It has been an up and down week as far as the temperatures go here in central Florida. We had severe weather warnings and even had Tornado warnings at some points. That was why last week’s blog post was not posted until Monday. We decided to beat feet and left the area until the warnings had passed…lol. It also got me thinking that this might be a good topic to concentrate on for this week’s blog post.
Severe Weather Can Affect Everyone
Severe weather can affect anyone. It does not matter if you live in sticks and bricks or an RV. Naturally, you will be safer in sticks and bricks and some sticks and bricks are actually designed for certain types of weather that are common for an area. That does not mean that if you are in sticks and bricks you are immune to the weather. Weather affects everyone. Since this site is about RV’ing, I will concentrate on the weather as it pertains to RV’ing and things you can do to prepare yourself for nasty weather.
I Am No Expert
I must say, before I go any further, I am no expert in disaster planning, doomsday prepping, or anything like that. There are all types of disasters that can take place. Weather, gas explosions, fires, sinkholes, and bombings are just to name a few. Like it or not, this is a strange world we live in and you must always expect the unexpected. Although some of these tips I will mention will work in multiple situations listed previously, this blog post is about weather emergencies only.
When faced with a weather emergency the most important thing you can do is remain calm. If you start to panic your thinking will not be rational and you might make some very bad decisions. Remaining calm will keep you in the best frame of mind to make those good decisions. Let’s take a quick look at some of the types of storms you may have to deal with. Lightning, hail, high winds, hurricanes, tornados, and flash floods are just a few.
Lightning– To a lot of people, Lightning looks really cool. I am one of those people. The one thing to keep in mind is that while lightning looks cool, it can also be extremely deadly. When thinking about lightning, don’t just think of a direct hit to your body. Lightning can also wreak havoc if it hits near you. If you are camping at an RV park, remember lightning can strike close to you and start a fire. If you hear thunder, it’s time to take shelter. Trying to get indoors and away from metal is the best thing you can do.
Hail– Although most times hail by itself is not deadly, it can cause a ton of damage. It is also mostly associated with other types of storms. If there are hail warnings, and you do not have time to move your rig, at least move your tow/toad vehicle to somewhere with cover. Hail can literally destroy vehicles. Do not take it lightly.
High winds/Hurricanes– Let’s face it. In an RV you’re not secured to the ground. Keep in mind, there does not have to be hurricane-force winds to topple your RV. Motorhomes probably weigh the most and travel trailers the least but whatever you’re in remember, you can be blown over. At the very least, remember if you have slide toppers, they can be destroyed quite easily. You might want to pull in the slide. It also depends on which way your RV is faced. If the winds are blowing directly at your side, it will make it much easier for your rig to blow over. Even if the winds are not enough to blow your rig over, keep in mind anything that the campground owners/managers or other campers have not put away can become flying projectiles so be careful about being near any windows in your rig. One thing we try and do is keep our freshwater and gray water tanks near full during a storm so we have a little extra weight down low. Hurricanes and high wind storms usually give you ample notice there coming. If they didn’t or you waited too long to make a decision and the storm is closing in or on top of you, do not try and move your RV to somewhere else to avoid the winds or storm, it’s too late. Trying to drive through a wind storm could be deadly. Find a place for you and your family to take cover that is secure.
Flash Floods– These are dangerous and quick. What seems like heavy rain can quickly turn into flash flooding. Know your surroundings. Are you camping near a river, lake, or stream? If not, are you in a low lying area? Is your area considered a flood zone? You need to know. The biggest mistake people make with flash flooding is waiting too long and then trying to drive away in the middle of it. According to the National Weather Service, just 6 inches of flowing water is enough to knock over an adult, 1 foot of flowing water can sweep away a small car, and just 2 feet of water can sweep away most other sized vehicles. Make sure you are listening to any and all flood warnings issued by the National Weather Service and follow their advice. The most obvious advice is to get to higher ground.
Tornados– Unlike hurricanes and other weather systems, tornados can strike with very little or no warning at all. The biggest weapons you have against a tornado is having a weather radio and/or weather apps and a solid plan. Do not take these warnings lightly. Know your escape route ahead of time. If your RV park has tornado shelters, know where they are. If not know where any other solidly built buildings on the grounds are located. If you are lucky enough to have been warned, leave. If not with the RV, at least get in your vehicle and head to an area outside of the warnings. This past Sunday, we had warnings ahead of time and decided to get in the truck and head to a different area of Florida until the storms were over. The RV is replaceable, we are not.
These are some of the weather incidents you will have to deal with while living on the road. Hopefully, I have not scared you into changing your mind about full-time RV’ing. Keep in mind, you would be dealing with these same incidents in sticks and bricks and would need a solid plan also. Now let’s take a look at some of the prep work you can do ahead of time.
One of the first steps we took when planning for a weather emergency actually started in the downsizing phase. It was originally intended to help us shed weight and make room in the RV but doubles as a good step in your emergency planning.
