HURRICANE 2021 SURVIVAL GUIDE: STAYING SAFE IN YOUR RV

Storm season is here! Are You Ready?

Believe it or not, June is already winding down. And while I’m sure there’s plenty of excitement left in the month (especially with hurricane season officially underway), now’s a great time to reflect on what an amazing month we’re having. As you know, it’s the time of year when spring really starts to look like summer.

It always throws people off when it’s the eve of the Atlantic hurricane season. No, not during hurricane season—not unless a hurricane comes within 1,000 miles, anyway!

Fortunately this was not a major storm approaching Capitol City RV Park in Montgomery, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

I thought it might be nice to start off with some good news. Of course, that statement is a “no brainer” since the 2020 Hurricane Season was the most active in modern times (since 1851). There were 30 named storms, 14 hurricanes, and seven major hurricanes. Boom! Actually, the past decade has been off the charts in terms of activity. There have been on average 17 named storms each year making the past decade the busiest on record. It has also been the busiest 30 years on record as well with two years, 2020 and 2005, both having record seasons. Those two seasons combined for nearly 60 named storms and 14 major hurricanes. For perspective, there have been decades when the total number of storms was under 90. During the 1910s-1920s there were only 60 named storms over a 10-year period. As recently as 1992, there were only 91 storms over a 10-year period.

Rokport-Fulton, Texas following Hurricane Harvey, a Cat 4 hurricane (August 25, 2017) © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Now, the bad news! Despite no La Niña, this will still be an active hurricane season. It just won’t be a super season!

With hurricane season upon us, it’s important to know the ins and outs of RV safety—when to ride out a tropical storm and when it’s time to head out of Dodge to a safer locale. Motorhomes and travel trailers are ideal ‘survival’ vehicles during natural disasters. When faced with a possible hurricane, your recreational vehicle can transport you, your loved ones, and your home to a safer place.

Goose Island State Park, Texas following Hurricane Harvey, a Cat 4 hurricane (August 25, 2017) © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Here’s what you need to know

Hurricane season is no joke. The devastating power of these twisting tropical storms is humbling—and it can change your life, or even end it, in a second. That’s why folks who live near the coastal areas most vulnerable to hurricanes carefully track each storm over the course of the season, even the small ones. It might just end up being a tropical depression that spins off harmlessly into the ocean but you just can’t be too careful when dealing with nature’s fury.

Goose Island State Park, Texas following Hurricane Harvey, a Cat 4 hurricane (August 25, 2017) © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Of course, that goes double, if not triple, for those of us who live or travel in a recreational vehicle. We’ll cut right to the chase: no matter what kind of rig you call home, an RV is not a safe place to ride out a hurricane. In fact, even tropical storms and smaller thunderstorms can cause serious and life-threatening damage to your home-on-wheels.

Nature’s fury has a knack of catching you off-guard; hurricanes are no exceptions. Hurricanes pack enough punch to destroy everything in their wake and in those times it is best to be prepared for an immediate evacuation. Tropical storms and hurricanes are unpredictable to a large extent and must not be treated lightly. Your RV can become your best friend and your ticket to safety if you take certain safety measures for yourself and your vehicle.

Rokport-Fulton, Texas following Hurricane Harvey, a Cat 4 hurricane (August 25, 2017) © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

When you’re traveling by RV, the weather takes on a whole new level of importance. Motorhomes and travel trailers are not safe places to take shelter during extreme weather events which means it’s critical to stay up to date and alert about changing weather patterns and potentially severe weather warnings in your area. It’s not melodramatic to say that your life and the lives of your family could hang in the balance.

The Big Tree at Goose Island State Park, Texas stood firm during Hurricane Harvey, a Cat 4 hurricane (August 25, 2017). Your RV would not be this fortunate. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Fortunately, the same feature that makes RVs an unsafe place to weather a storm makes it relatively easy to avoid bad weather in the first place: they’re on wheels! Evacuation is the key to surviving a hurricane in an RV. It may actually take days to reach a safe destination. In addition, the path of the storm may change requiring you to change directions.

Don’t wait too long and get stuck in heavy traffic with last-minute, mandatory evacuees. As soon as you know a hurricane is likely to come your way, load up your RV and head out before the Interstate becomes a virtual parking lot.

Rokport-Fulton, Texas following Hurricane Harvey, a Cat 4 hurricane (August 25, 2017) © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Prepare an emergency kit by stocking your RV with items such as water, non-perishable foods, and prescription medications. Before the storm, fill your vehicle with fuel and check the windshield wipers and tires. Place your RV and house insurance documents, vehicle registration, title, passport, and other important documents in a waterproof bag and keep them with you.

