NOTE: the following was written two weeks before the severity of the pandemic was fully realized. As evidenced by the rapid pace at which this situation is evolving, what is factual one day is not the next. Thank you for your understanding.
Global pandemics are nothing to laugh about, but it pays to keep things in perspective. Be safe but always remember these top five travel hazards that actually kill more people than a scary pandemic like COVID-19 (at least, so far).
These RV Travel Hazards Are Always Present
Infectious disease is a fact of life on Planet Earth. From the earliest recorded pandemic in 165 AD to the Coronavirus of 2019/2020, catastrophic infectious disease has taken millions of lives. But before you panic about the current pandemic, stop and look at the big picture. Life has many more circumstances responsible for killing far more people than any virus ever has. These RV travel hazards are just a few.
In the U.S., 37,461 people were killed in 34,436 motor vehicle crashes that happened in 2016. That’s an average of 102 per day according to the National Transportation and Safety Board. Worldwide, nearly 1.25 million people die in road crashes every year, on average 3,287 deaths a day, according to the World Health Organization.
About 4,000 RV fires happen each year, according to the National Fire Protection Association. The number two cause of a fire is the RV refrigerator. The number one? RV engine fires.
National park hazards.
Each week, about 6 people die in America’s national parks. We’re talking about 312 deaths a year, or just under one death per million visitors according to park service chief spokesman Jeremy Barnum in an article on CNN.com. How they die ranges from getting lost in the wilderness to car accidents to heart attacks, but fatal wild animal conflicts rarely happen.
Domestic pets, insects and farm animals.
Based on data from 2008 to 2015 1,610 animal-related fatalities happened in the US. “Importantly, most deaths are not actually due to wild animals like mountain lions, wolves, bears, sharks, etc., but are a result of deadly encounters with farm animals, anaphylaxis from bees, wasps, or hornet stings, and dog attacks,” writes Jared A. Forrester, MD, Department of Surgery, Stanford University and lead director of a study in the science journal Wilderness and Environmental Medicine.
Forrester goes on to caution that the majority of animal related deaths do not happen in the wilderness. “So, while it is important that people recreating in the wilderness know what to do when they encounter a potentially dangerous animal, the actual risk of death is quite low.”
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Each year, carbon monoxide poisoning claims the lives of more than 400 Americans according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Over 20,000 emergency room visits and 4,000 hospitalizations occur, and many of these incidents are the result of campers using unvented propane heaters.
Keep Pandemic Fears in Check: Go RVing!
In these perilous times, it’s easy to forget that when danger is real, fear is a choice. You can choose to sit in front of the television all day and worry about the “what ifs” of a highly infectious pandemic. Or, you can take command of your thoughts and remember that life always has more RV travel hazards coming at us than one global health crisis. Keep washing those hands to avoid illness, and for better mind and body health, get out and get remote during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rene Agredano and her husband, Jim Nelson, became full-time RVers in 2007 and have been touring the country ever since. In her blog, Rene chronicles the ins and outs of the full-timing life and brings readers along to meet the fascinating people and amazing places they visit on the road. Her road trip adventures are chronicled in her blog at LiveWorkDream.com.