Spring has arrived! Beautiful sunshine, perfect temperatures and longer days. Flowers and trees are beginning to blossom and bloom, and the wildlife is emerging from their slumber. If you haven’t already, I bet you’re thinking about getting the RV out of storage and hitting the road. A wonderful time of year for RVing!
A few things to do in preparation of your trip:
- Schedule a visit with your insurance agent weeks in advance of your trip to review your policy. Your policy should sufficiently cover all of your needs, so make sure you have adequate coverage.
- Check your first aid kit to be sure all items are stocked and have not reached their expiration date. Band-Aids, bandage tape, a roll bandage, pressure bandages, butterfly strips, antiseptic ointment, antibiotic ointment, anti-itch/allergy ointment, burn ointment, foot powder/spray, irrigation syringe, medicated soap, Q-tips, cleansing wipes, scissors, tweezers, thermometer, alcohol, iodine, Hydrogen Peroxide, ibuprofen, aspirin, Tylenol, anti-nausea medication, anti-diarrheal medication, laxative, cough suppressant, daytime/nighttime cold, flu and allergy medication, cold pack, hot pack, sewing needle, dental floss, and don’t forget the latex gloves.
- Pack an emergency backpack in case you have to make a run for safety. Include items such as emergency contact information, identification cards, insurance information, cash and/or credit cards. These items need to be in a waterproof envelope. Also include in your backpack items such as bottled water, snacks and protein bars, extra batteries, phone chargers, medications, flashlights, a blanket, and a change of clothes. Be sure you have a portable cell phone charger such as a power bank or power pack, in case you find yourself without electric.
- Make a communications plan so you can contact loved ones during an emergency.
- Make sure you have at least 3 ways to receive alerts – a smart phone, internet, weather radio, local new stations, and local warning systems are a few ways.
- If you do not already have a weather radio, now is the perfect time to get one! It is an inexpensive, indispensable and essential tool. It broadcasts weather forecasts, fire dangers, travel conditions, storm warnings and emergency alerts around the clock.
Now that you’re organized and prepared, let’s talk about the weather. Spring is prime time for severe weather. It’s storm season, after all! The possibility of torrential rainfall, flooding, thunderstorms, lightning, hail and tornadoes, followed by days of glorious sunshine and warm temperatures.
Severe weather can have severe impacts on your travel plans when you’re on wheels! Preparation and planning is your best weapon. Knowing the forecast along your itinerary can save lost time, headaches, and even lives, therefore it’s important to know what weather conditions are expected along your route. Have a plan in case of a weather emergency. And have a backup plan, just in case. The National Weather Service, or NWS, is a great place to start. Check the forecast at www.weather.gov for the areas you will be traveling through. Understand that Mother Nature cannot be accurately forecast beyond 7 – 10 days, so you will want to check it regularly. Download free and/or inexpensive radar and alert apps on your computer and phones. A few we recommend are NOAA, NOAA Weather Alerts, Wunderground (Weather Underground), The Weather Channel and WeatherBug. Most weather apps can provide real-time updates and alerts.
You may find yourself under a weather watch or warning. It’s vital to understand the difference between the two and critical to being prepared for any dangerous weather hazard. Watches and Warnings can be issued for extreme wind, flooding, severe thunderstorms, tornados, tropical storms, hurricanes, and heat. A Watch lets you know that conditions are favorable for a weather hazard (approaching storms are capable of producing flooding, high wind, large hail, or tornados). It means to be on guard, to watch for bad weather and be prepared to take action. A Warning, on the other hand, requires immediate action. It means a weather hazard is imminent and is either occurring (a tornado has been spotted, for example), or is expected to occur at any moment. Take action and take cover immediately. Grab your emergency backpack and head to safety right away. Warnings are urgent. Do not ignore them!
If the forecast calls for bad weather, prepare ahead of time. Find an RV and/or camping spot that is in an elevated location and away from large trees. Secure outdoor items such as grills, patio/lawn furniture, umbrellas, toys, etc. before the storm begins. Don’t wait until things start blowing around to try and secure them. Close all windows. Put a headlamp at the front door of your RV in case you have to make a run for safety. As the storm approaches, unplug all electronics: computers, televisions, appliances, etc. Do not wash dishes, shower, wash your hands, do laundry, etc. Don’t do anything that involves water. Do not touch plumbing or metal, and avoid contact with electrical equipment and/or cords.
RV’s are not the safest place to be during a storm. If possible, go to the campground shelter, or other sturdy building, to take cover. Know the nearest shelter or evacuation route, though NEVER attempt to outrun a storm. There is absolutely no reason to put lives at risk (including your own) in a panic. An RV is replaceable, your life is not! If you can’t make it to a safe shelter, then STAY INSIDE! Stay low in a hallway area, away from windows and cabinets (you don’t want a can of beans projectile aiming at your head if the cabinet door flies open!). Keep your hands on your lap or lay on the floor in a fetal position. Stay inside for 30 minutes after you hear the last thunder clap.
Have your RV park address and site number easily accessible. It will be important if you should need to call 911. Know what county you are in, as weather alerts are often issued by county. Also know the names of nearby towns.
If you are on the road, do NOT park underneath an overpass or bridge! Low spots such as underpasses and underground parking garages can become death traps. While not ideal, a hard-topped vehicle is a safe location during a thunderstorm, however you should always try to find a sturdy and safe shelter. If you don’t have time to find a safer shelter, then stay in place! Safely exit the roadway and park your vehicle if possible. Never drive into flooded roadways or around a barricade. Always obey warning and road signs. Remember the saying – turn around, don’t drown!
A few storm-related weather facts:
- Straight line winds can be as damaging as a tornado.
- 80 mile per hour winds can be equivalent of an EF-0 tornado.
- Winds from tornados can exceed 200 mph. The fastest wind speed ever recorded is 301 mph in a tornado that hit Oklahoma City on May 3, 1999.
- Flying debris is the most dangerous.
- Lighting kills! But, 9 out of 10 lightning strike victims survive.
- Lightning strike victims carry no electrical charge and should be attended to immediately.
- Lightning can strike as far as 10 miles away from any rainfall.
- An average lightning bolt carry a current of 10,000 to 30,000 amps. In comparison, an average radiator draws ten amps.
- A severe thunderstorm can produce approximately 6,000 lightning strikes every minute.
- The largest hail stone recovered in the US fell in Vivian, SD on June 23, 2010 with a diameter of 8’ and a circumference of 18.62”. It weighed 1 lb, 15 oz. That’s nearly the size of a volleyball!
- Large hailstones can fall at speeds faster than 100 mph.
- More than half of all flood fatalities are vehicle-related. In fact, US floods kill more people each year than tornadoes, hurricanes or lightning.
- The smell of rain is called Petrichor. It is caused when the oils secreted by some plants are released into the air during rain, or can also be caused by the chemicals produced when soil dwelling bacteria is released.
Hit the open road, it’s the American dream! Check the forecasts, have a plan, have a backup plan, and be prepared for rapidly changing weather conditions. Wherever the road may take you, the most important thing is to just have fun! Enjoy your time away and come back safely. Drop us a line and let us know what your travel plans are or fill us in on the amazing trip you just had. We’d love to hear from you!