When an emergency happens, every minute counts. In some cases those few precious moments could mean the difference between life and death. While knowing where your RV emergency exit windows are is extremely important to the safety of your family, knowing how to use them is even more important.
Owning an RV brings happiness and a sense of freedom for millions of families across the country. However, it’s not always as glamorous and scenic as it looks from the outside.
Just like in your home, emergencies and other unplanned events pop-up. The key is to be prepared should the unthinkable happen.
When an emergency arises, the safety of you and your family are most important. Everything else is simply possessions that can be replaced.
In this article we are going to discuss what RV emergency exits are, how to locate them, and how to use them.
Let’s jump in…
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- How Are RV Emergency Exit Windows Different Than Regular Windows?
- Do All RVs Have Emergency Exit Windows?
- Types Of RV Emergency Exits
- How To Use An RV Emergency Exit Window
- How To Fix A “Stuck” Emergency Exit Window
- When Would I Use My Emergency Exits?
- Have An Emergency Plan
- Can You Open An RV Emergency Exit Window From The Outside?
- Final Thoughts
How Are RV Emergency Exit Windows Different Than Regular Windows?
RV emergency exit windows, or egress windows, are designed to be opened quickly and are sized to serve as an emergency exit allowing everyone inside to escape safely.
At first glance they appear to be just like regular windows, however, an egress window will be clearly marked. These marking will include the word “EXIT” written in bright red letters. This label will be located on the window or on the wall surrounding the window.
In addition, RV emergency exit windows are hinged at the top and open from the bottom of the window. These windows will also have quick-release latches, levers, or ropes that are painted bright red.
Do All RVs Have Emergency Exit Windows?
All RVs are required to have an emergency exit window in the main living areas as well as the sleeping quarters.
Depending on the size of the camper, there may be multiple egress windows throughout the coach.
Take the time to walk through your rig and identify which windows are emergency exits.
In the event of an emergency, whether it be a fire, a crash, or other life-threatening event, every second counts. And, you may not always have a clear path to the main entrance of your camper.
Types Of RV Emergency Exits
In addition to windows, some larger RVs may even have emergency exit doors. These emergency exit doors will be located at the rear of the coach or in a bathroom.
I’m sure you have seen motorhomes and some larger towable rigs that have a door behind the toilet.
These seemingly useless doors have left many RV owners scratching their heads, me included. The doors behind the toilet in an RV aren’t there for normal everyday use. They are actually emergency exits.
Related: The Ultimate Guide To RV Fire Safety
How To Use An RV Emergency Exit Window
I have noticed on many social media sites and RV online forums that there are a number of RV owners that don’t know how to open their RV emergency exit windows.
There are also those that just aren’t aware that these windows can actually be opened allowing for additional airflow in the camper.
If you fall into one of these categories, just know that you’re not alone. In fact, when we bought our Kodiak, I was under the impression that the egress window would fall out if we opened it.
Little did I know that these exit windows can, and should, be opened on a regular basis.
Let’s take a look at how to use an RV emergency exit window.
Remove The Window Screen
Keep in mind that there are several different styles of emergency egress windows. Some will have a handle that unlatches and pushes out and some will have red clips at the bottom or side of the window.
In addition, some emergency windows will have screens on them. In our camper, one egress window has a screen and the other doesn’t.
If you have a screen on your emergency exit window, you will need to remove it before you can exit the RV through the window.
The screen on an egress window will have a red clip located at the bottom that allows you to easily remove the screen.
Push The Window Open
After the window screen is removed, make sure all of the clips or handles are unfastened. Then simply gently push on the window and it should open. I understand that in an emergency, there will be no “gently” pushing on the window.
However, when testing the operation of your emergency egress windows, you don’t want to be overly enthusiastic about it. A broken window doesn’t do you any good, and will dig into your wallet to have it replaced.
Since there are many different types of RV emergency exit windows, check your owner’s manual for your specific model.
If you’re still unsure about how to use your emergency exit windows, contact the manufacturer directly. They will have no problem walking you through the process.