In our downsizing phase, we decided to scan our memorabilia, important documents, pictures, and receipts. We scan them and then store them in the cloud. We took all our print pictures and scanned them. Now, all our scanned and future pictures go on cloud-based storage. We joined one called Flickr. Flickr is a cloud-based picture storage company that once you sign up will give you one Terabyte of free storage. That is a lot of pictures!!! There are many companies just like Flickr and even Amazon and Walmart have got into the picture storage game. Just research which ones will work best for you and start scanning. A lot of work? Yes, but in my opinion, well worth it. The same goes with your documents, receipts, and memorabilia. I am a little nutty in the fact that I save all my kids cards from things like birthday, Christmas, father’s day, etc. All in the cloud.
Flickr Work Great
The way we do it is we put all our pictures and memorabilia in Flickr and all our documents in the iCloud. Apple only gives you 5 Gigabytes of free storage so only documents go in there. They take up much less memory than pictures. I am also a spreadsheet geek. I love spreadsheets. I have one for everything. Budgets, purchases, medical and dental expenses, etc. Also in the ICloud. There are certain things that you will always need physical items for. Birth certificates, vehicle titles, social security cards, just to name a few. We scanned them also just so we would have the information if something were to happen. We also purchased a fire-resistant safe and securely mounted it into the RV. Not foolproof but again precautionary. Remember, if something were to happen, all the information to get replacement documents are in the cloud as is all our memories.
Remember Your Passwords
I think I have hammered home the importance of saving/ backing up all your documentation. We feel with a certain confidence that if some type of storm were to destroy the RV completely, we would still have access to everything that matters from virtually any computer. Your biggest problem at that point would be to make sure you remember your cloud passwords…lol
You Need A Weather Radio
Now that your documents, pictures, and memories are safe, what else can you do once you hit the road? The number one thing is to keep yourself informed. We purchased a weather radio. Every time we relocate, we look up the codes for our area and program them into the radio. We also have about 3 different weather apps and radar apps on our smartphones. They work awesome. If you’re asking why do you need a weather radio if you have all these apps, it’s simple. Most people, myself included, turn their ringers or volumes off when they go to bed. All the apps in the world will do you no good if you can’t hear them…lol. The weather radio is on at full blast at all times. It has a battery backup should the power go out. We keep it in the main living section of the RV right under a window so we get the best reception. Let me tell you, it has gone off in the middle of the night and nearly sent Chris and me through the roof, scaring the crap out of us. It’s loud. isn’t that the point, though?
Do Not Underestimate The Weather
The big thing to remember is even though you have all these devices if you don’t heed their warnings they are useless. Do not underestimate the weather. Listen to the warnings. Even if you get woken up at 2 am. There are many weather-related weather websites but we find the National Weather Service to Be one of the most informative. Here is a link to their website. You might want to bookmark this website so you can relate back to it for information.
Whether you are checking into an RV park or boondocking make sure you educate yourself on the area you are in. What types of weather is that area prone to? Where are the shelters? If there are no shelters, where is there a solid preferably brick or block type building you can get to in a hurry? Are there any public storm shelters in the area. Make sure you get the local emergency numbers. Fire, police, Ambulance and keep them handy. Better yet, put them on your phone. You can change the info to reflect each area you are in. If you are at an RV park, ask while checking in. Otherwise, search engines are your friend. However, you do it is fine, just make sure it’s the first thing you do after setting up.
You Need A Go Bag
One last thing I would like to mention is to always have some kind of bag ready in case you have to leave the RV in a hurry. Leave it near the door so if you need to run out you don’t waste time looking for it. Just grab and go. Inside should contain your wallet and purse. Yes, you will have to drop it in and take it out each day. If you lay it at the top, it only takes a second. Also, include a day or two change of clothes. In order to save space and keep it light, instead of jeans, we throw in a pair of extra sweatpants. Take at least a week of your medications with you. You can buy one of those plastic containers just about anywhere. This way at least you have a week worth of meds. If something were to happen to your RV and you lose the rest of your meds, you could hopefully refill your lost meds within the week. Flashlights, phone chargers, and batteries are all good to throw in. We have flashlight apps on our phone that we find quite helpful. Having a couple of food bars and a few bottles of water are also good items to throw in. One thing to remember, if you followed my advice about storing things on a cloud service, taking your phone with you is like taking a complete file cabinet with you. That leaves your bag to carry more immediate needs.
We Use A Gym Bag
You do not have to make up a big suitcase of a bag for this. We use a gym bag to carry the items mentioned above. If you have pets, you better throw some scooby snacks into that bag!!!…lol. All in all, being prepared is your best defense. Do not become so consumed every day as to what might happen. Get out there, travel, and enjoy yourself. If bad weather comes your way, relax, you have a plan, you got this!!!
If you have any other ideas or I have missed something you think may help, feel free to leave a comment below.