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Home > Tips and Hints > Trip planning and safety > Road Rules and Safety > Security and Safety

Security of personal property and safe vehicle recovery. Murphy's Law - what can go wrong.

Murphyís Law

What can go wrong?  You can just about guarantee that it will be something different every time and not what you have prepared for.  Anything from tyre blowouts, broken springs, axles, chassis, water tanks (holes or becoming detached) or stone damage to taps and hoses under van either one resulting in loss of water supply, cupboards, electrical problems, battery failures, tow bar from vehicle, breakaway pin removal, brake cables to wheels severing, roll-overs.  Tow vehicle break downs; from electrical shorts to complete motor or gearbox breakdown.  Your vehicle may catch on fire.  These things can and do happen to travelers from time to time, and some of these have happened to us; usually in a remote area at an inconvient time such as during a long weekend.

 

You cannot take a spare part for everything and unless going really remote you need to rely on a few basics such as spare tyres and a tyre repair kit, and have a good communications system to suit your region of travel, eg Next G or satellite telephone.  Obviously you will need to carry a basic tool set with at minimum wheel spanners to suit your tow vehicle and your trailer, and a jack which is suitable for fitting under and lifting your tow vehicle and caravan to a height needed to change the tyre.  It is surprising how many people are not suitably equipped, be they in hire vehicles or their own new rig.  When planning your trip, where you will be travelling will dictate the needs for lots of spares or minimum spare parts

 

Having sufficient supplies of water and food is essential.  Water should be carried in more than one tank or container, and caravan water tanks should be isolated from each other so that if a leak occurs, some water will be saved. 

 

Safe recovery

Whether you need to be towed or winched out of a situation such as bog or stalled in water, or you are asked to tow or winch someone else out, safety of drivers and passengers is the priority.  Never have passengers in the vehicles at the time of recovery, do not allow members of your party or by standers within a distance the length of the cable or strap, and never use the tow ball as a recovery point. 

 

Winching safety is outlined in the following article: Safe Winching from Outback Travel Australia.

 

For those who only carry a hand winch se Hand Winching Options 

 

 

Security of your personal property

Lock and leave: Normal precautions should be adequate; such as always lock your rig when leaving, even if in a town caravan park and both going to the showers at the same time.  Donít leave wallets, handbags, cameras or any other small valuables visible in your car or caravan.  Depending on where you are, it is usually fairly safely leave chairs outside in a park such as in a National Park or lakeside camp ground, but not such a good idea in a caravan park in a large town.  Get to know your neighbouring campers, and watch out for each other, where ever you are.  When we were camping under a canvas canopy on the back of the ute, we left our fridge running on power in a caravan park after a good catch of fish, just asking the neighbours to keep an eye on it. 

 

We have never had any security issues, but prefer to camp out of town or in small towns more often than in large towns.  If you feel safe, you probably are, but if you feel uncomfortable, take extra precautions. 

 

Camper trailers and pop up campers with canvas are not burglar proof, nor are tents.  However break ins are far less likely when camping than in a suburban home. 

 

Documents:  It is wise to keep copies of important documents, passports and tickets as well as telephone numbers to call in case of accidental loss or theft of bank cards in a separate place to handbags and wallets.  They can also be kept on your computer if you travel with one and in addition on a USB drive kept in a different place.  A printed copy kept with you is useful for quick access in case of a loss.

 

Keys:  You will most likely end up with a big bunch of keys such as car, caravan (which may have many different keys other than just for the door), locks on spare tyres and toolbox padlocks.  We have a number of duplicates made and one set of duplicates stays in the caravan with another in the car; all with colour coordinated key tags as we have so many.  My husband carries a caravan door key on the car keys and I have one on a neck chain.  This way we each always have access to the caravan and to spare keys.  We have lost our car keys while bushwalking in a fairly remote area, and needed my neck chain key to gain access to the caravan for the spare car keys and other keys he had on the key ring. 

Leaving your caravan unattended: There will be times you need to leave your caravan or trailer to go touring.  Lock and leave is really no different to leaving your rig or even your car in a car park while you go shopping.  Chances of someone coming past and hitching up your caravan and driving off are very remote.  It is really no more secure left in a caravan park, and theft from a caravan park has occurred.  We have unhitched and left our caravan in a parking area to take a four wheel drive track to see something on several occasions without incident.  We have also left our caravan in caravan parks or in free camp grounds while touring during the day. 

 

If you need to leave your caravan for a few days to camp out most people choose caravan parks, and some have secure enclosures such as at Warmun in the Kimberley for people to visit Purnululu National Park, or at Drysdale River Station on the road to Kalumburu and the Mitchell Plateau.  However many people visiting Purnululu safely leave their caravan at the Spring Creek rest area

 

For added security, wheel clamps or chains with padlocks can be used to secure the caravan itself, or a locking pin placed on the tow hitch.  Carvans stolen are usually taken from the owners own home, and the aforementioned security devices are little deterent to a determined thief.  Note that most insurers will not accept chains and padlocks as a method of security.   

Tyres, pressures and age

If they will fit your van or trailer, have all hubs/tyres alike as this gives the flexibility of more spares.  Run your tyres on lowered pressures on rough, corrugated and stony dirt roads.  You may need to lower them even more when travelling through deep loose sand.  Trailer tyres should also be similarly lowered.   With a heavy rig, we have lowered tyre of both caravan and tow vehicle to 25 psi cold to travel on corrugated roads.   

 

When tyre pressures are lowered, travel slower to avoid overheating, and avoid sudden changes of direction. 

 

Peak Hill Caravan Park for tyre pressure hints

 

If you have a tandem axled trailer, a flat tyre may not be obvious and sometimes not discovered until the rim has also been ruined.  While being alert is important, sometimes it cannot be seen.  We have the Simplicity load sharing suspension, and the rim just lowers to the road and continues on with no visible effect to the caravan.

 

Tyre pressure warning monitors will alert the driver to any variation in tyre pressure and temperature, and may be a worthwhile investment, depending on your type of rig.  Some are external and simply replace the valve cap, and can be subject to stone damage.  Others are fitted internally.  It is important to choose one than can be easily set to differing tyre pressures according to road conditions to be of benefit in all conditions.  

 

If travelling on outback dirt roads, take a tyre mending kit and learn how to use it if you havenít done so before.

 

Check the date stamp on your tyres.  Using tyres over five to six years since manufacture is not recommend even if they have had little use.  They may be subject to blow-outs. 

Safe winching

Safe Snatching

The following has guidelines for safe snatch strap recovery.  Tek Trek are stockists of four wheel drive adventure equipment. 

 

See more about Snatch Straps

We have a Warn Winch on our Bull Bar; one which is made to carry a winch, and we carry a snatch strap as well as a chain suitable for towing.  These are in our recovery box together with rated shackles, snatch block, tree guard and gloves all just in case we need to extricate our vehicle although fortunately we have not needed any of these while travelling.  We also have a set of Max Trax (under wheel boards) and these saved us a lot of hard work when bogged in river stones. 

Recovery tools can range from a spade, jack including high lift jack, snatch strap or tow rope/chain, winch or under wheel devises.

 

Personal safety of operator, helpers, passengers and bystanders is paramount which ever method is being used, and particular caution where young children who may move quickly and unpredictably are present.    

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