heater in our rv blew up

So, the Heater in our RV Blew Up (No Big Deal)

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Wintering in your RV is no simple task. That is, unless you are lucky enough to be nestled into some oceanside park in southern Florida or tucked away in the high desert, where you’re surrounded by sunshine and warmth.

For Heath and I, we’ve spent our winter in Alabama (working on our documentary, as you know) and oh boy, for being the south, it has been COLD.

We’ve weathered lots of below freezing nights, snow, tons and tons and tons of rain, and one night, our propane tank wouldn’t cooperate leaving us with no furnace and no way to cook. Thank God for slow cookers.

Like I said, winter is tough.

But one particular day last week took the cake for hands down just the worst day.

It started out like any other (i.e. below freezing outside). Heath woke up first and…actually I have no idea what he does when he wakes up. I’m never awake to see it. He probably curls up next to the heater with a blanket and cup of coffee. The overcast, chilly winter mornings are more than enough to keep me cozy in bed until Heath slowly coaxes me out of bed with a fresh cup of hot coffee, like a champ.

Everything went smoothly at first. Heath was sitting at the desk in the passenger seat while I sat at the booth working. We lost track of time and I tried to pack up some equipment so we could head out to meet our editor. I picked up the computer case and incidentally, instantly knocked Heath’s coffee mug off the dash, and onto the only floor space in our brand new Winnebago that is carpeted.

Heath and I quickly tried to clean up the mess, sparking a heated argument about the proper way to clean coffee out of carpet (I say dab, Heath says scrub).

I put the coffee mug in the sink and tried to continue getting us ready to leave for work. I got dressed, packed lunches, put the coffee grounds back in the cabinet.

When I closed the cabinet door, I heard a slight scrape, as if something fell or moved when I closed the door. I didn’t think much of it and turned to walk away. No sooner had I turned around then our clock fell over, knocking a full glass bottle of syrup off the shelf and into the sink, which happen to land directly on top of the glass mug I had just tossed in the sink seconds earlier. The weight of the syrup broke the mug and sent shards of glass in every direction.

The problem with breaking glass in the RV is that there is literally no safe place that won’t have shards of glass in it. My bare feet and I hid out in the booth while Heath cleaned up the mess (making us even more late to meet our editor).

After work at the end of the cold, cloudy, very long day, I crawled into bed.

Anyway, what’s that saying about how bad things come in threes?

Here came bad thing number three. Right when I was on the brink of peaceful sleep.

A flash of light. A distinct pop crackle of what sounded like a small bolt of lightning or a distant firework.

Instinctively, I reached toward the small cubby next to our bed, ripping a cord out of the outlet.

On particularly cold nights, Heath and I use a small heater in our RV. It’s more like a heated fan, since there are no coils or anything. It keeps the bedroom warm so we don’t have to run the furnace all night. As far as heaters go, this type of heated fan is about as safe as they come. It sits on the floor next to my side of the bed, usually without incident.

But just before I fell asleep–fortunately–something shorted in the electrical cord creating an immediate flame.

I jolted out of bed, calling out Heath’s name to wake him up and flipping on the lights. (He was completely oblivious to this tiny explosion, in case you were wondering). There was a black burn mark on our linoleum floor. Fortunately there was nothing on the floor and no blankets hanging off the bed to catch fire. The cord I unplugged from the outlet was black and melted and well, no longer attached to the heater where it was supposed to be.

There’s really nothing like the possibility of catching on fire in the middle of the night to keep you up.

A spill, shattered glass, a small house fire. Just another day in the RV life.

Moral of the story: use lids, plastic everything, and space heaters will try to kill you.