What To Do When Stormy Weather Hits Your Campground

You’re­ on what you ho­pe­ will be a leisurely RV camping­ trip. It’s a warm summer afternoon.

Following several days of rain, one RVer leaves Catalina State Park near Tucson, Arizona

Following several days of rain, one RVer leaves Catalina State Park near Tucson, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Suddenly, a few raindrops splat your arms, and before you know it, the sky opens up. Then you hear thunder in the distance. What should you do to ensure your family’s safety?

Stormy weather can happen at any time, anywhere.

What to do when it storms at your campsite is a common question for many campers—especially when they’re camping during the steamy, thunderstorm-prone summer months. Thunderstorms are common throughout the US and Canada, but they occur most frequently during the summer months in the Southeast, Midwest, and Great Plains.

While yo­ur best choice depends on the severity of the storm and your location, being prepared to act quickly could be a matter of survival. Knowing what to do before, during, and following severe weather is a critical part of being prepared and may make all the difference when seconds count.

Be Informed

Know the risk in your area for hurricanestornadosthunderstorms, damaging winds, dust storms, blizzards, ice storms, and other severe weather phenomena.

NOAA Weather Radio continuously broadcasts National Weather Service warnings, watches, alerts, forecasts, and other hazard information 24 hours a day. It also broadcasts alerts of non-weather emergencies such as national security, natural, environmental, and public safety.

Following several days of rain, a path is cleared across the wah allowing RVers to leave Catalina State Park near Tucson, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Following several days of rain, a path is cleared across the wash allowing RVers to leave Catalina State Park near Tucson, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The average range is 40 miles, depending on topography. The National Weather Service recommends purchasing a radio that has both a battery backup and a tone-alert feature which automatically alerts you when a watch or warning is issued.

Make a Weather Disaster Plan

Create a weather disaster plan, put an emergency survival kit together, and keep important papers and valuables in a safe place.

Most emergency preparedness plans have several steps in common, such as having a well-stocked first aid kit.

Begin your plan with one or more ways of staying on top of weather forecasts. RVers commonly travel with TV reception, computers, or cell phone Internet access, useful for getting weather reports.

Some communities use sirens as a warning system. Check with your RV campground regarding local siren signals, their storm warning system, and location of nearest tornado shelter.

Build an Emergency Kit

Assemble your emergency survival kit well in advance of an emergency. You may have to evacuate at a moment’s notice and will NOT have time to search for the supplies you need.

Have an emergency package of basic supplies, and keep them readily accessible in an easy-to-carry kit.

Prepare for a weather disaster by gathering emergency supplies including water, non-perishable food, can opener, first aid kit, medications and medical treatment items, flashlights, cell phone with charger, NOAA Weather Radio, emergency cash, pet supplies, important personal documents and medical information, road maps, emergency blankets, flameless LED candles, emergency tools, emergency contact information including family, friends, and doctors, and a full tank of fuel.

Following several days of rain, a path is cleared across the wash allowing RVers to leave Catalina State Park near Tucson, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Following several days of rain, a path is cleared across the wash allowing RVers to leave Catalina State Park near Tucson, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

You personal documents such include copies of insurance policies, identification, and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container.

Additional Safety Tips

ALWAYS know the county in which you are located, so that you can get accurate weather information (National Weather Service severe weather warnings are issued based on counties).

DO NOT drive into a flooded area.

30/30 Rule – if the time between lightning strikes and thunder is less than 30 seconds, you need to take shelter.

NEVER try to outrun a tornado in any vehicle; instead, take shelter immediately. When a tornado approaches, anyone in its path should move to a pre-designated shelter—preferably a designated storm shelter or basement. Recreational vehicles and mobile homes, even if tied down, offer little protection from tornadoes and should be abandoned.

Stay in regular contact with your family or close friends—let them know you are safe.

Worth Pondering…

Safety doesn’t happen by accident.

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