What’s your RV Emergency Weather Plan?

July 27, 2009 by Mark Polk · 15 Comments  
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weather-radioI love the freedom of the open road. There is nothing like exploring the back roads in your RV. You can go where you want and when you want in your house on wheels, and because of this often times you find yourself at a new destination everyday. Something many RVers do not take into consideration with this freedom to roam is the weather conditions where you are traveling, or spending the night. RV’s are great, but they are not safe in severe weather, like lightning and thunderstorms with high winds, tornadoes and hurricanes.

When you’re at home you usually know what the weather forecast is by reading the newspaper, listening to the radio or watching television. When you travel hundreds of miles a day in your RV weather conditions can change several times. Many times when you stop for the night all you want to do is get some rest. The weather is the last thing on your mind. The problem with this is severe weather can occur without much warning, and if you are caught in it, it can be disastrous. 

So, what do we do, what’s the plan? Plan is the key word here. RVers need to have an emergency weather plan in case of a severe storm. For starters, have you ever heard of the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio or NWR? The NOAA Weather Radio is a nationwide network of radio stations that broadcast continuous weather information directly from a nearby National Weather Service Office.

They broadcast National Weather Service warnings, watches, forecasts and other hazard information 24 hours a day. Alerts inform people if they need to take some type of action in order to protect them, such as “seeking shelter” or “to evacuate an area immediately!” What does this mean to RVers? It means if you owned a battery operated weather radio receiver you could monitor weather conditions no matter where you are!

Every RVer should own a weather radio receiver. Prices for receivers can range anywhere from $25 to $200 depending on the quality of the receiver and the features it has to offer. We actually have two weather radio receivers. We leave one in the RV at all times. When we arrive at our destination we set it in the ‘Weather’ position and tune in to the NOAA station with the strongest signal in that area. Then, by leaving the receiver in the alert/lock mode 24/7, when an all-hazard emergency or weather alert is broadcast by NOAA, the radio sounds an audible alert to notify us that a message is pending.

We also have a handheld model that we can use when we are away from the campground. It’s perfect for hiking, riding four-wheelers, boating and many other uses. Both models work off of 12 volt DC, 120 volt AC and dry cell batteries. There is also a back-up power system, furnished by built in rechargeable batteries. The rechargeable, battery is a secondary power source for emergency use when the battery, 12 volt DC power or 120 volts AC are not available. When we get back home we use one of the weather radio receivers in our house.

For more information on the NOAA Weather Radio visit their website at

I am including a short checklist from my Checklist for RVers e-book  that you can use to help prepare for emergency weather planning when you are traveling in your RV. You can add to, or take away from this list to tailor it to your specific needs.

 The first step to our emergency weather plan is to get a weather radio receiver if you don’t already have one, and to always monitor it when you use your RV.

 The next step is to develop an emergency evacuation plan, to use in the event of severe weather. 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, a thunderstorm with high winds, or flash flooding. If they don’t have a plan you need to make your own.

  Locate a structure that is safer than your RV, like a bathhouse or the campground office. Always stay on the lowest level possible and away from doors and windows.

 Brief everybody with you 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 instruct them on how and when to call 911.

  Make sure everybody knows exactly what his or her job is in case of severe weather.

  Monitor the weather radio for emergency information. Emergency weather watches and warnings are for counties and towns, so always check a map for the county or town where you are staying.

 Have an emergency supply kit made up and easily accessible. The kit should contain: flashlights, batteries, rain ponchos, bug spray, a portable weather radio, first aid kit, non- perishable packaged or canned food, a manual can opener, blankets, prescription and non-prescription drugs, pet supplies, bottled water and any special items for infants, elderly or disabled family members.


To learn more about how to prepare for and react to different types of severe weather take a moment to visit

Remember, RV’s are not safe in severe weather! This includes severe thunderstorms with high winds, tornadoes and hurricanes. Always be prepared for bad weather RVing. 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 some fun.

Happy Camping,

Mark Polk

RV Education 101

RV University

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15 Responses to “What’s your RV Emergency Weather Plan?”

  1. GMAs on July 27th, 2009 2:47 pm

    I know this sounds a little strange but…. If I were you I would mount a outside (all weather) speaker which is attached to the WX radio… that way you and allow everyone to hear the emergency broadcast… and even if you have to abandon the RV it will still be on and heard right up to the end…

    However, just as we found in the movie “TWISTER” if the TV goes blank…(Don’t know if it will work on the new HDTV’s as they end up going quiet and saying….loss of signal) starts making a buzzing sound and your around the tornadio alley… I wouldn’t wait to hear the WX radio broadcast… seek shelter…

    A set of FRS , ham…. hand held radios might also be on the agenda… so you can stay in commucations with the family … no matter where they are… Cell phones work… sometimes.. but locally the hand held radio seem to be the ticket…

    Lots to think about here… for safety sake. but not to overdo it… because if you have all this check list… you won’t have time to enjoy why you came… :)

  2. Patrick W. Tribbey on July 27th, 2009 7:33 pm

    As I’ve stated on one of the other blogs: Safety is paramount AT ALL TIMES! However, after reading the above, what does one do when awakened in the middle of a storm with plenty of lightening, hail, rain, etc., and unable to get to a more secure place? (Office, etc.). I have a MIDLANDS Weather Alert radio in the MBR at home, and a portable, (battery/120 V), AM/FM/Weather Band radio in our ‘tag-along’ camper. Plus, whenever possible, I try to find the lastest weather conditions on “The Weather Channel” or local TV station wherever we may be. The movie “TWISTER” is a good example of what can happen. BTW, in that movie, Wakita, Oklahoma is an actual town—–used to live about 15-20 miles from it when I was a kid. :)
    Everyone please stay safe—no matter what the weather! :)

  3. chuck on July 27th, 2009 9:47 pm

    What can you do when there is no safe place nearby? 2 weeks ago we had stopped over night at a friends wooded lot in the country. our NOAA radio put out a tornado warning – there was wind, lightning and rain at the time. there were no ditches or safe building only tall trees which were same as lightning rods. we could have hooked up and left, but not sure where to go. finally just said a prayer and stayed put. fortunately no tornado developed and all was well.

  4. Bobby Woods on July 28th, 2009 6:47 am


    A great article! One thing that I think most RVr’s over look is what county are they in.

    Most of the time we know what major city we are close to but NOAA puts the warning and watches out for counties. I don’t have a GPS (yet). I still do things the old fashion way with folding maps (free at most welcome centers) and a good road atlas but still finding the county name amonst all of the other information on a map can sometimes be a chore.


  5. Fred Brandeberry, SR on July 28th, 2009 7:58 pm

    We were in northern Alabama several years ago, we had Ham Radio, Weather radio, FM radio and the National Weather Channel on our tv and did not detect the twister that ran along the ridge above our campground.
    The only communication we found that broadcast this treat was LOCAL TV.
    Happy Camping,
    Fred b.

  6. Mary Neville on June 4th, 2010 1:26 pm

    I have my first (new to me mini motor home RV) and I live in Fl. How do I prepare it for a hurricane? Strap it down, cover windows ? I work and can not always leave.

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