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By John Huggins
Severe weather, forest fires, earthquakes, floods and other natural disasters can come at any time or any place where we travel. Spring tornadoes in the Midwest, fall hurricanes in the southeast, and many other possible conditions can cause major damage and even loss of life.
Good safety practices can save your life when you are prepared and know what to do. The effects of severe weather are magnified when you are traveling in an RV. High winds can easily topple our high-profile motorhomes and trailers.
Ask the campground staff at the front desk where the closest severe weather shelter is located. If there isn’t a designated shelter, look for a building made of block construction. Most bath houses fit this description.
The worst place to be in this type of emergency is in an RV which can be blown over by strong winds or set afloat during a flood.
Be sure to ask what county you are in as well as the names of some surrounding counties. This will be a big help when listening to emergency advisories in areas you have never visited.
The “go bag”
What things do you take with you when evacuating to a shelter or out of the area? Good question. The answer is a “go bag.”
A go bag will contain the essentials to get you through a stressful period away from your rig. Any bag will do, but a zippered gym bag is probably the easiest to grab and go, if it is ALWAYS in the same place and constantly filled with up-to-date items.
Here are some of the essential components of a go bag:
- A small battery-operated weather radio that can get all the weather bands. I recommend the American Red Cross FRX3+ emergency weather radio with smartphone charger, ARCFRX3+WXR, available on Amazon for under $50. It has all weather bands, AM, FM, and cell phone charger with hand crank battery charger.
- I have a large-capacity flash drive on my key chain with up-to-date copies of all my important files, including:
- Photos of labels from medicine bottles and packages.
- Photo of eyeglass prescription(s).
- Photos of driver’s licenses, credit cards and passports.
- Photos of insurance policies.
- A PDF (or printed page or two) with phone numbers and addresses of family members, doctors, pharmacy, lawyer, broker, insurance agent, and other people you may need to contact.
- Pet information and vaccinations.
- Inside and outside photos of your RV along with pictures of the insides of all storage compartments to show insurance adjusters.
- Several days of essential medications.
- Cell phones with car chargers or USB chargers that plug into a wall outlet. I would make sure you have some weather safety apps on your phone. We have The Weather Channel, and Radar Now.
- Several small flashlights, preferably with LED lamp and extra batteries.
- An extra set of keys for your RV, tow or towed vehicle, and even your house.
- Several bottles of water and perhaps a few protein bars for each person.
- Change of clothes for each person, especially if going out of the area.
- A small first aid kit.
- Items for each pet, like leashes and toys. If you travel with pets, include them in your emergency planning. Most shelters that allow pets require them to be in cages. You will also need to bring pet food for several days when you evacuate.
This is a bare minimal list of items that I consider to be essential. You may want to bring other items. Just remember that the bag must be easily carried and always available.
Whatever you take with you in that bag may be all you have until the threatening conditions are over. Choose wisely and give it some thought. Your safety in emergency conditions is serious business, and preparation and knowledge can save your life.