Preparing Your RV for Potential Emergencies
Preparing Your RV for Potential Emergencies
How to be ready while on the road or use your RV for disaster recovery at home.
By: Scott & Jaime Sichler
With a record number of RVers preparing to hit the road this summer, and many for the first time, it's probably smart to take a moment to talk about safety.
Review & Check Your RV Safety Measures
The first step/tip is to take a look at your RV’s operator manuals. You don't have to read these cover to cover and memorize every detail, but it's important to review the safety section and understand how the various systems work – including the fire extinguisher and smoke, carbon monoxide, and propane (if equipped) detectors.
Winnebago does a good job with having an easy-to-read overview operator manual with references to more detailed manuals for individual systems and parts. Make sure you familiarize yourself before hitting the road.
Roadside Emergency Preparedness
The roadside emergency section of your operator manual covers what to do in case of a flat tire or blow out. Changing a tire on a heavy RV is not the same as a passenger car and may require towing to a repair shop. A specialty professional towing service with the appropriate equipment might be required. In reviewing our chassis manual for our Class A, I discovered that disconnecting the drive shaft was recommended before towing. This doesn't sound like a job for the inexperienced.
We check our tires with an accurate digital tire gauge before each trip and carry warning devices including flares and triangles in case of emergencies. (See more tips on tire care here). Winnebago has also partnered with Coach-Net to provide assistance from RV experts, including roadside assistance programs. Check out their options at WGORVprotect.com.
Be Aware of Hazardous Weather
When driving your RV, it's especially important to be aware of high winds and other hazardous weather that can make for dangerous conditions. Last month in Mexico, we were caught in unexpected, near-gale wind conditions with gusts up to 50 mph because we couldn't get an accurate forecast for the area we were driving to. Not fun.
In the U.S., our dash radio has NOAA weather channels we can listen to for more up-to-date information. Portable radios with NOAA weather and emergency alerts are also inexpensive and a good idea, especially if you're traveling in areas prone to tornadoes.
We also use the Emergency by the American Red Cross app to monitor hazardous conditions and have set up alerts for the locations we'll be traveling to in an effort to avoid bad weather. When outside of cell service, our Garmin InReach allows us to get updated weather forecasts anywhere in the world and serves as an emergency communication tool with 24/7 monitoring and assistance.
Stay Informed of Other Potential Dangers
We like to take our RV to more remote areas off-road but have learned that conditions can quickly transform a passable dry dirt road into a muddy no-go mess. In the West, it's especially a good idea to monitor wildfires and be aware of weather, including thunderstorms and winds that can lead to wildfires.
We have been in a scary situation outside of Grand Canyon National Park where we saw smoke and emergency vehicles going by our boondocking spot with flashing lights. It turned out to be a prescribed burn started by the Forest Service to prevents fires. But, still a good reminder to always be aware. The local Forest Service ranger station can be a good source of information on places to camp and can also advise on fires.
Using Your RV for Disaster Recovery
And for those not on the road, keep in mind that that your RV can also be used in disaster recovery situations should something happen at home. You can review the recommendations of what to stock in your RV for emergencies from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at their website here. They recommend enough supplies for at least 72 hours.
If you do have to evacuate your home, a prepared RV can provide shelter and necessities. Here is an example of one Winnebago family who used their motorhome for disaster recovery after a hurricane. In the past, some RVers have even offered their rig as a temporary living option for those who have been displaced due to a disaster.
While we don’t want this information to scare you, it is good to be prepared (especially when out on the road!) and know what you would do in case of an emergency.
What other resources do you use to stay safe in your RV?