Keep handy items such as tarps, flashlights and extra batteries, candles and extra lighters or waterproof matches, disposable garbage bags, NOAA Weather Radio, first aid kit, and a toolkit ready at all times.

Goose Island State Park, Texas following Hurricane Harvey, a Cat 4 hurricane (August 25, 2017) © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

According to News4Jax Insider, your first aid kit should include sterile adhesive bandages, sterile gauze pads, hypoallergenic adhesive tape, triangular bandages (3), sterile roller bandages, antibiotic ointment, scissors, tweezers, needle, moistened towelettes, antiseptic, thermometer, tongue blades (2), a tube of petroleum jelly or another lubricant, assorted sizes of safety pins, cleansing agent/soap, latex gloves (2 pairs), sunscreen, bug repellent, Tylenol or other pain relievers, anti-diarrhea medication, antacid, syrup of Ipecac (use to induce vomiting if advised by the Poison Control Center) and laxatives, activated charcoal (if advised by the Poison Control Center), bottled water and additional sterilizing liquids (alcohol and acetone).

Stay safe out there! Remember, run from the water and hide from the wind.

Worth Pondering…

In reality, you don’t ever change the hurricane. You just learn how to stay out of its path.     

—Jodi Picoult

Before You Forget: 14 Absolutely Essential Items to Pack on Your Next Road Trip

There are certain essential products that are must-haves for RVers

Packing the right items is key to the perfect road trip. In addition to necessities like your wallet, phone, clothes, and keys, you’ll be glad you brought these 14 items along for the journey.

Full hookup camping showing power cord, water and sewer hoses, and cable TV © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Basic toolkit

It’s always a good idea to buy and stock a basic toolkit, just in case. The toolbox in your RV should include screw drivers, sockets, claw hammer, pliers, utility knife, tape measure, cordless drill, and adjustable and combination wrenches. Also, consider extension cords and spare fuses.

Water hose connection showing pressure regulator © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Roadside Emergency Kit

An emergency roadside assistance kit won’t break the bank but it just might save the day in the event of a breakdown or accident. Pick one up from any big-box store and bring it along for long road trips. Reflective road triangles are so effective, they are used by the Amish as electricity-free tail lights.

Dump station © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

First Aid Kit

Like a roadside emergency kit, a first aid kit is a must for road trippers. This way you’ll have essential first-aid supplies to help treat most common injuries, including cuts, scrapes, swelling, sprains, and strains. Your first aid kit should include antibiotic ointment, hydrocortisone cream, antiseptic cleansing wipes, gauze dressing pads in varied sizes, tape roll, tweezers, adhesive bandages in varied sizes, scissors, disposable vinyl gloves, and Red Cross Emergency First Aid Guide.

Use extra care with snow and ice © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Bug Spray

All kinds of annoying bugs come out in the summer so make sure you’re prepared to keep them at bay and avoid itchy bites by grabbing some bug spray with DEET. 

GPS Device

Having a portable one of these helps for adventures taken outside your car, too. There have to be at least 24 satellites in a “GPS constellation” of synchronized orbits in order for your GPS device to work. That’s a lot of rocket science and delicate mathematics, so take advantage of it.

Drive with care © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Paper Atlas

An atlas you can hold in your hand is the ultimate back-up plan. If the technology seems old, that’s because it is—road maps go back as far as 5th century Rome.

USB Charger

Don’t let your gadgets die on you. Modern USB connections aren’t just faster than their predecessors—they consume less power, too.

Ambassador RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Vacuum

You’re enjoying the great outdoors—which means you’re bringing the great outdoors back into your RV with you. Staying at campsites means mud, grass, and insects—all of which can dirty up your home-on-wheels quickly. A small, cordless powerful vacuum is a must-have.

Fort Camping at Brae Island, Fort Langley, British Columbia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Folding steps

Folding steps are one of those useful tools you might not think about, but they’re handy to have around. As extra seating, an added step to get into your RV, and standing on to reach things when making repairs or finding the back of a high cupboard, it’s a useful tool.

Heavy duty sewer hose and secure connection © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

High-quality sewer hose

Some things you definitely don’t want to skimp on, and your sewer hose is one of them. No one wants to be dealing with a ruptured sewer hose while on vacation. Invest in a high-end hose—your peace of mind and nasal passages will thank you.

