For area RVers, nice weather can't come soon enough. To get you pumped for RV season, here's a checklist for getting your recreation vehicle ready. Too early, you say? Well, what about fitting this article in that blank spot on the fridge between the magnets or family art? And for hearty souls who don't let winter stop their fun - or who will soon flee to warmer climes - we also have some winter RVing tips.

RV Activation

Check the water system for leaks, sanitize it and make sure the toilet is operating.

Remove tape and protective coverings from all vents; open everything to see if rodents or insects got in or if you have any leaks.

Clean and inspect the roof (do it carefully to avoid punctures or damaging any seals); check body and window seals.

Inspect awning fabrics and, if you clean them, make sure they're dry before rolling them back up.

Inspect RV and tow vehicle tires for cracks, uneven wear and foreign objects, and inflate tires to cold weather pressures. Make sure lug nuts are tight on all tires. Check spares.

Clean RV interiors, plug in appliances, and test carbon monoxide alarms and LP gas detectors. Check fire extinguishers and test breakers. Clean or replace air conditioner filters and air your RV out.

Reinstall batteries (recharge them, if necessary) and clean battery posts. Check battery water levels, if applicable.

Test things like electric steps, hydraulic jacks and backup cameras.

Change generator oil and filters if it wasn't done in the fall and run the generator for an hour at about half load (check owner's manual for load numbers). You should also check your RV when it's plugged into external electric power.

It's always advisable to have a qualified technician check LP gas systems for leaks and pressure before operating appliances on gas.

Check underneath your RV. If you smell gasoline, diesel or LP gas when you take a deep breath, shut off all pilot lights and call a professional.

More checks

Check your engine oil and follow your owner's manual about using a winter weight oil. Check your air filter and all fluids (transmission, brake, power steering, engine coolant, windshield) and top off before starting your engine. This is a good time for a full chassis lubrication if it wasn't done before storage. If you discover a fluid leak, move your RV and check again, noting the leak's color and location relative to the RV. Have a certified RV technician fix any problem.

If you have a towable trailer, wheel bearings need checking annually. You should also check canvas for tears and hitches and couplers for damage. Once you make sure all lights work, you're ready to load up and go - after a final walk-around to make sure everything is either closed, secured (cords, hoses, hitches, chains), up (steps) or down (vents, antennas).

Winter RVing

Interior moisture is a problem for RVs in winter. You can reduce it with a dehumidifier before traveling. On the road, boiling water in microwaves cuts moisture, as does closing bathroom pocket doors, opening roof vents and turning on vent fans when showering. Some heat is lost but moisture levels stay down.

Water tank heaters keep plumbing from freezing tank heaters; use small electric heaters in sewer/water compartments. It also helps to keep cabinet doors ajar and air circulating with small fans.

For those not traveling until spring, you may encounter winter weather so practice a little in slick conditions before departing. Have a plan for handling a big storm and book a reservation at your first stop.

All RV owners need to follow their owner's manual concerning maintenance. Do that and your RVing - whenever it starts - is more likely to be trouble-free.