Severe weather can be dangerous in a brick and mortar home. Being in an RV, the situation’s even worse. Extremely high winds could topple your rig or worse, shake it around like a cardboard box. Even moderate winds can blow off your awning. Very high winds can topple those beautiful shade trees you are parked under right on top of your rig. Flooding, and especially flash flooding, could easily carry you away.
I grew up in Oklahoma. We know tornadoes and high straight winds. It is not unusual for someone to say,” Sure feels tornadoy today.” The other person will agree and then we talk about airing out the fraidy hole and keeping the family close by.
You sure don’t want to be in your motorhome or trailer during a serious storm, no matter what. So how can you avoid that scary scenario?
The following are some simple steps to take when you’re camping in an RV and the weather takes a turn for the worse.
Plan around the weather.
Choosing destinations that are warm, sunny, and stable at the time of your trip is the easiest and most obvious way to avoid having to deal with extreme weather events. We have had some very severe storms including tornadoes this spring in Oklahoma.
Spring is usually the hight of our tornado season, but severe storms and yes even tornadoes happen just about any time of the year. High winds blow through even on a cloudless day. When we plan to camp here in Oklahoma, we check the weather forecast for the time we will be camping and on the road. Always pay attention to extreme weather warnings.
Even if your destination is normally temperate during the season you’re there, you still want to keep an eye on the live weather report and forecast information to make sure you’re aware of any sudden changes.
And if reports do show a severe weather warning, take it seriously! This is no time to second guess the meteorologist. Meteorologists have amazing equipment now and forecast pretty accurately.
Be aware of where you are and the exact location. In the event of an emergency, you’ll want to be able to report the address of your location to authorities. Know what county you are in. Many weather advisories go by county, I keep a map in the RV that shows counties.
We all want the shade of course. And parked near a beautiful lake is relaxing and enjoyable. Trees with low-hanging branches, nearby bodies of water, and other natural or manmade objects can quickly become dangerous in an extreme weather situation. I am not trying to scare you into parking in the middle nowhere, but again, know your surroundings so you can take the potential hazards into account according to weather predictions.
There are tons of weather apps for smartphones. Many of these are free and can even be set up to provide audible notifications about severe weather warnings, which could help keep you safe in the event of a major storm. Also, check weather predictions for the area you are traveling and camping. There’s usually at least a few hours notice before a really bad storm hits. With today’s radar and weather tracking technology, there’s absolutely no reason to be surprised when the wind starts swirling and the thunder starts booming. Yes, storms can brew unexpectedly, but most times the long-range forecast can alert you to potential weather problems.
Keep your emergency kit well stocked. Make sure you have flashlights, batteries, and backup cell phone charge banks. First aid kit, extra food, and water on board is a good idea at all times, just in case.
Grills, chairs, and anything else that you’ve got set up outside can get blown around and potentially cause other damage during a bad storm. The safest thing to do is secure them or put them away. Your awning should be rolled up to prevent damage. I cannot tell you how many awnings I have seen go flying off while people were gone and a sudden storm blew in. Actually anytime you leave your camper for an extended period of time, bring in the awning and secure your outside stuff.
This tip is not only for possible bad weather but is a good idea just to have ready. A backpack or sturdy tote that contains any important documents you’ve brought with you, enough necessary medication for a few days, a few bottles of water, some nonperishable food, cell phone chargers, and anything else you can’t live without for a few days. Remember, if you have to leave your vehicle due to extreme weather or any other emergency, you probably won’t have much time to gather belongings. If you have a pet, have a bag for them too that has sufficient food, meds, and a nice towel.
When you arrive at your stopping point for the night, week, or longer, be sure to look into the evacuation routes. It is not just storms we should be prepared for. Flash floods, wildfires, and other conditions can require evacuation at a moment’s notice.
If there’s a looming threat of severe weather, plan activities that will keep you out of the elements and in a safe, sheltered place. Nearby museums, shopping, or other places that keep a roof over your head are the best options. Save outdoor events for another sunny day, which will come.
Double check your insurance coverage. Your RV’s insurance may or may not cover storm-related damages. Check ahead of time to see what’s covered, and negotiate with the company for more coverage if you need it.
If you receive notification of extremely bad weather, GET OUT of the RV! Even though your rig and possessions are expensive, they’re replaceable but your life and your family’s lives are not. Seek shelter outside of your RV if you don’t have time to leave the campground. Concrete bathrooms and shower houses would be a good place to hunker down. Take pillows and blankets to cover your head and bodies.
Thinking about camping in extreme weather conditions is scary. I am writing this as a precaution as the weather has been pretty scary here. Our nearby lake and camping area has been evacuated because of flooding.
Fortunately, most of us will never have to deal with camping in a storm. It is as important to plan for the weather as it is to plan for anything else while building your trip. Check the extended forecast so you can prepare to pick up and move on well enough ahead of time to avoid storms brewing on the horizon. You’ll stay safer, be at ease and will have sunny days to play.
Never take chances!
Happy and Safe RVing!