One of the questions I hear most about living in an RV is, “Living in a space that small….....
Preparing for Hurricane Season in your RV
Today (June 1) marks the first day of the 2022 hurricane season, which ends on November 30. Do you have a plan for what you and your family will do if nasty weather is headed for you?
When we decided to sell our coastal Florida home and move into an RV two years ago, one of the things I was most excited about was never again installing aluminum hurricane shutters on the second-floor sticks-and-bricks windows. Hurricane prep was always a bit stressful and depending on the storm's track and intensity, we would debate endlessly on whether or not to evacuate or to stay in our home to ride out the storm. Not anymore!
Our home has wheels; we intend to use them. Hurricanes, unlike other unpredictable natural disasters, come with a built-in warning period of at least a few days if not longer. Whether your RV is your full-time residence like ours, or if you have an RV you use occasionally, this gift of advanced warning allows you to evacuate with the comforts of home. When in doubt.... our philosophy is to hit the road. RVs are simply not a safe place to shelter in a severe storm such as a hurricane.
Here are a few tips to help you prepare for hitting the road when the
storm clouds are rolling in!
1. Top Off Your Gas and Fresh Tanks. If evacuation is indicated, chances are that your local gas stations will begin to get crowded quickly! Go early and fill up your gas tanks for your RV and generator, or better yet... get into the habit of having these topped off whenever possible during storm season so you don't have to maneuver your rig through droves of other vehicles at the station! (If you share my opinion-- it's difficult enough when there's an entire lane to yourself at the outside pumps!) Check your oil supply for your generator as well if that's how you plan on running your rig. Gasoline and oil aren't the only supplies to top off-- we'd recommend filling your fresh water tank when evacuating as well! Many RV parks turn off their water valves as part of advanced hurricane preparations, and it might be a while before you have an opportunity to restock your fresh supply.
2. Empty Your Black and Grey Tanks. Your gasoline and fresh tanks are full-- make sure your black and grey tanks are not! Make sure you start your evacuation journey with empty tanks, as you can't be sure when the next opportunity will arise to dump your tanks.
3. Check your Go-Bag of important documents. Don't have one? Get one. This is not hurricane-specific.... these are items we keep in a water-proof, fire-proof briefcase-style safe that's grab-and-go for life on the road. Here's what we keep in ours: Important Legal Papers, Contacts and Phone Numbers (because do you really have the VIP phone numbers memorized if your phone was dead?), Copies of Prescriptions, Insurance policies, etc. We have our important photos and documents scanned into an external hard drive and backed up to the cloud, but having these items at an arm's length can make a rushed evacuation less stressful if you have to make a quick decision to leave the RV and take cover in another location.
4. Stock up on the Essentials. Not unlike sticks and bricks homes, RVers need to have supplies collected. Food, especially non-perishable food that can be prepared off the grid, is a given. Other than food, what else will be helpful?
- Cash. Stop by the ATM before hitting the road, as there may be significant areas of power outages along your route.
- Flashlights that actually work. That one in your drawer that doesn't work?..... Throw it away. It's time.
- Pet supplies. Running out and needing to switch up dog food brands to whatever the truck stop has available is the last thing you need to be worried about when a CAT-3 storm is headed your direction. Let's keep life for our furry friends and their tummies as predictable as possible..... stock up now while the skies are clear.
- Battery banks. Fully charge a few portable battery banks for your phones and other necessary devices for when power might be in limited supply.
- Personal items. Diapers/wipes, TP, personal hygiene supplies, and all those other things that don't go bad when you stock up! No sense in wasting time battling long lines for these items when the sky turns black.
5. Weather Radio Solutions: We personally travel with a CB radio, but also have a versatile weather radio in the truck just in case. It can utilize five power sources including a hand crank, solar panel, and AC power to make it easier to keep the radio running during a prolonged situation with power loss. Tune in to a NOAA weather band, use the flashlight feature, plug in your headphones, and even charge a device for a quick call if needed.
