Severe weather should be a concern for any homeowner, though when a home is on wheels, the risk is elevated.
Motorhomes and travel trailers are unsafe structures to shelter within during extreme weather, such as tornadoes, blizzards, hurricanes, high winds, flooding and wildfires. It’s imperative RVers have a plan of action in the event of storms and other poor weather conditions.
KNOW THE WARNINGS
The National Weather Service has outlined its definitions of weather warnings. While traveling in an RV, occupants should understand each threat level and plan trips around predicted weather accordingly.
Unlike regular "zone forecasts" issued by a local National Weather Service office, climatological outlooks provide probability forecasts for both temperature and precipitation, divided into three groups: below normal, near normal and above normal. These can be good indicators of potential weather patterns RVers may encounter. We recommend checking weather outlooks before embarking on an excursion.
A warning is issued when a hazardous weather or hydrologic event is occurring, imminent or likely. A warning means weather conditions pose a threat to life or property. RVers in the path of the storm need to take protective action.
An advisory is issued when a hazardous weather or hydrologic even is occurring, imminent or likely. Advisories are for less serious conditions than warnings that can cause significant inconvenience and, if caution is not exercised, could lead to situations that may threaten life or property. RVers should have a plan in place in the event an advisory is elevated to a warning.
A watch is used when the risk of a hazardous weather or hydrologic event has increased significantly, but its occurrence, location or timing is still uncertain. It is intended to provide enough lead time so those who need to set their plans in motion can do so. RVers should have a plan of action in case a storm threatens and they should listen for later information and possible warnings.
For more weather warning definitions, visit the NWS website.
KNOW THE SURROUNDINGS
RVers should familiarize themselves with campsite evacuation procedures and nearby shelters. Bath houses and community rooms are the most commonly found permanent structures at RV parks.
If driving, RVers should locate the closest exit and seek shelter in a public, permanent structure, if possible, such as a gas station or restaurant. Travelers should also take note of landmarks and nearby roads, which can assist emergency crews in locating distressed RVers during rescue operations.
PACK A BAG
Often referred to as a go bag, bug-out bag or 72-hour bag, RVers should assemble an emergency pack for worst-case scenarios and keep it on hand. Go bags should provide for at least 72 hours of food, water and shelter — the average time it takes for rescue crews to locate and retrieve those in need during disaster situations. RVers should consider these items when assembling a go bag.
- First-aid kit
- Survival straw/water purification tablets
- Fully charged cellphone
- Fully charged USB/travel batteries
- Solar battery charger
- Jackets, raincoats
- Flashlights with new batteries
- Credit cards/ATM cards
- ID/driver’s license
- Non-perishable, calorically dense food
- Gum (to help stave off potential hunger)
- Thermal blankets
- Spare eyeglasses
- Battery-powered radio
- Insurance policy and contacts
- Emergency contacts and phone numbers
- Extra water, pet food, harness/leash and a carrier, if traveling with a pet
ABANDON THE VEHICLE
Though not ideal, abandoning one’s motorhome or trailer may be a necessary last resort during a natural disaster or extreme weather. Rigs can be replaced; once lost, the lives of loved ones cannot be restored.