By Chris Dougherty
Certified RV technician
This is part 3 on a series of Disaster Preparedness for RVers.
As an RVer you are probably ahead of the curve in that most RVers have many of the emergency-type, self-sufficient supplies already in their units. Our RVs carry potable water, have DC-powered lighting, and some even have generators, inverters and solar power.
Did you know your RV can serve as a lifeboat? Well, not really a boat, unless you have a Terra-Wind amphibious RV, but it can help you get out of harm’s way. If you happen to be in an area that’s prone to weather emergencies like hurricanes and floods, your RV can be your Ready Vehicle to get you out of harm’s way, and have your home and all the supplies and equipment you’ll need right with you.
Staying informed is also important, not only during a disaster or emergency situation, but also when there isn’t one! You have to have a way to find out that the storm watches and warnings have been posted.
Today’s smartphones are amazing pieces of technology that can alert you to any number of things, including weather warnings and other emergencies. With a cellular data plan, you can see all the news, weather and even live radar that you can stand!
I do, however, recommend having some backups just in case. A NOAA SAME (Specific Area Message Encoding) weather radio is essential for RVers, in my opinion. Thunderstorms that produce flash floods, damaging straight line winds and tornadoes can happen with minimal warning, and the first warnings will come over the NOAA SAME radio channels.
If one of these storms comes through, it’s possible that the cellular system can get bogged down or damaged, making it difficult to place calls. I recommend having some sort of two-way radio equipment available at least for communication with your family that’s with you. Family Radio Service and General Mobile Radio Service radios can be useful not only in an emergency, but can also be great for backing up the RV, keeping in touch with the kids or keeping in contact during bicycling, hiking or wandering around towns or big events without using cellular minutes.
It’s common to recommend people keep emergency kits in their homes and vehicles in the event of an emergency. As previously mentioned, our RVs often already have many of the “staples” recommended to be kept in the event of an emergency just because they’re RVs.
That said, there are some supplies you can keep hidden away in your coach in case of an emergency. These could include:
• Water — One gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation, and/or a way to refill your fresh water tank and sanitize the water
• Food — At least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
• Battery-powered or hand-crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both, or consider installing a weather radio with SAME alerts in the coach, connected to the coach power supply
• Flashlight and extra batteries
• First aid kit
• Whistle to signal for help, in case you’re trapped in your coach
• Dust mask to help filter contaminated air
• Local maps or GPS unit
• Cellphone with chargers, inverter or solar charger
Once you have gathered the supplies for a basic emergency kit, you may want to consider adding the following items:
• Prescription medications and glasses
• Infant formula and diapers
• Pet food and extra water for your pet, and their meds, if necessary
• Cash or traveler’s checks and change
• Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container. You can use the Emergency Financial First Aid Kit (in pdf format) — developed by Operation Hope, FEMA and Citizen Corps — to help you organize your information.
• Emergency reference material such as a first aid book
• Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person. Consider additional bedding if you live in a cold-weather climate.
• Complete change of clothing including a long sleeved shirt, long pants and sturdy shoes. Consider additional clothing if you live in a cold-weather climate
• Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper. When diluted, nine parts water to one part bleach, bleach can be used as a disinfectant. Or in an emergency, you can use it to treat water by using 16 drops of regular household liquid bleach per gallon of water. Do not use scented, color-safe or bleaches with added cleaners. Sanitize your fresh water tank with 1/3 cup bleach to 15 gallons of water.
In addition to the items mentioned above, you should consider having the following in your vehicle:
• Emergency road flares
• Emergency road triangles
• Spare bulbs
• Jumper cables
• A small, foldable, spade shovel
• Tow rope or strap that is lighter than chain but can pull a lot of weight
• Duct tape
Again, RVers carry many of these items in their coaches anyway, but this is a good reference list to have just in case. Don’t forget to keep all the fuels in your coach full, including motor fuel and propane.
Remember, it takes less time for your life to be turned upside down, than the few minutes it takes to be prepared in the event of an emergency.
• Ready-to-go, pre-made disaster kits are available. Click here for more information or to order.
• NOAA SAME Alert weather radios, including one like the Midland WR-120 that can be built into your coach, are available on Amazon here.