Summer and spring seasons are the most vulnerable to destructive thunderstorms, flash floods, hurricanes, and tornadoes. While you’re enjoying your spring and summer RV vacation, an unexpected storm may be brewing. These tips will help you be prepared for bad weather that can occur when you least expect it.
While it is difficult to predict Mother Nature, you can take steps ahead of time to prepare yourself for potential storms, minimize damage, and keep your family safe.
First, when planning a trip be aware of weather forecasts. RVs can be a dangerous place to be in a storm, so the best option is to avoid storms if at all possible. When we were traveling to Florida during hurricane season, we kept an eye on the NOAA website and are prepared to cancel our trip or leave early if a hurricane forms.
Not all storms give as much warning. Tornados are one of them. While we know that most tornadoes strike during March through June, tornadoes have occurred in other months of the year. One important piece of equipment every RV should have is a weather alert radio. These radios have a battery backup so you are sure to receive the warning even if you are dry camping and don’t have shore power.
It’s also important to know the difference between a weather watch and a weather warning:
- A watch means that there is a high possibility that severe weather will occur. You should continue to listen for key information and pay attention to visible weather changes
- A warning means that severe weather is already happening or will happen very soon. This is the time for you and your family to take immediate action.
Before you leave home, you’ll want to devise your plan for what to do if you find yourself caught in a sudden storm. Discuss the plan with the entire family so everyone knows to act quickly.
In many cases, the plan will be to leave the RV and seek shelter. Therefore it is a good idea to prepare an emergency supply kit or grab bag and place it somewhere in your RV that is accessible.
Your kit you should include things like bottled water, snacks, jackets, a first aid kit, a battery operated flashlight and radio, prescription medications, insurance information, and cash. Also, be sure to keep sturdy shoes and jackets near the door of your camper.
Here’s how to plan for several different storms or natural disasters.
Thunderstorms have numerous dangers including lightning, high winds, and floods. Make sure the entire family knows to move indoors during a thunderstorm. There is no safe place outdoors when lightning is present.
Some other steps you should take if thunderstorms are predicted include: pulling in your awnings and packing up loose items outside to prevent them from being blown around.
Before venturing outside after a storm, be aware that high winds and lightning can break large tree branches off and down power lines.
Flash floods are one of the top weather-related killers in the U.S. each year and should be taken very seriously. Again, avoiding areas where this could happen is the best step.
The best option is to avoid camping in low-lying areas in case heavy thunderstorms move in quickly. Also, avoid setting up camp near a stream or river in case it overflows.
If you are in a danger zone, head to high ground as soon as you know there is a flash flood watch or warning in effect.
As previously mentioned, hurricanes that make landfall usually allow warning for those in its path because they build strength over the ocean before making their way to the coast.
Never attempt to ride out a hurricane in an RV. Plan to evacuate, and do it as soon as possible so you don’t get caught in significant traffic or horrible weather.
Tornadoes are the most unpredictable of all storms and can appear with little to no warning. If you’re traveling in areas that are prone to tornadoes, be sure to ask about storm shelters as soon as arriving at the campground.
The best refuge is underground. If that is not possible, try the campground bathhouse, putting as many walls between you and the outdoors as possible and stay away from windows.
If you’re nowhere near a shelter when the tornado hits, the best thing you can do is lie as flat as you can in a ditch, ravine, creek bed, or another low-lying area.
Most importantly, don’t forget that you and your family’s safety is more important than any possessions including your RV. Don’t try to save your possessions. They can be replaced. You and your family cannot.
Take inclement weather seriously, be prepared, and evacuate if needed. If you work it into your trip planning you should be able to find a way to stay safe.
How do you stay prepared for storms and natural disasters? Leave a comment below!