Can you suffocate in a camper?

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Sleeping in a van may be a safe and enjoyable way to travel, but many people are concerned about whether there is enough air to avoid asphyxia. Since vans are much smaller than RVs, they lack ventilation. Many of people, however, live, travel, and camp in vans without having respiratory difficulties.

You can suffocate in the back of a van if there’s too much carbon monoxide, but proper airflow will prevent oxygen deprivation to provide a safe sleeping environment. Breathing problems may be avoided by cracking the windows, adding a roof vent, or cycling the air conditioner on a regular basis.

In this essay, we’ll go through the risks of suffocation in a van, how to avoid it, and how to make your camping experience more pleasant in the back of a van.

What Can Make You Suffocate at the Back of a Van?

You might’ve heard people talking about the potential of suffocating while sleeping in the back of a van. Condensation forms on the glass, making it difficult to breathe and perhaps unpleasant. There are several options, which we will discuss in this essay. Check out the list below to find out why there’s a chance of suffocating in the back of a van.

  • There may be a shortage of oxygen if there is carbon monoxide from cooking equipment. . It’s a good idea to avoid cooking in your van to prevent spills and odors, but you shouldn’t ever cook with the doors closed. Your vehicle will become a dangerous environment when it fills with gas.
  • It is risky to leave a car running in an enclosed parking spot (such as a garage). . Carbon monoxide enters the vehicle, causing the fumes to take up more space than oxygen. According to Goody Feed, a leaking exhaust pipe is another probable cause that worsens this scenario.
  • Even if you’re seeking for insulation solutions, never seal a vehicle to make it airtight. . By insulating your vehicle using fiberglass batts and other equipment, you can keep it at its original temperature. However, sealing your fan to limit the airflow coming through the hood is a surefire way to cause oxygen issues.

As you can see, there are a number preventable reasons why sleeping in the back of a van is not a good idea. The main reason is that carbon monoxide replaces oxygen. It’s very unlikely that you’ll face a lack of oxygen outside of this issue since vans aren’t sealed to prevent airflow.

Is There Enough Oxygen in a Closed Vehicle?

If you plan to sleep or rest in the back of a van, knowing how much oxygen you’ll have is undeniably important. Your vehicle has enough oxygen to live far longer than you believe with all doors locked and windows open.

According to Survival Freedom, the oxygen is cycled and totally restored after a few hours. It moves faster via the vents, hood, and other non-sealed places than it can be utilised by breathing. To put it another way, In the great majority of cases, you don’t have to worry about suffocating in the back of a van.

In confined areas like a vehicle, carbon monoxide replaces oxygen. It becomes hazardous, which is why you should turn off any gas-powered appliances before going to bed. Employing a CO detector will prevent it from accumulating without your knowledge.


When there is too much carbon monoxide in the air, the Kidde Carbon Monoxide Detector beeps. If you want to sleep in a van, this is a must-have item. As previously stated, undiscovered exhaust leaks, culinary equipment, and a variety of other components may all emit hazardous CO.

How to Prevent Suffocation in the Back of a Van

Getting adequate oxygen is critical whether you’re camping, residing, or taking a quick sleep in the back of a van. The two most important parts of the process include preventing CO buildup and improving the airflow inside of the vehicle. If you can tick these items, you should be OK to unwind and sleep in the van.

Follow this four-step solution:

  1. If you’re parked in a confined space, don’t start the car. . Look for an open space with lots of ventilation. Even if you turn on the engine every so often to use the air conditioner or heater, you won’t have to worry about the carbon monoxide building up or poisoning anyone in the vehicle.
  2. Consider adding a roof vent fan to improve ventilation. . Freedom Vans explains a roof vent brings in clean air, making it like sleeping in a tent rather than an enclosed vehicle. The Fan-Tastic Vent Fan installs in the top of the van and comes with multiple speeds to pull or push air around the van for better breathing and resting.
  3. To keep insects out of the vehicle, crack the windows and use bug netting. . Many car campers know lowering the windows by an inch can drastically reduce ventilation issues, but the biggest drawback is bugs and other debris can get in the van. For the greatest results, we suggest draping a bug net over the windows.
  4. Before sleeping in the back of a vehicle, turn off all appliances. Everything, from the camping stove to the motor of your automobile, should be turned off. Be certain that no gas-powered lamps are in use. When it’s time to sleep, nothing should be running in the vehicle!

These four solutions will save you from having to worry about running out of air in your vehicle. Airflow isn’t all about preventing suffocation, though; Stagnant air can be uncomfortable to breathe, so improving it will provide a better night’s sleep. You’ll wake up ready to face the day, no matter where you go!


You can camp in peace now that you know sleeping in the back of a van is very unlikely to result in asphyxia. Remember to break a window or install a roof fan to avoid moisture and respiratory problems. Even if you don’t suffocate, no one likes to breathe heavy, humid air on a hot morning!

Related Questions

  • Can you suffocate in a teardrop camper?

    Is It Possible To Suffocate In A Teardrop Trailer? Just because the smallest teardrop trailer has minimal interior space doesn’t mean you will suffocate while sleeping in it. There will be a vent for fresh air, as well as a window or two.

  • Can you suffocate in a closed tent?

    It’s a combination of oxygen (or possibly air) and carbon dioxide. However, a build-up of carbon MONoxide (CO) will NOT wake you up, and at sufficient concentration WILL kill you. Attempting to operate a stove in a sealed container may result in substantial CO levels. As a result, make sure your tent has a vent at the top.

  • Can living in a camper make you sick?

    Even if you utilize clean water, your freshwater system might make you sick. Water that sits in your RV’s holding tanks and water pipes might cause legionellosis. Pontiac fever is a pneumonia-like or flu-like sickness caused by these small bacteria.

  • Can you sleep in a moving camper?

    Seat belt rules are particularly vital while taking a brief snooze in a moving RV. If you can sleep while sitting upright in an RV passenger seat, you’re good to go! Just make sure you’re properly buckled in for your safety. Sleeping in an RV bed while someone is driving is not permitted.


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