how do you plan to handle animal issues such as bears?? Also, I am interested in personal safety when traveling in an RV.
Great questions Tina, these are topics we have not yet covered. We’ll add your requests to our long list for future posts. Thanks for sharing.
Ref the No~Shock~Zone comment above, I just published my first eBook on RV Electrical Safety at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00L2DWBD8
Let me know if you would like a copy to review for your readers. You don’t need a Kindle to read it since there are free Kindle readers for most any iPad or Tablet as well as any PC or Mac computer.
Thanks for sharing Mike.
Nice overview. Have you seen any emergency windows that can be opened for airflow? Like maybe with a popout screen or something (obviously still needs to be safe for exit).
I haven’t but then again I obviously hadn’t been paying much attention to emergency exit windows until recently.
Yes I would like to have the airflow during the day
Hi Nikki, I thought it was a great video on the emergency window.
I’d like to see so e videos on personal safety. I’m a lone, adorable 😉 female, that will be settig off to RV soon on my own, boondocking no less. It occurs to me that I really need a safety plan aside from the obvious such as being careful about where I park. Such things as: a flare? A siren of some kind? I don’t know. Perhaps ya’all have some words of wisdom on this issue.
Excellent advice to test the window and know how it works. Because our RV bedroom is a loft that is 10-12 feet high we purchased a 2 story escape ladder in case we ever need to exit out the emergency window. I am pretty sure a 10 foot drop might be a leg breaker. :^)
10-12 feet would be a big jump! I am surprised RV’s don’t come with an escape ladder in instances like yours. But then again, most only come with one fire extinguisher too, so I guess it’s bare minimum.
A safety series by you guys would be great! This “Great Escape” episode was a good start.
Next up, I would sure like to see you do an article on when NOT to enter touch your RV – A Hot Skin Situation.
Thanks for posting. I realized the comment was pretty cryptic. This should help.
We never claim to be experts and try not to be seen a such. I think articles like this are important reminders, and they open up the conversation. Thanks for sharing this no-shock website.
Guilty as charged! We have never tested our emergency window either and will now be doing so. Thanks for the post.
LuAnn, so glad we were not the only guilty ones!
Thanks so much for doing this Vid. I have a Fleetwood Searcher,and was afraid to test the window because I too thought it would pop out and I’d never get it back in again. Our club just had a fire safety review using Mac the Fire guy. I never considered what a drop it is from the window(I’m very short!). Now, I can be prepared and put something under the window to cushion the fall. He also suggested using the blanket to cover the sill so you won’t scrape yourself getting out,and you’ll have something to wrap yourself in if it’s cold outside.
Thanks for tips Dianne! We are going to have to try and find a class with Mac!
Like others have suggested, the getting out of the emergency window is really the key. I truly think you should do a video on the actual exiting from the window to the ground.
As the other poster suggested, Mac the Fire Guy gives excellent seminars on this subject.
Steve, the point isn’t to watch me get out of our window, because each RV is different. The point is to encourage others to test their windows and for them to try and get out of their windows. What ever the emergency may be that causes someone to need to use an emergency exit, that person needs to know what to do in their RV. I agree attending a seminar or hiring an expert to teach you everything you need to know on what to do in different situations is a good idea. But we are not those experts. This video and post is about operating that window, not the full education on emergency situations.
Point taken. Just wanted to make sure that folks are doing more than just testing whether their emergency window will open or not.
That part really IS the easy part. A plan of how to get out that window and to the ground is the hard part.
I agree Steve and we plan to continue the safety theme with upcoming posts. We’re hoping to take some safety classes or at least talk to different professionals to get some tips we can share.
John E. Baker III
BRAVO! Just to emphasize: ANY RV can have a fire… Even all-electric ones! The odds are increased if you utilize propane or diesel [for heat/hot water]. A good guideline to follow is to monthly inspect all your flues i.e., fridge, furnace, WH are clean and free of leaves, pine straw, etc.; that there are no frayed or decaying wires leading to a unit, *especially* where auto igniters are used and, for full-timers, a spray bottle with a 1:4 ratio of dishwashing liquid to water applied to EVERY. SINGLE. GAS. CONNECTION will save a lot of grief down the road. I’d suggest doing that with the clock changes. These are obviously not things one would not consider with a bricks’n’sticks house, but houses are not subjected to movement & vibrations an RV is.
Fire extinguishers? A *minimum* of two: One under the kitchen sink/near the cooktop and the other in the bedroom. FYI: RVGeeks has an excellent video for installing FE holders using pop rivets.
Oh, and “traipsing” has two I’s.
Thanks for the tips John and catching the spelling error…I make a lot of those…right along with grammar mistakes. 🙂 My trusty spell checker lets me down here and there.
Great reminder for all of us!! An RV can fill with smoke very quickly. I think we are going to conduct a fire drill in the dark so we each know what we are doing instead of running around falling over each other
I hadn’t thought of trying it in the dark but I can imagine if with multiple people in the RV and in different parts, that would be a good idea.
Jason and Nikki, this is an absolute wonderful piece of information that MOST of us do not pay ANY consideration to through our travels!! and WHY??, of course, because we are all heading out with our RV’s, and with great Anticipation to the wonderful days ahead! I must say, this is WHY, I enjoy your web site so very, very much!!! You TWO, have brought home to SOOOO Many, ALL!!! of the REAL wonderful aspects and ALL of the “”Hmmmm, CHECK OUT” the aspects!! From Winston/Carol…..We’ve traversed 39 STATES and 16 times travelled from B.C. to Newfoundland!
Carol, thanks so much for the kind words and so glad you find the info we put out helpful! 39 states and and 16 times from B.C. to Newfoundland is awesome! That B.C. to Newfoundland trip is on our bucket list…we may have to hit you up for suggestions as that gets closer for us!
