In our RV Breakdown recap and tips video and blog post, we mentioned we would be looking at some additional safety equipment in case we ever ended up stranded on the side of the road again – especially at night. We also said we’d put together a Roadside Safety Checklist to keep as a handy reference at your time of need. After all, when you’re faced with an RV, truck or any vehicle breakdown, it can be pretty stressful and it’s easy to overlook simple yet important things – like when we forgot to put out our safety cones! So we’ve created a Checklist for you to download for free, but first, we had to stock up on some safety gear!
7 Roadside Safety Gadgets for Breakdowns
We did some shopping around to see what options were out there so we could share our findings with you. We’re aware that everyone has different needs, preferences, and types of RV/vehicles, so we’re not presenting just one or two safety gadgets, but seven (7) for you to choose from. In this blog post and video (with bloopers), we share what we already had in our RV and also show you some of the other handy gadgets that we found, personally tried and tested and felt were worthy to share with you here.
We want to help keep you safe during the day AND night, should you end up on the side of a road! It may not ever happen, but it’s better to be safe than sorry, and many of these gadgets are very affordable. You cannot put a price on your safety! We were happy to discover some convenient and affordable solutions to those old chemical burning flares that run the risk of causing a fire. Today’s modern LED lights and reflective materials are very bright and can be seen from far away. And while we already had some regular orange safety cones on board, we decided to add some new gear to our safety stash.
Let’s talk through each of 7 safety gadgets individually, including their pros and cons!
1. Simple Traffic / Safety Cones
When we first started RVing, we bought 4 x 12 inch inexpensive rubbery safety cones from the local hardware store. They are standard stackable cones and weigh about 1-1.5 pounds each. We still had all four until we used them at the Solarfest and a couple disappeared. Because they are fairly inexpensive (under $10) you don’t need to be overly concerned about leaving them unattended or out overnight. One of the nice things about these cheap safety cones is that they come in handy for other uses, like temporarily holding a space, setting up in a field as a goal for playing soccer, or practice drills. They are also good to use for practicing maneuvering your RV into mock street corners or parking when learning how to drive your RV, and it doesn’t matter if you run over them as the material is very forgiving. We often use them in parking lots (like shopping centers) to prevent other vehicles from parking too close and blocking us from exiting. You can pick these up at your local hardware store or buy them online from Amazon, where we found them for just over $9 each. Dimensions: 12″ tall x 6.5″ Diameter, weight 1.5 pounds.
2. Collapsible LED Cones
These collapsible safety cones with reflective material have built-in LED lights, a weighted base, and a fabric cone that extends to 17 inches tall. The reflective material allows visibility at night, but for even better visibility at night, there is a built-in light that illuminates the whole cone. The LED light can also be set to flash on and off drawing even more attention. It is powered by two AAA batteries, which are included. The weighted base with rubber feet make them feel very planted, but they do not appear to be very weather resistant, so heavy rains might allow water into the unit and short out the batteries which would eliminate the light, but the cone would still be visible. These cones could be used like the rubber cones for some activites (like sports), because the fabric would be forgiving, but we would caution against using for driving practice because if you run them over with a big RV or truck, they might not survive. Dimensions are 10″ x 10″ x 2.5″ when flat and 17” tall when expanded, and weigh 3 pounds each. They are really cool, but not inexpensive at $14.95 each. We bought three of these to add to our safety arsenal.
3. Magnetic LED Safety Flares
These come in a very compact plastic storage case that is an efficient use of space. Inside the case are two small stick shaped flares with fold-out plastic legs. The fold-out legs don’t seem very stable but are probably no big deal if they fall over as the legs would at least prevent it from rolling around. You also have the option of using the magnetic base to stick to a car or other metal surface to aid visibility. It is a water-resistant design with reflective material, a comfortable grip and a very bright LED light that runs on 3 AAA batteries for each ‘flare’ – and the batteries are included. While we initially thought these were a bit cheap and flimsy when we opened the case, we actually came to really like the versatility and compactness of these. It’s a nice, compact size for keeping in a car and the reflective material would help show at night, but is very little surface area so it would not be visible from great distance with just the reflective material. The LED light would of course be much more visible. The red light can be set to blink or stay on consistently. The ones we bought were red, but these are also available in other colors (yellow and blue). Also, the top of the ‘flare’ has a white light that allows it to function like a flashlight. The flashlight could stay in place with the plastic base or magnetic base if surfaces allow. Kit dimensions are 9″ x 5″ x 2″ inches and the whole kit weighs just 1 pound. The compact size of the individual flares make them easy to carry if you need to walk to get help or in a pocket to increase your personal visibility and safety. There are two flares in the kit and which is priced under $20. We did a more thorough video review of this product on our Road Gear Reviews YouTube channel, which you can watch here. We decided to keep this item in our safety stash as well.