Smokiam RV Resort, Soap Lake, Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Folding tables

You can find a basic folding table in most stores—but you won’t find them in most campsites. They’re a great addition to your packing plans for meals, games, and hobbies. The benefit of a folding table is they take up a small amount of space and are generally water-resistant.

Cooler on sliding tray © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Cooler

The cooler, or portable ice chest, was invented in 1951, but things have gotten a little fancier in the 67 years since. Some modern coolers can plug into your RV’s electrical outlet and use a powered fan to draw away heat and keep things even cooler.

Cash for tolls

Keep some quarters and spare paper cash so you never have to go digging.

Mitchell Corn Palace © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Camera

This one is obvious, but don’t leave home without it. How else are you going to document your visit to the world’s only corn palace, located in Mitchell, South Dakota?

Worth Pondering…

As Yogi Berra said, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”

RV Emergency Kit Essentials

Here are nine RV emergency kit essentials

While the optimists among us tend to imagine life through the lens of the best case scenario, the realists of this world know that things don’t always go according to plan. That’s why it’s important to think about disaster preparation and to have an emergency essentials kit packed and ready to go for whenever the need arises.

For peace of mind consider the following for your RV emergency kit.

Camping at Leaf Verde RV Park, Buckeye, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Important Documents

Keep paper copies in your RV emergency kit of all important documents including: Identification (driver’s license, birth certificate, Passport), health care information, insurance documents, proof of ownership, banking information, and list of emergency and other important phone numbers.

Camping at Eagles Landing RV Park, Auburn, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

First Aid Kit

Your first aid kit should include: Bandages (different sizes), sterile gauze (different sizes), rolled bandages, triangular bandage, cleansing wipes, tape, safety pins, tweezers, scissors, skin rash cream, anti-itch cream, antiseptic cream, sunburn cream, painkillers, antihistamine, ice packs, emergency blanket, disposable sterile gloves, and first aid manual. You should also have any prescription medications on hand. 

Camping at River Run RV Park, Bakersfield, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Flashlights

A flashlight is essential to help you get around in the dark. It can also be used as a signal. As a camper, it’s likely you have a few flashlights already in your RV. Make sure you keep at least one per person and have spare batteries. 

Camping at Creek Fire RV Park, Savannah, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Non-Perishable Food

You already have food in your RV—the fridge and freezer found in most RVs make it easier to bring food. However, you also need non-perishable food. This includes: Canned food, fruit, granola bars, cereal, dry beans and peas, sauces and condiments, trail mix, chips, spices, flour, sugar, oils. Most of these food items are useful to have in your RV, emergency kit aside. Make sure you check expiry dates and store this food in a sealable, animal/rodent-proof container. Of course, you’ll need a can opener at the minimum.

Camping at Terre Haute KOA, Indiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Water

As most RVers don’t keep their water tanks filled (especially when traveling), you should always keep an emergency supply of water. The general recommendation is 4 gallons per person, per day. 

Camping at Lakeside RV Park, Livingston, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Clothing

Be prepared for a variety of weather. Layers are always important, as many places can get quite cold or wet. Include the following for each member of your family: Socks, underwear, warm sweater, warm jacket, waterproof jacket, wide-brimmed hat, sturdy footwear.

Camping at Buccaneer State Park, Mississippi © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Cell Phone Charger

Cell phones are incredibly useful in emergency situations—you can communicate with loved ones, seek emergency help, figure out where you are, and get important information and updates. Always keep a phone charger in your RV emergency kit.

Camping at Hacienda RV Resort, Las Cruces, New Mexico © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Personal Toiletries

Personal toiletries can provide comfort and be functional during an emergency. Here are some of the items you should keep in your RV emergency kit: Toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, hairbrush or comb, shampoo and conditioner, hand sanitizer, toilet paper.

Camping at 7 Feathers Casino RV Park, Canyonville, Oregon © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Roadside Maintenance Kit

Here are a few basic tools to keep in your RV emergency kit: High visibility cones, reflectors and/or vest, wheel chocks, tire pressure gauge, assorted wrenches and screwdrivers, pliers, hammer, duct/gorilla tape, work gloves. You should also keep jumper cables and extra fluids (windshield washer, oil, and coolant). If you’re driving in winter you should also keep an ice scraper, shovel, and traction aid (cat litter or sand).

Camping at New Green Acres RV Park, Walterboro, South Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Other Items for your RV Emergency Kit

There are a few other items that can be included in your RV emergency kit, too: Whistle, garbage bags, waterproof matches, paper and pen, extra blankets, tarps and ties, maps.

