Campground Weather Safety Tips
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Planning for Inclement Weather
Every camper needs to prepare for inclement weather. Weather can change dramatically very quickly, so preparedness is your best defense. A few things to remember:
Have flashlights ready in case of power outage and you don’t have RV house batteries.
Have a weather radio set to alert you when there is a weather event
Have activity appropriate apparel & shoes for your outings in case of unexpected weather. Dress in layers to avoid discomfort in changes of temperatures.
Keep a positive attitude! You can't control the weather but you can wait out bad weather by planning to have games and activities to do when bad weather strikes. If your plans have to change because of weather, be sure to have some alternate activities planned. A stash of games and cards can turn a disappointment into another kind of fun!
The Three A’s of Campground Weather Safety
Awareness for Campground Weather Safety
Check the forecast before you travel or set up camp. Once you are in camping mode or vacation mind, you are planning for fun! But weather can change that quickly so know what the weather is going to be like over the next couple days so you can make good decisions about your activities and destinations. Use a reliable weather information website like NOAA or the National Weather Service.
If you are in an area that has cell service, then a weather app with emergency weather notification is a great thing to have set up. They have a free and paid version. The app will send you a notification when there are watches and warnings you for the area you are in. Be sure to have your app set up to notify you even if your other notifications are off and also have your location setting turned on.
We were camping in Texas when we got a middle of the night warning for flash floods. We knew we were camping on higher ground so we weren’t worried but that is where the awareness comes in….we knew where we were.
Alertness for Campground Weather Safety
Have your weather radios set up to alert you when there is a threat. There are different kinds of weather radio options. Having one that doubles as a walkie-talkie can be a good choice to make the most of small space storage.
Have a weather contingency plan. What will you do if the weather suddenly changes and you are in danger? Everyone on your trip should have a job to do and know how to do it in case of an emergency evacuation. See tips below about what to do in each type of weather event.
In case of an emergency, how will you make contact with help? What is cell service is lost? Using emergency radios can make the difference in campground weather safety.
Action for Campground Weather Safety
Have a plan on what to do if there is threatening weather that may put you in danger.
Know where you are – use a GPS to help identify your location in case you need it.
Know your evacuation plan: If you need to evacuate where are you going? Are you going to stick it out?
Use your weather radios to keep abreast of changes in weather in your area.
If you get a weather notification for an approaching storm of any kind, start to clean up your campsite and put things away that could potentially become airborne in a wind gust situation. Your RV windows and your camping neighbors will love you for it.
Severe Weather Events
The following weather events are the most common while camping. Knowing what to do can make you more educated in case of an emergency. If you are camping in high-risk areas for hurricanes, earthquakes, tornados, and flooding, be sure to have your alerts/radios activated during your stay.
There are no reliable warning signs that lightning is going to strike. If you are outdoors when a lightning storm occurs, your first thought should be to get to shelter to a building or inside your camper as quickly as possible.
If that is not feasible, the next thing to consider is crouching down close to the ground until the lightning passes. Make sure you are not the tallest thing around or close to a lone tree or tall object during a lightning storm. Use the 30/30 rule in all lightning situations.
If a tornado warning is issued get below ground as quickly as possible. Get to the nearest storm shelter or basement. If that is not available, try to find a small interior room on the lowest floor the closest sturdy building. Be sure to leave vehicles as they can go airborne in a strong tornado. If you are caught in the open during a tornado, lie flat on the ground or try to find a ditch or culvert and roll into a ball to protect your head and torso. Avoid highway overpasses as a place of shelter, they become wind tunnels during a tornado.
A flash flood is a flood with a rapid onset, generally less than six hours. You may not know a rainstorm 6 miles away happens until the water rushes and fills reservoirs where you are. Be aware if you are camping in a low ground area that is subject to flooding before you camp there.
If you are in a flood zone and get a warning, get to high ground as soon as possible.
Be especially cautious at night when you are driving. Don’t cross flooded roads. It only takes 18 – 24 inches of water to float an average vehicle. If you are surrounded by water that is not moving, abandon the vehicle and move to higher ground.
Know your weather terminology:
Watch: A Watch is when conditions are favorable to become a problem. Be on Alert! Have your weather radios available to receive warnings.
Warning: A Warning is when a weather event is occurring or is expected shortly. If one is issued, it is time to take action.
Severe Thunderstorm: This is a storm that produces one or more of the following: a wind greater than 58 mph, hail resulting in 1 inch or larger, or a tornado.
If one of these is forecasted you will want to seek a way to break camp and move out of the path of the storm or seek indoor shelter.
In the Spring, I have counted 136 different kinds of weather inside of 24 hours – Mark Twain
Preparedness is key for campground weather safety. Alertness and awareness are an important state of mind while camping. You will have more fun camping knowing you are prepared in case of weather event. Be aware, alert and ready to act if you need to!
Safety is important – be sure to be prepared in case of fire when camping in your RV. Read RV Fire Safety: What You Must Know to get great tips on being prepared for a fire emergency.