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Traveling in an RV can be a one-of-a-kind experience, but when you find yourself caught in the middle of a severe thunderstorm, your spontaneous road trip can go downhill pretty quickly. While it’s difficult to predict the way severe weather could impact your travel plans, knowing how to handle hazardous weather events as they happen or loom closer can keep you and your family safe.
Before heading out on that RV trip of a lifetime, here are six things you need to know that will prepare you for any possible trouble with Mother Nature down the road:
How to Handle Severe Weather Situations in Your RV
When you catch word that you’ll be experiencing a severe storm in an RV, it pays to be prepared. There are many ways to wait out a storm, but here are the main things you should be doing:
1. Keep Yourself Informed
If you’re in an area with access to a Wi-Fi connection, or you packed a battery-operated radio, you’ll hear about a storm hours or even days before it hits. However, relying on your cell phone for communication can put you in dangerous situations if the battery runs out, so opt for multiple sources of information, like a portable NOAA-certified weather radio.
When you’re planning your travel route, check the weather on each day you will be out to ensure you don’t get caught in the middle of hazardous weather. Plan around the expected weather patterns, avoiding areas that will put you in the immediate radius of the storm, and make necessary arrangements, even if that includes moving the road trip to another week.
2. Prepare an Emergency Kit
Like a first-aid kit, packing an emergency kit is a way to prevent an emergency situation from worsening. This kit may include flashlights, gasoline, non-perishable food items, medication, and anything else that may be necessary in the event of a weather-induced event like power outages and severe winds. Moreover, if you haven’t added a water pump to your RV, packing an abundant supply of water is important to stay hydrated.
You may also want to consider temperatures and precipitation—supplies like blankets, warm coats, and propane, for instance, can be useful when using your RV in freezing weather conditions.
3. Locate Your Nearest Storm Shelter
If a severe weather warning has been issued, and you’re stuck in an RV, your best possible option is to seek out a storm shelter where you can wait out the duration of the storm. While your RV can certainly protect you from mild rain, most parked RVs can withstand wind speeds of up to 75 mph (120km/h) without tipping over, making your RV a dangerous place to be during a tornado watch.
The moment you hear word of a tornado likely heading your way, aim to abandon your RV as soon as possible and make your way to safety. If a storm shelter isn’t available, move into a concrete building or seek shelter in a low-lying area, such as a ravine or ditch along the road.
4. Look into Evacuation Routes
As soon as you reach your stopping point for the night, week, or any other period, start checking for evacuation routes as a precaution. Hurricanes, wildfires, and other dangerous weather events can force guests and residents to evacuate any given area immediately. In the event of a severe weather situation, having a pre-planned evacuation route will allow you to leave quickly before the storm hits and find appropriate shelter as soon as possible.
5. Ensure Batteries, Tanks, and Bags Are Full
Similar to any long road trip, it’s important to double-check electronics are fully charged, gasoline tanks are full, and bags are packed before heading out in your RV. Having your RV break down in the middle of the road due to an empty tank is a dangerous situation to be in when a severe weather warning has been issued. In the event that you may need to call an emergency phone line like a tow-truck company or 9-1-1, having your phone charged and ready can get you help quickly.
6. Make an Emergency Weather Plan
Once you have a better understanding of what needs to be done in the event of a severe weather situation, write everything you know down on paper. This can include addresses of local storm shelters, emergency numbers, or even your knowledge of what wind speeds are dangerous for RVs. If you become caught in dangerous weather conditions, having a detailed plan in front of you can reduce the risk of panic during situations that require critical thinking.
4 Weather Warnings You Should Be Aware Of (And What to Do If You See Them)
As you look for information from local news sources, you may come across certain weather warnings that indicate the severity of the coming weather. To help you become more aware of the four common weather warnings, here is a list of their various meanings:
1. Weather outlook
Issued when a hazardous weather event is on the way within the next week or so. Outlooks are issued to notify the public of potentially-severe weather conditions that could threaten life or property. When you see a weather outlook, stay cautious in your area and begin making necessary preparations like gathering supplies and getting your RV out of a possible storm target.
2. Weather advisory
Issued when a hazardous weather event will be occurring, imminent, or likely to happen in the near future. Intended to pose caution for less-serious weather conditions, a weather advisory aims to give you last-minute preparation, up to a few hours or more, before the storm hits your area. Make quick arrangements to lessen the potential impact the storm has on you and your property, like heading to a storm shelter or an internal room away from windows during a hurricane.
3. Weather watch
Issued when there is an increased risk of a hazardous weather event occurring, but it’s still unknown when or where it will occur. A weather watch is intended to provide you with increased caution within your area, as it may or may not be impacted by the storm. Continue listening for information from local news sources and create a plan of action for if the storm hits your area, such as abandoning your RV and seeking out safer shelter.
4. Weather warning
Issued when a hazardous weather event is occurring, imminent, or likely to happen at any moment. This warning notifies the public of impending weather conditions that pose a serious threat to life or property. If you see a weather warning, it means you need to immediately carry out your plan of action and evacuate unsafe areas, taking protective measures in the path of the storm.
Staying Safe in Your RV Is All About Preparation
Although hazardous weather like thunderstorms and tornadoes are often unpredictable in terms of how they will strike or the damage they will cause, being prepared for when they occur can save lives. If you end up getting stuck in a severe storm, freezing weather conditions, or wind speeds that are dangerous in an RV, having the appropriate supplies and a plan of action ready will keep you safe in the event that you need to evacuate or move quickly.
Now that you have a thorough understanding of weather safety in an RV, take a look at our other post that explains what a full-time RVer should know before making the switch to open-road living.