Don and Carol Brier
We purchased an emergency ladder to store in our Coach bedroom. They might prevent an injury if you decide to jump out the window into the dark. Kidde makes an assortment of them. Ours was compact and only cost around $30. They have hooks that will hang on the sill of the window and the ladder is made of nylon straps with steps that nest together. It might be a good idea to have a second fire extinguisher in the rear of the coach in case the fire blocks you way to the front.
Hey guys, thanks for the tip on the emergency ladder! I am going to have to check into one as our drop is a good one. We are fairly nimble but I would hate to injure an ankle out in the middle of nowhere and having to hobble to help. Thanks for sharing!
Great reminder for all RVers to consider their emergency plans! Glad Fleetwood made you do it 🙂
On our bus, the huge rear tires are right under our bedroom windows on both sides – providing a nice step to help exit the windows. And, the windows are large enough for us to crawl through. We should probably practice it however.
We also keep a Cold Fire extinguisher right next to the foot of the bed – it’s sized to allow us to hopefully fight our way to the front door if needed too. Then we have a second even larger one in a bay of the bus.
We all hope we never need to utilize this stuff.. but oh so important!
Thanks Cherie! Our only extinguisher is in the front of the coach and we have thought about getting one for our bedroom and haven’t done it yet…thanks for the reminder!
Mary Ann Snider
We purchased our 2008 Bounder diesel because of 3 features we liked. One feature was having a chair in the bedroom. Unfortunately, Fleetwood put the chair in front of the emergency exit. I complained to a rep from Fleetwood about this safety hazard and asked if they had sent out a safety alertt. He said Fleetwood didn’t feel there was a need to send out the Alert. He suggested we just buy a new chair or remove the one that came with our rig.
The chair is very heavy. In case of a fire when traveling, the copilot must be able to lift the chair and put it on top of the bed. The space you have to do this maneuver is very small.
We also did the blanket thing and Dennis went out first , he is taller and he could catch me on the drop from the window. that drop can be as much as 7-8 feet.
I have two thoughts on this – first, we did make our kids demonstrate they knew how to open the emergency window in the rear of our fifth wheel, which is where their bunks were. That window was more than large enough for kids and only about 3 feet off the ground so I felt pretty confident the’d be find.
But my wife and I are at the other end in the upper section and I honestly don’t think it’s going to be easy getting out. The window is probably 7-8 feet off the ground and it’s small. I’ve just decided that if the rig is on fire I’m going to hope I can make it out the front door or I’m just going to have to dive out the upper emergency window knowing the injuries sustained from the fall will be less than if I stay in the trailer.
Michael, so glad to hear you have at least checked everything out and know what your options are. Thanks for sharing!
what is the the time limit to get out safely if their is a fire?
Honestly, we are not fire or safety experts so I couldn’t tell you. We are hoping to do more research and find out a little more. It’s just amazing how many homes, apartments and RV’s we have lived in and never really thought about emergency exits for emergency situations. Once we have more info or find a good source for this kind of information, we will share it.
Mary Ann Snifer
Twenty five years ago we stood next to our friend and watched as her rig burned to the ground. We were on the way to the lake with 4 couples when she radioed she smelled smoke. We told her to pull over and get out as fast as she could. From the time she pulled over it took less than 8 minutes before her rig was one foot tall and black. Generally speaking you do not have 8 minutes, more like 2-3 minutes if you are very lucky.
We became very focused on fire safety after seeing how quickly her rig burned. Fast forward 25 years, when we learned friends in another club had died in their rig due to a fire. So far 4 couples we know have lost their rig due to fire. 3 out of the 4 were in the rig when it caught on fire. Only 1 couple was out when their rig which was stored in a barn burn to the ground . We thought we were well prepared to deal with a RV fire after the first incident. We were wrong.
One video I watched suggested you grab the blanket to put on the window seal while climbing out of the window. I give Fleetwood an A+ for providing such a large window for emergency evacuation.
Good idea on the blanket! I hadn’t thought of that but could make the climb out a little more comfortable.
And you might slide out faster!
Thanks….that opened my eyes!
Wow, You should attend a Mac the Fire Guy program. We practiced, I mean we got in bed , set the time a screemed FIRE then did what Mac the Fire Guy told u to do. we both got out the window in just over 1 min. Mac said that was not good enough we should do it in less than 1 min. OK, show us your part 2 video.
ha ha, sounds exciting! I don’t think you will see any screaming, but we’ll try to get the point across.
I work in environmental and safety and I can tell you, there is no situation I am ever in where I am not checking out all of the available exits. Movie theaters, airplanes, and I suppose an RV should I ever be lucky enough to get one;) I also check the fire extinguishers too.
A weird quirk of the profession I guess..
I would say that is a pretty great quirk!
We’re looking forward to part two, with the “hanging down the side of the RV” segment. Seriously Nikki & Jason, this is one of those things that people never think of. Honestly, we’re not sure we’ve ever opened our emergency windows, but we will now. Thanks for the reminder. One other thing…. keep a pair of slippers by the foot of the bed, in case of a nighttime emergency exit. And some pajamas might be good too, for those who sleep au natural. Seriously. No sense distracting the firefighters, right?
Good tip on the pj’s! 🙂 Let me know how your emergency exit trial goes…maybe you need to make a video!
In spy movies they sometimes have what’s called a “go bag” that is always packed and ready to grab on the run if bad guys show up unexpectedly. I keep mine specifically in the event of a night time fire and it includes a change of clothes (sweat pants/t-shirt/unders), tennis shoes and a wind breaker jacket. I also keep an extra $100 in it so I know I’m never broke:-) if I ever have to make a quick escape.
Great idea Mark! We don’t have a “go bag” but I think I might have to put one together. Thanks for sharing!