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Mark Polk, motorhome and motor coach maintenance expert

By Mark Polk
RV Education 101

Motorhomes are terrific, but they are not safe in severe weather such as thunderstorms, high winds, tornadoes or hurricanes. And when you travel several hundred miles a day, the weather can change quickly and frequently.

At home, newspapers, radio, television and the Internet keep you up-to-date on the weather forecasts. In the motorhome, you don’t always know what the weather will be at your destination or where you might be spending the night. Severe weather can occur without much warning, and if you’re caught in it, it can be disastrous.

RVers should have an emergency weather plan in the event of a severe storm. Let’s take a look at my 7-step RV emergency weather plan.

1. Access weather information and alerts
With today’s mobile devices, it’s easy to get apps for current weather information or severe weather alerts. This works especially well when you are traveling in your motorhome.

For those who don’t have a smartphone, or for times when you don’t have a strong signal, I suggest purchasing a weather radio receiver. Receivers are available at most retail stores that sell electronic equipment. Prices range  from $25 to $200 depending on the quality of the receiver and its features. It is well worth the investment to know what type of weather to expect when traveling or camping in your RV. At home, you can use the weather radio receiver in your house. For more information on the NOAA Weather Radio, visit

2. Monitor weather information and alerts
When you arrive at the campground, tune the receiver to a local channel that broadcasts continuous weather information directly from a nearby National Weather Service office. Emergency weather watches and warnings are for counties and towns, so always check and know what county or town you are staying in.

If you are using a phone or other device to receive weather alerts, make sure you have a strong signal where you are staying. It’s possible to receive phone calls and text messages but not be able to send or receive data. If you cannot receive data you cannot receive weather alerts.

3. Develop an emergency evacuation plan
When you arrive at a campground, ask at the check-in desk about an emergency plan in case of a severe storm such as a tornado, or a thunderstorm with high winds. If the campground doesn’t have a plan, make your own. Locate a structure that is safer than your RV, such as a bathhouse or the campground office. Always stay on the lowest level possible and away from doors and windows.

4. Brief everybody on the emergency plan
Explain to children how to respond to different disasters and the dangers of severe weather, fires, and other emergencies. Instruct children on emergency exits and on how and when to call 911.

5. Know what your job is during an emergency
Make sure everybody traveling in the RV knows exactly what his or her job is in case of severe weather or other emergencies. Adults need to know how to use a fire extinguisher, but children should never attempt to put a fire out. Make sure everybody knows what to do and where to go in the event of an emergency.

6. Have an emergency supply kit
Your emergency kit should be prepared and easily accessible. Some items to consider adding to the kit: flashlights, batteries, blankets, bottled water, rain ponchos, first-aid kit, pet supplies, portable weather radio, manual can opener, non- perishable packaged or canned food, prescription and non-prescription drugs, and any special items for infants, elderly or disabled family members.

7. Get educated on emergency preparedness
Educate yourself on how to prepare and react to different types of severe weather you might encounter when you are camping in your RV. To learn more about emergency weather preparedness, visit

Remember, RVs are not safe in severe weather. Learn about the different types of weather hazards, get a weather radio if you don’t have one, create a plan with your family, and practice and maintain the plan.

Now go RVing and have fun.

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