Living in a beautiful house in the suburbs, you can easily take for granted the changing weather outside. When traveling in an RV, you have no such luck at your disposal. This is a lesson, my family and I learned the hard way, during our very first Workamping job.
I remember the day like it was yesterday…. I took the kids to play at Green River Lake State Park, with another Workamping family, where we watched the clouds move in slowly. Thinking it was just another windy Kentucky day, I thought nothing further on the topic.
After dinner, showers and tucking everyone in for the night- We were ripped from our sweet slumber by the sounds of our neighbor banging on the camper door. Totally unaware, that it was just an hour later, I frantically jumped up out of bed and threw the front door open. Before my lips could even form the words to ask, what was wrong. She yelled,
“Sharee get your kids and get to the shelter! There’s a tornado in town and its headed straight for us!”
Really? I couldn’t believe it. We’d live in Georgia since both my husband and I were in grade school, and we’d never actually had to take shelter from a storm. The weatherman would say there was a possible storm moving through, we would wait patiently with our supplies packed, for the excitement to start, and then nothing would ever happen. Fast forward to this moment, we’re living in an RV and literally on our first trip, within just 2 months of “hittin the road” and we’re in a tornado, without a plan. Go figure.
Without time to even put my thoughts together, let alone put on appropriate clothing, we hustled the kids into the car and drove over to the shelter. As we sat in the cold damp basement of the camp store, surrounded by fellow campers, all waiting for the storm to pass, I took a moment to look at my family.
One of my children was wearing just one shoe. Another was without a jacket. One was in shorts and a tank top. And the last one had no shoes and a large winter coat.
We looked absolutely ridiculous!
Thankful for the kindness of my neighbor, who took time to make sure my family was safe, I sat thinking to myself how I could do better in the future. How should I prepare my family for severe weather? When we lived in a house, it was easy. We packed supplies, snacks, and water in the safe room and everyone knew to meet there in case of a tornado. But living in the RV changed everything. Up until this moment, we had been blind to the dangers of severe weather while traveling. It was something we completely overlooked. We were unprepared and that wasn’t okay. We were in desperate need of a wakeup call, and guess what? This was it!
I began researching how to prepare for severe weather while traveling fulltime, the very next day. I searched and searched everything I could find on the topic. I browsed horrific pictures of overturned campers and smashed trailers until my eyes burned. It was then, that I made a pact with my husband to never try to ride out the storm or even worse… outrun it. Because I knew we would not be driving in the storm, I focused my attention on how we could prepare if a storm was traveling into our area.
Here’s what we decided to do:
- Make a supply kit-
Grab a backpack and build an emergency supply kit. We decided to go with two. In the first one, we put all of our supplies. Things like flashlights, headlamps, a utility knife, rope, ponchos, a safety vest, extra batteries, and our emergency first aid kit. In the second one, we put all of our snacks. Granola bars, nuts and seeds, tuna packets, applesauce and 2 bottles of water for each person.
- Locate a safe place-
When you arrive at your campsite, take a moment to search out a safe place. This should be somewhere without windows and preferably concrete walls and a solid foundation. Basement laundry rooms, storm shelters, and even bathhouses are good choices. Make sure everyone knows where to meet.
- Be weather alert-
In my opinion, every RVer needs a weather radio. This little guy will keep you up to date on what is happening in your area and will sound an alarm if a statement from the National Weather Service has been issued. I basically sleep with this by my pillow. We also watch the live radar online or on our phones, for a visual picture of how the weather is progressing.
- Dress for success-
After the embarrassing display on unpreparedness we showed in Kentucky, we make sure to wear weather appropriate clothes to sleep, especially during stormy weather. Tiny shorts and tank tops just aren’t that comfortable in a room full of strangers at 1 am. We also keep everyone’s shoes and jackets right by the door, so we can easily toss them on, on their way out.
- Practice drills-
Practice makes perfect. Enough cannot be said about the worth of practicing your routine for severe weather. Don’t wait until the moment when you have to know it. Run you drills at least one time, after arrival or monthly in each location, to make sure you know what to do.
While Workamping in Texas, we were given weekly and sometimes daily opportunities to practice our plan. Each time we felt better and better about how we performed. We now feel more prepared although we’re not totally at ease, when the situations arise, knowing we have a plan in place helps makes the whole experience much more tolerable. Weather can change quickly and without much notice, so be diligent and be prepared. Make a severe weather travel plan, before you need one.
Safe Travels & Many Adventures-