Most motorhomes owners view their RV as a route to adventure—the open road—free to roam where and when they please. Some take a more practical view and see their RV as a full-time home, whether roaming or stationary. Likely few of us may have considered that our motorhomes are also an asset in the event of a major unforeseen event, such as a natural emergency or other unexpected forms of chaos and uncertainty. The COVID-19 pandemic that commenced in early 2020 changed a lot of thinking about preparation for the unexpected. Is your RV ready for an emergency?
It is a good idea to keep the dry-goods part of your RV pantry well-stocked year-round. While it may not always be advisable or possible to operate the refrigerator continuously while the RV is parked or in storage, dry food can be stored onboard, with some caveats.
In a recent article in the Frugal RVer series, I outlined inexpensive and efficient ways to store food in the RV. I do not recommend going overboard with this—you only have so much storage space in even the largest RV. Still, with a few containers of dry long-lasting foodstuffs, you can feel confident of having enough to last a month or two if necessary.
I do not recommend keeping large quantities of items such as flour in onboard storage. Even though you can safeguard the stash from rodents and some insects by adequately sealing the stored food, flour is different. It has a relatively short storage life of about one year. Use food-grade containers for all dry food storage and thoroughly seal the lids.
It’s a good idea to keep at least a small supply of potable water onboard. Just remember that it weighs 8.3 lb. per gallon, plus the weight of the storage container. I keep ten gallons stored in BPA-free potable water containers and rotate the stored supply not less frequently than monthly. Even in a large Class A coach, there is not enough space to carry more than a minimal emergency supply that will sustain you until you can get to a fresh water source.
Keep house and chassis batteries charged. In most cases, if plugged into shore power this will occur automatically. But if stored, seasonally dormant, or boondocking, it is a good idea to plug into a power source or run your generator periodically to keep storage batteries topped. Solar power charging will also fill this need.
Also, for added help in an emergency and in the event that start batteries become discharged, I carry a compact emergency jump starter, sufficient to enable an engine start. The Micro-Start XP-10 is robust enough to provide starting voltage to most diesel engines, and also has ports for charging and operating electronic devices.
I recommend maintaining at least one or two days’ supply of firewood onboard to avoid having to scavenge for wood at a destination in an emergency.
Propane is vital to the RV that operates its cook range, oven, refrigerator, and furnace on LPG. So be sure to fill when the propane gauge drops below 1/2 – 3/4 full. Maintaining your supply at close to full capacity is not only a good idea for emergency considerations, but don’t forget—in 2021, we had a propane shortage scare that did not fully materialize but nevertheless gave cause for concern for ready supply on the road. I also keep a half-dozen bottles of camp cook stove propane on hand as well.
Keep an eye on tire condition and pressure, especially during the dormant off-season months, boondocking, or during any extended period of idleness. A significant emergency would not be a good time to need tire service, replacement, or roadside service. For camper vans Class B and C operators, it goes without saying that you will probably carry a spare tire. This issue is more complex for the Class A motorist who, like me, does not have the room to haul around a 200+ lb. spare tire, nor the ability to remove a flat tire, mount a spare while on the road on the rim, etc. My experience and observation are that most Class A coach owners do not carry a spare. But this can be a significant hindrance to travel in an emergency that may shutter tire shops and curtail roadside service organizations.
In the increasingly uncertain world in which we live, it is a good idea to remember the Boy Scout motto and keep your RV ready to aid in dealing with an emergency.
I agree with some of these basic steps should be done, but I am sorry. If I was near the gulf and a hurricane was forecast, we would be GONE. I don’t have much sympathy for people who try to wait it out or get caught in major storms or forest fires, or who get flooded out in a low lying campground. Having emergency stores is fine but smart behavior is the best. Time to use our heads, as one movie line notes, you know that thing 3 feet about your ars*. Come on people, time to be smart.
Water weight be damned, I keep tanks full all the time. RV always stocked with dried/canned food, tools – including ax and saw, clothes, gas and water, (Ax – tornado went thru our neighborhood one year and trees down would not allow any in or out of our neighborhood.) Oh, we are in hurricane territory.
Agree with Ron, about the fire that destroyed Paradise, CA. It is best to have your RV (motorized or not) ready to travel at a moments notice. We always keep at least 20-30 gallons of fresh water in the tank, the propane full, batteries maintained, engine and generator exercised, and the gas tank at least 1/2 full.
I regularly drive our RV three to four times a month. Oil leaks, creaks, groans, electrical issues are checked and repaired as necessary. When a natural or man-made disaster happens, you don’t have time to fix your RV before you can evacuate.
The preps listed are all good, but sometimes you need a bit of knowledge. Check with the local office of the Red Cross or your Fire Department. Sign-up for three classes. The first is First Aid. The second is CPR (Adult and pediatric). The third is a relatively new course called “Stop the Bleed” (this course was designed for shooting incidents, but with any trauma that suggests a tourniquet, this course will be useful).
I agree with Bernard Hoppe. Transporting firewood is not a good practice. Instead, just buy some packaged fireplace logs. DuraFlame and Pine Mountain are a couple of names. Less dirt, no pests and compact storage in your RV.
You should all check this out and decide if your scruples are OK with transporting firewood: https://www.dontmovefirewood.org/
Propane gauge ?
I have a problem with carrying firewood around. In most states that is a no no due to spreading forest pest. But I guess if you get your firewood from Walmart, it’s OK.
buy Kiln dried firewood
Right, available at big box stores and IF it has USDA certification label it is considered safe to transport across state lines.
2 spare propane tanks to swap, 4 five gallon gas cans for generator use, enough dry goods for 5 days, half tank freshwater. I have reminders to check tire pressure monthly, charge battery (coach and generator) every 45 days, run ac and heater every 45 days when exercising generator. I always check tires and lug nut torque after each trip (of course during trip). I normally refill my truck fuel tank at half tank which if not able to get fuel, will at least get me out of the earthquake disaster zone.
We are more prepared during the warmer months than during winter, for rather obvious reasons. It can get really cold here in northern NV. So, we hope any emergencies only happen during the summer. C’mon, it’s an attempt at a joke . . .
I keep a large cookie tin in our trailer with dehydrated and freeze dried food in it. Enough for a week. Good sources are:
The “Rancher’s Cut” freeze dried meats are really good.
I suggest you use a trickle (battery maintainer) instead, and here’s why. Your converter has a set amount of hour life, if you keep that as your source, your using up that electrical component, rather than a cheap trickle charger. Always top off your batteries before using the latter, as they are not designed to charge.
Great article & advice. In Nov 2018, I was at my mom’s in Paradise CA moving her to TX on the day the Camp fire started. Trying to leave, many people were trying to get their TT & motorized RV going, some even broken down on crowded roads where others were trying to evacuate. We only had a short while before the fire took the town. We try to keep our MH ready during most if the yr except now in the winter. We have had to use our then TT in 2008 Ike hurricane, it helped while we had no power or water for days.
Nice article. A item or two to consider also would be keeping your fuel tank full, keeping a well stocked first aid kit with additional items to control bleeding such as 4×4 gauze, wound dressings and so forth. It might also be good to keep a concealed cash supply for times when credit cards don’t work. In my list is also fishing gear and shot gun for collecting your own food if it gets ugly out there.