Good Sam RV Travel Guide & Campground Directory

RV Safety Checklists for Camping in Bad Weather Conditions

By Alan Lidstone

While RVers don’t usually plan on camping during bad or dangerous weather, it is important to keep informed about dangerous situations, whether driving or in the campground. RVers frequently cover several hundred miles a day. You can start out on a mild, clear day and possibly encounter heavy rains, tornados, high winds or hurricanes, fire conditions, snow, and icing conditions along your route or at your destination.

Disastrous storms hit Volusia County, Florida in February 2007 damaging more than 1500 homes with approximately 21 fatalities and an even larger set of storms that ranged east on a rampage as far north as Wisconsin and as far south as Louisiana, causing fatalities and extensive damage in Missouri, Georgia and Alabama in early March.

RVers traveling or staying at RV resorts or campgrounds near the coast from Texas to New England need to monitor the hurricane season that runs from the 1st of June through the end of November. While people in proximity to the coastline have the most danger from hurricane-force winds, it is possible for extensive flooding, high winds, and widespread utility outages to extend hundreds miles or more inland.

Keeping Informed – RVs on the road can cover several hundred miles a day and RVers have a number of ways to keep aware of weather conditions, including:

  • Select a mobile wireless phone and service that provides weather information

  • Use one of the buttons on your radio to set the Road Information station posted on selected high traffic Interstate roads (they advise drivers of road closures, delays, and construction)

  • Always travel with an emergency radio that has the 7 NOAA weather channels. Keep the radio turned on at all times, whether driving or parked.

  • Stay at RV resorts and campgrounds that have cable-TV with the Weather Channel even if you have a satellite dish because trees or heavy clouds may prevent getting an adequate satellite-TV signal

  • RVers with satellite dishes should monitor weather conditions along their route, stopping points, and destination on the Weather Channel. In-motion satellite dishes enable a passenger to check the Weather Channel while the RV is traveling

  • RVers with satellite radio can check weather conditions from the appropriate news and weather stations

  • Bring your laptop computer and accessories (telephone cord, modem, Wi-Fi card, etc.) for Internet access at RV resorts, campgrounds, and hot-spots, such as Flying J, to check weather along your route and sending/receiving E-mail.

Being Prepared - We suggest the following suggestions to help RVers handle delays or being temporarily stranded while roads are cleared and utility services restored:

  • Travel with a wireless mobile phone and charger.

  • Carry adequate maps and a good road atlas to find alternate routes.

  • Use a GPS navigation system. RVers that travel with a computer should consider a good mapping and routing computer program such as DeLorme Street Atlas, and a GPS device to track and determine your actual location.

  • Keep the RV and toad fuel tank, propane tank, and fresh water tank filled.

  • Make sure your RV antenna, cable connection and satellite hookups are working properly.

  • RVers who do not have automatic awnings that retract in high winds or flexing situations should retract awnings while they are away from the RV.

  • Travel with an adequate supply of prescription medications.

  • Travel with a campground directory to find accommodations (check for cable access to receive the Weather Channel).

  • Maintain the correct air pressure in the RV and toad tires.

  • Make sure that the flashlights, batteries, tools, and protective weather apparel are in the RV

  • Do not set up an RV site in canyons or next to creek or streambeds subject to flash flooding. If you can see a nearby hill, you may be in a potential flood area.

  • Make sure you know at least two ways out of your RV site in the event of downed trees, downed electrical lines, or flooding.

  • Carry sufficient cash to cover expenses (gas, food, accommodations, etc.) for at least several days.

Seek an approved shelter immediately if you are caught on the open road during the approach of severe conditions such as tornados, high winds, poor visibility, fires or flooding. If you are camping in an unfamiliar area, call 911 to advise Emergency Services you are on the open road and need directions to a safe location or shelter. An RV offers very limited protection and can be extremely dangerous to life and limb during severe weather.

Read more on Weather Tools to Know About When Camping".

Remember, Safety First, and Happy RVing!!!

Alan Lidstone is a freelance author and writer living in southwest Florida. Alan, and his wife, Barbara, co-authored RVs - Getting out and STAYING Out, from Fulcrum Publishing of Golden, Colorado, and they write and publish the 24-page Roads 'n Toads - RVing in Florida newsletter providing timely information on activities and products that help RVers get the most from the RV lifestyle.