Camping at Dakota Campground, Mitchell, South Dakota © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Pet RV Emergency Kit

If you have pets, you shouldn’t forget to include them in your RV emergency kit: Pet food, medications, toys, blanket, collapsible food/water bowls, cat litter and pan (if you have a cat), leash, collar/harness, and copy of your pet’s vaccination and medical records.

Camping at Goose Island State Park, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Assembling Your RV Emergency Kit

You likely have many of these items in your RV already. Even if you do, it’s important to ensure you have all necessary items and have them organized. Start with making a list. Identify the items you have and what you’ll need to buy. Assemble and pack them in your RV. Regularly check on first aid, toiletries, and pet items to ensure they haven’t expired.

While you hopefully won’t need to use of the items you have assembled, it’s important in the event of an emergency situation.

Worth Pondering…

Remember, Safety First, and Happy RVing!

What’s in Your RV Emergency Kit?

Preparing for an emergency is something all RVers need to think about

We all know about car emergency kits. But an RV is much different than a car. A car, for instance doesn’t travel with a tank of fresh water. And a car is also less likely to be stranded at an alpine lake due to a freak snow storm. Most people also wouldn’t drive their car 30 miles into BLM-managed public lands with the intention of living out of it for a week or more.

Columbia Riverfront RV Park, Woodland, Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

When considering your RV emergency kit, keep in mind the kinds of emergency situations you might face during your RV travels. We’ll discuss safety items and accessories to pack in your recreational vehicle’s first aid kit and tool box.

Utah Scenic Byway 279 near Moab © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RV First Aid Kit

A first aid kit readily available in an emergency isn’t just a good idea—it’s a necessity for every RVer. A well-stocked first-aid kit and manual can help you respond effectively to common injuries and emergencies. You can purchase first aid kits and refills at the Red Cross store, most drugstores, or assemble your own.

Alamo Lake State Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Contents of a first-aid kit should include adhesive tape, antibiotic ointment, antiseptic solution or towelettes, bandages, calamine lotion, cotton balls and cotton-tipped swabs, gauze pads and roller gauze in assorted sizes, first aid manual, petroleum jelly or other lubricant, safety pins in assorted sizes, scissors and tweezers, and sterile eyewash.

Julian, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Familiarize yourself with the items in the first aid kit and know how to properly use them. Check your first-aid kits regularly, at least every three months, to replace supplies that have expired.

The Mayo Clinic is an excellent source for first aid information to help you during a medical emergency.

If you travel with pets, pet first aid manuals are also available.

Traveling with pets © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RV Tool Box

Just about anything in your RV that can snap, crack, rip loose, tear, bend, leak, spark, or fall off will do exactly that at the most inconvenient time. Something will need to be tightened, loosened, pounded flat, pried, or cut.

To help you deal with everyday problems and annoyances, maintain a well-equipped tool box in the RV (always store on curb side).

Camping on Padre Island National Seashore, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Contents should include Phillips and Robertson head and flat bladed screwdrivers (large, medium, small), standard and needle-nose pliers, channel-lock pliers (medium and large), 10-inch Crescent wrench, claw hammer, hobby knife with blade protector, wire cutters, tape measure, silicone sealant, Gorilla tape and glue, electrical tape, battery jumper cables, open and box-end wrenches, silicone spray, WD-40 lubricant, bungee cords, road flares/warning reflectors, fold-down shovel, stepladder, spare fuses, and heavy-duty tire pressure gauge.

Badlands National Park, South Dakota © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Many RVers also carry a socket wrench set (standard and metric), small drill bit set and cordless drill with spare battery, and digital voltmeter.

Gorilla Tape is a brand of adhesive tape sold by the makers of Gorilla Glue, and available in several sizes and colors, including camouflage, white, and clear. Gorilla Tape can solve many problems while on the road—and you can do most anything with this stuff. RVers have used it to temporarily repair a sewer hose, keep a driver’s side window from continually falling, and even affix the coffee maker to the counter so that it doesn’t move during travel.

Other Considerations

Buckhorn Lake RV Resort, Kerrville, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Other considerations, supplies, and equipment include fire extinguishers (one in the galley, one in the bedroom, and one outside of the RV in a basement compartment, plus one in the toad/tow vehicle), NOAA weather radio, LED flashlights, heavy-duty whistles, emergency waterproof matches, jumper cables, ice/snow window scrapers, work gloves, and blue tarp.

McKinney Falls State Park near Austin, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Worth Pondering…

Remember, safety is no accident.