4. LED Emergency Beacon Flare Kit
There are three dark red plastic LED ‘flares’ resembling hockey pucks that come inside a canvas bag. They are each powered by three AAA batteries and these are NOT included, which means you’ll need a total of 9 AAA batteries – be sure to keep some on hand and fully charged for when you need them! The light can be set to blink or stay on steady. The hard plastic case has a rubber ring inside which should help if it rains, but there is no claim of this product being weather resistant. Being very small and battery powered, if the batteries go dead or short out, they will be of little use. Small magnets on base would allow you to attach to a vehicle or other metal surfaces. But assuming dry weather, according to the packaging, the batteries would last 20-60 hours depending on the setting (steady or blink). These were probably my least favorite safety gadget of the group so we returned them, but we can see that these would be a compact and handy solution for some, so they may work for you. Dimensions are 9″ x 5″ x 4″ for the pack of three, altogether weighing about 1 pound. Cost for the set is around $25.
5. Emergency Reflective Safety Triangles
These are large 17” reflective triangles that appear to be the only product in this group that are officially DOT (Department of Transportation) approved. They offer excellent visibility with the bright orange base color during the day, and reflective red when lights hit them at night. The triangle shape is very clear from a substantial distance day or night. The weighty base and the triangle twists to create a very stable 4 point connection with the ground that would be solid, even on the side of a highway. With no dependence on lights or batteries, and being made of plastic, durable materials, these would be very reliable and would be completely weather resistant. We strongly recommend you practice setting these up when you first get them so that you are familiar with how to unfold and assemble before you end up in a stressful or emergency situation. Initially unsure whether we would be keeping or returning some of these safety items, we tried to open them gently, but we found they require a pretty firm pull to separate and assemble. Three triangles come inside the rectangular carry case, and while these are relatively space efficient they certainly are not lightweight. Case dimensions are 17.5″ x 5.5″ x 4.5″ (three x 17” triangles when assembled) weighing 10 pounds (a bit over 3 lbs for each triangle). The cost is around $37 for the three pack. I have seen many professional drivers using these on the side of the road, and they are definitely a reliable and effective option, however we chose to return them, mainly as they were a bit bulkier and heavier than we wanted to carry in our RV. If space and weight are not an issue for you, these would be a good option.
6. NOCO Genius Boost Pro Jump Starter
While we didn’t purchase this item for the purpose of this safety gadget comparison, we felt our NOCO Genius Boost Pro Jump Starter was worth including, as this can be a very useful piece of equipment in a breakdown or emergency situation. The NOCO ultra safe lithium jump starter is fantastic for starting cars, trucks and RVs, charging devices via USB or 12 volt, and also has an extremely powerful LED light that can light up an area very well. The light can also be set to blink/flash which can be used for safety awareness or providing light if, say, you needed to say change a tire. The light is white instead of red, but as long as it isn’t pointed in a manner that will blind other drivers it could still work well to draw extra attention to you at night. We did a much more thorough video review of this product on our Road Gear Reviews YouTube Channel which you can watch here. Ours is the heavier duty GB150 4000amp unit which can even jump start large RVs, but you may find the smaller (and less expensive) GB40 unit to be enough for your needs.
or the NOCO GB40 1000Amp (mentioned in review video)
7. Reflective Safety Vest
We also recommend wearing a safety vest when you are outside of your vehicle so you are more visible to passing motorists. Safety vests are usually orange or bright yellow/green, and will optimally include reflective material for better nighttime visibility as well. I had a bright safety vest that I normally wear for bicycling, and that will work well in a pinch, but the better option would be a specifically designed reflective safety vest. Make sure to get a size that will fit you, even if you need to put it over the top of a jacket or raincoat. We found these well-reviewed reflective safety vests on Amazon that come in a range of sizes from Medium up to XX-Large, and just placed our order for these at only $10 each as they are far superior to my biking vest.
Summary and Additional Safety Tips
While we’re on the subject of roadside safety, we wanted to take this opportunity to remind you of general safety practices and wearing personal protective equipment such as:
- Wear gloves appropriate for the task being performed
- Avoid wearing loose-fitting clothes when working near mechanical devices or when cooking
- Wear safety glasses whenever working with batteries, or mechanical devices to protect your precious eyes from damage
Which Safety Gadgets Did We Keep?
Depending on your needs, any of the above safety gadgets might be a better match for you than they were for us, but here are our favorite safety gadgets – including the ones we kept from the stash we ordered from Amazon:
There are, of course, plenty of other products out there, but we felt this provided a nice cross-section of some of the many options available. Hope you found this helpful and remember to stay safe out there!
And don’t forget to grab your Free Roadside Safety Checklist and keep in a handy place for when you need it!