How To Fix A “Stuck” Emergency Exit Window
When testing your RV emergency exit windows, you may find that they have never been opened. In this case, the window seal may be stuck to the frame.
If it’s not an emergency, take your time. The last thing you want is a broken window.
Head outside to check for anything that may be obstructing the window. For instance, shipping clips.
These plastic clips will be located around the edge of the window and are put in place by the manufacturer so the RV can be transported to the dealership safely.
In other cases the window seals may have stuck to the frame from lack of use or summer heat. When dealing with a stuck egress window, make sure all clips and latches are free, then gently begin to push from the bottom of the window.
If you need to use a pry bar or other tool to free the window, do so very carefully. Once you get the window open, it’s a good idea to spray a rubber lubricant to the seal to prevent future issues.
When Would I Use My Emergency Exits?
Nobody likes to think about the dangers that go with full-time living or weekend camping in an RV. We all like to think that RVing is just about spending quality time with our loved ones, enjoying the scenery, or gathering around the campfire for spooky stories and s’mores.
But the fact of the matter is emergencies do happen. No matter how safe we try to be, things are going to happen and there may come a time when you have to use your RV emergency exit windows to escape safely. The main door of your RV may not be accessible in certain situations leaving your emergency exits the only choice you have to get out.
Most people think of fires as the only reason they would need to use their emergency egress windows. While a fire in an RV would be close to the top of the list, there are other instances where you would need to get out of your camper fast.
How many times have you seen storms blow through RV parks or campgrounds and blow over a camper? If you are trapped inside, the only way out may be through one of your egress windows.
Every RV I have ever seen has propane on-board. It’s used to cook meals, heat water, and warm the coach. A propane leak can be deadly if you don’t get to safety fast. This could be another reason you would need to use your RV emergency exit windows.
The potential hazards could go on and on, but I think you get the point.
Have An Emergency Plan
The most important thing to keep in mind is the safety of you and your family. While you’re testing your RV emergency exit windows, make sure everyone in your family knows where they are and how to use them.
Practice opening your egress windows in the dark. In the event of a fire, your visibility is going to be close to zero making it even more difficult to locate and open these windows.
In your emergency plan, find a safe spot to meet away from the camper and go over this plan with your family.
Can You Open An RV Emergency Exit Window From The Outside?
We were camping at a local RV resort last year and walked out of the camper in the middle of the night. When the door closed behind us, we didn’t realize it was locked. So there we were, standing outside in our pajamas, locked out of our camper.
To get back in, we were lucky enough to be able to open one of our emergency exit windows from the outside. Of course, it took a bit of “thinking outside the box”.
The small window beside the egress window was open which allowed us to reach in and unlatch the clips on the window. One of the clips was out of arm’s reach so we used our stabilizer jack handle to pop the last clip.
Now, not everyone is going to be this lucky. There’s not always going to be a smaller window to reach through.
There are other ways of removing an RV emergency window from the outside that require a bit of ingenuity and the right tools.
Depending on the type of egress window you have, you may be able to remove the screws holding the top hinge in place and use a flat pry bar to release the seal and open the window. Keep in mind that this may cause damage to your RV or lead to other costly repairs.
RV emergency windows are a very important safety feature that is standard on all modern RVs. However, it is extremely vital that you know where these windows are located throughout your rig. More importantly it is crucial that they work and that you and your family know how to use them.
To prevent the window seal from sticking to the frame over time, it’s always good to open your egress windows on a regular basis and apply a rubber seal lubricant.
Now is the perfect time to get in your camper, locate the egress windows, and make sure they work properly. Keeping your family safe on your travels and adventures is priority number one.
David is a U.S. Air Force veteran who currently lives on the Texas Gulf Coast with his wonderful wife of 26 years and their two furry companions, Gus and LuLu.
As an outdoor and RV enthusiast, David loves to spend his free time taking road trips and spending as much time as possible at the campground with the family in their 2018 Dutchmen Kodiak 201QB travel trailer