Wednesday, November 29, 2023


When hurricanes hit the headlines, your RV hits the road

Headline, September 18, 2022: “All of Puerto Rico without power as Hurricane Fiona slams island”

Headline, September 21, 2022: “A hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico next week? Forecasters warn of ‘significant threat’ to US”

Headline, September 22, 2022: “Satellites track 5 storms as Atlantic hurricane season heats up”

Were/are you or a loved one included in the vast number affected by these storms? If you weren’t, don’t feel left out. It seems the pace of disasters is on the rise. Maybe it won’t be a hurricane, but what about a wildfire rushing toward your home or an earthquake disrupts utility services? Some years ago our family was placed on mandatory evacuation when a fire at a nearby pesticide storage facility endangered lives for miles around. At that time, we had no RV and we spent some uncomfortable nights on air mattresses on a relative’s floor. Still, that was better than a cot in a crowded gymnasium.

As of September 22, 2022, five storms are being tracked across the Atlantic. Image credit: NOAA

It’s not “if,” but “when”

It’s really not a matter of “if” some emergency will force you to evacuate. It’ll be more likely a matter of “when.” For RVers, having the old reliable rig ready and available to roll down the driveway at a moment’s notice can make a huge difference in comfort, and possibly in life safety. How ready is your RV to take on the assignment? Just what does it take to have your RV queued up as your “bug out vehicle”?

Whether you have a motorhome or a towable rig, there are common critical essentials that you can keep at hand, year-round. Keep the fuel tank on the coach or the tow vehicle full. Several RVers who have had to evacuate from disasters in the past have remarked on how long the lines at local fuel stations grew. And the more time that elapses from the notification of a pending disaster, the greater the chance that your local stations could simply run out of fuel. Having enough fuel in the tank to get at least a hundred miles or more away from your area could make a huge difference. And keep the propane tanks filled up, too.

Getting your RV prepared for hurricanes or other natural disasters

At the same time, keeping the holding tanks empty (or close to it) when the rig is parked at home is one less thing to worry about. And what about fresh water? Obviously, you won’t be able to keep the fresh water full when your nighttime temperatures fall to the freezing range, but at least one RVer commented that as soon as it’s safe where he lives, he fills up the fresh water tanks and keeps them full—just in case. Having a few cases of bottled drinking water in the house, and easily transferred to the RV, is a good safeguard.

Food? Keeping nonperishables in the RV year-round is a great idea. Freeze-dried foods may not be the tastiest things that ever rolled off the assembly line, but a few days of freeze-dried meals beats going hungry. And to make getting out of your house in a hurry easier, keep clothing for the whole family in the RV. Nothing elaborate, but enough to keep them warm and dry for a few days. What else? One “prepared” RVer had this to say on an RV forum: “Our RV is always stocked with nonperishable foods, and our water tank full and kept fresh. Full fuel. Medications, food for the dog, spare batteries for the flashlights, and morale-building scotch and vino, too!”

“Hurricane Box”

Another seasoned RVer from hurricane country reminds us of other important items. “We have a ‘Hurricane Box,’ a portable file cabinet with all the important papers on us, house, cars, etc. It stays in the motorhome from the start of hurricane season on.” Yes, if you should come home and find no “home,” having those important insurance papers and titles is essential. And not a bad idea to have a “flash drive” with photos of all the stuff you own—it’ll make it a lot easier to file insurance claims.

Be ready for evacuation

What about the “when and where” of an evacuation? The “when” is simple: The sooner, the better. When evacuation orders from a pending weather issue come out, “getting out of Dodge” is a lot easier right away. Imagine getting stuck in a freeway “parking lot” scenario, where traffic is bumper-to-bumper and moving along at a snail’s pace or worse. Not only will your nerves be victimized, but the toll on your fuel tanks will also be tremendous. The sooner you can get out of the disaster area, the better off you’ll be.

As to the “where,” local authorities will probably try to help with evacuation routes. Don’t be too complacent. Familiarize yourself with the kinds of dangers that can be expected where you live, and then make a plan, with alternatives, as to where to head to escape the danger.

Many RVers have commented on how finding a place to stay can be difficult. Again, leaving as soon as you can will make it easier to find a cooperative RV park or campground to stay in. But what if you can’t find a place with electrical hookups? For many, our RVs are truly “self-contained” and with enough water and LP, we’re set for pavement camping. Some have raised concerns about those with “residential” refrigerators in their rigs.

How long can you hang out without an electrical hookup?