6. Generator Prep. You shopped for a generator to keep your rig powered up..... but are you sure you're actually ready? We talked about the fuel and oil you'll need, but do you need an adaptor? You may need a dogbone adaptor to actually plug into your rig, with options ranging from 30/30amp, 30/50amp, and three or four-prong options as needed to match the locking plug on your rig. Once you find yourself in the 'cone of doom' on the forecast, finding these accessories will be expensive at best, and impossible at worst. Do a dry run now to make sure you're as prepared as you think you are!
7. Walk-Around Inspection--- Now. Don't wait until you're stressed and rushed at the height of hurricane season to take your time and inspect your rig and vehicles. Do your seals need attention? Are your gutters clogged before the storm even starts? How's your tire pressure? Giving some TLC to areas on your roof in need of Dicor may be the difference in keeping you completely leak-free if driving through heavy rains. You'll thank yourself later if you're thorough now!
8. Remember Windy Driving is Different Driving. You may be a veteran RVer, or this may be your first hurricane season behind the wheel of a brand new rig. Here's your reminder--- driving in gusty wind in an RV is NOT the same as driving another vehicle. When in Kansas last year, we had gusts up to 40mph while driving across the state, and my knuckles were definitely white. I felt like our RV had turned into a sail on the ocean, with gusts unpredictably shoving the rig. If you're expecting wind higher than that, just don't risk it. 50mph+ gusts can flip your RV depending on conditions. Wind shear from big rigs, paired with driving rain and standing water on the road combines with gusty wind to make extremely stressful driving conditions. Lower your speed, put both hands on the wheel, and try to find a place to pull over with a possible wind break to assist.
Boardwalk RV Park, Emerald Isle via News Observer
What if it's too late to evacuate, or hitting the road
just isn't possible?
Perhaps you've decided to stay put in the RV for a borderline-intensity storm, or you're in a position to abandon the RV and take cover somewhere more safe without bringing the rig. Here are some tips for securing your RV when evacuation just isn't in the cards:
- Close Up Shop. This one seems quite obvious, but make sure all your vent covers, awnings, fans and windows are closed and locked to keep the weather out of your rig.
- Slides in. Bringing in your slides will give less surface area for wind, hail, leakage, etc. to touch your rig. Also, this will help with a lower profile and center of gravity if you secure tie-downs for your rig. Hopefully if the weather is rough enough to be weighing these options, you will be seeking shelter elsewhere, so having those slides in won't cramp your style!
- Tie-Down. This one is a little controversial-- some folks think this isn't worth the effort and may cause more damage to the RV, and others find that it gives them peace of mind. You may want to consider having some tie-downs at your disposal if the winds are kicking. (90mph+ winds are the typical threshold for ability to flip over a standard travel trailer.) You know your own rig the best and what makes you comfortable.
- Get higher when you can. When possible, even if you aren't leaving town, get to the highest point in the RV park you're able to access. Extended rain in flat RV parks are ripe for standing flood waters even after the storm passes. A few feet of elevation might be the difference between a total insurance claim and a dry rig.
- Hitch Up. If you have a towable RV and your tow vehicle isn't leaving town, many RVers choose to hitch up for added weight and stability during gusty big storms.
- Clean Up. If possible, move from underneath trees or areas with high amounts of debris. Even if that isn't possible, you can still clean up anything that may become a projectile. Bring in or secure your flagpoles, chairs, signage, grills, or anything that can move. Your rig (and your neighbors!) will thank you.
Stuff is Replaceable. You are Not.
Whatever you decide as part of your family's hurricane plan, we hope you stay safe! Belongings, including your rig, are replaceable! Wind, rain, debris and flood waters are no joke, so we urge you to play it safe! Many parks and fairgrounds accommodate evacuees looking for a place to go! Check out the 'Parks Near Me' feature on Spot2Nite if you feel like you've traveled a safe distance and need a place to regroup and stay for the night. Better yet-- use the bad weather as an excuse to take that long-haul trip you've been eyeing!
Do you have any tips and tricks you use to get your family ready for big storms? Do you have any supplies that make your life easier while you evacuate? We'd love to hear from you in the comment section, and please consider subscribing in the green box below so you never miss a post!