RV writers Jason and Nikki Wynn, Gone With the Wynns, did a hands-on field test of just how much power a typical residential RV refrigerator chews up. The Wynns’ Sanyo refrigerator, fired from batteries through an inverter, called for 200 amp-hours in an 11-hour period. Actual kilowatts used by the fridge itself ran 1.53. Yes, there’s a loss through the inverter and other parasitic loads. In a separate test, using shore power and keeping the inside air temp in their coach down to 74 degrees, the fridge claimed nearly 2.4 kwh in a 24-hour period. Any way you slice it, residential refrigerators chew up a lot of power. You can’t always depend on Old Sol to be bright and shiny where you evacuate to; hence, if depending on a residential refrigerator, better have a generator and plenty of fuel.


Finally, a note on your emotions. One scientific study showed that people displaced from their homes due to emergencies were much more likely to face issues of depression, anxiety, and even post-traumatic stress disorder. While the study didn’t go into the cause factors, the link was surely there. It seems logical enough that people who are chased out of their homes would indeed be stressed. Having the fallback position of a familiar “place” like their RV would go a long way to reducing these problems. So keep your RV ready to roll, and your chin up.

And, most importantly, stay safe.


Russ and Tiña De Maris
Russ and Tiña De Maris
Russ and Tiña went from childhood tent camping to RVing in the 1980s when the ground got too hard. They've been tutored in the ways of RVing (and RV repair) by a series of rigs, from truck campers, to a fifth-wheel, and several travel trailers. In addition to writing scores of articles on RVing topics, they've also taught college classes for folks new to RVing. They authored the book, RV Boondocking Basics.



0 0 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe to comments
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Tom (@guest_203941)
1 year ago

If you decide to run, run early and far. When you stop fill up immediately.
MRE type meals will keep you alive.Taste be ignored. Cases of water are important
3 minutes without air.
3 days without water.
3 weeks without food.

Roger V (@guest_203934)
1 year ago

Very bad idea to put your vital documents in the RV during the whole hurricane season (the hurricane box mentioned above – unless you’re a full timer of course. An RV is far more likely to get stolen, vandalized or burn down than is your house. Just have those documents in a central place ready to go. Then take them as you’re leaving. Have a checklist.

Frank B (@guest_203889)
1 year ago

It isn’t possible to plan for every eventuality, of course. Some weather events or other catastrophes are just too big to get yourself out of the way, and some might only focus on that. In other cases, leaving an area may be wise, or one could be ordered to evacuate. Therefore, some good suggestions here that at least offer some options depending on the type and scope of the threat. It gave me some food for thought. Thanks!

Alan Sills (@guest_203689)
1 year ago

Your article while it DOES provide some very useful information is also unnecessarily alarmist. Late September is the PEAK of the hurricane season – its COMMON to see several storms or potential storms threaten the mainland USA.

The fact is that storms are NO MORE PREVALENT than they were 60 years ago, BUT, people living on/near the coastline ARE! So, naturally, damage is greater now than “back then.”

This season frankly has been quite tame compared to normal (thus far.) Oh, and its METEOROLOGISTS tracking the storms, not climatologists.

DW/ND (@guest_203604)
1 year ago

Our major threats are tornado’s and blizzards. If we get hit by a tornado, I am sure the motor home would be gone also or trapped by debris. We have been hit many times by blizzards and there is no leaving or escaping from them. Living in the Rv after a blizzard is a option but extremely limited as the storm passes comes the -30f temps. No water, insufficient heat and possibly no power. Fridge would be cold tho! I know join the birds of a feather and head south! (But who would take care of our property?)

Tommy Molnar (@guest_203583)
1 year ago

For us, it’s wildfires and earthquakes. Our trailer is in our yard ready to go at a moment’s notice. The trailer is in a spot where even if the house fell down the trailer would hopefully be unscathed and we could survive in it.

Wayne (@guest_203495)
1 year ago

My wife and I grew up on the Gulf Coast, and still live here. We survived the Cat 5 in 1969, and all subsequent storms. Our parents were good at teaching us to be prepared. We are acutely tuned into the weather and stay prepared. Changes are occurring continuously; it makes sense to stay prepared. I start the generator monthly and keep the tank full as suggested. We haven’t left yet but will if we feel we should. Fiona posed no threat, but the other 4 have potential. We’ll be ready, but nothing is more important than leaving. We have insurance to cover ‘Things.”

mimi (@guest_203478)
1 year ago

Well, I live in Atlantic Canada and we just woke up this morning after Fiona barrelled thru our region thru the night. We did have our trailer ready to go, hitched and prepped, if need be to evacuate. Luckily for us, we didn’t need to use it and we still—miraculously–have power. I am thankful each and every storm that we have a trailer that could be pressed into immediate service should we be forced to evacuate.

Sign up for the

RVtravel Newsletter

Sign up and receive 3 FREE RV Checklists: Set-Up, Take-Down and Packing List.