By Chris Dougherty
Certified RV technician
This is part 2 of a series of articles about Disaster Preparedness for RVers.
The key word when planning for specific post-disaster needs is “difference.” We all have varying personal needs for ourselves, our spouses, our children and even our pets. All of these differences make it important for each family to review those needs and have a plan in place for dealing with those differences.
RVing can, in some circumstances, be an advantage when faced with a pending disaster, or if one has occurred that has left you without resources at home but without major damage to your RV.
First and foremost, RVers should be sure that they can stay safe! The RV may not be the place to be in the event of a disaster like a wildfire or severe weather threat. Where will you go in the event of a tornado? A flood? A fire? If you are in a campground or other facility, is there a shelter to go to? Who do you call if you have an emergency? Do you know exactly where you are if you have to call for assistance?
RVs may provide a means of escape and self-sufficiency in the event of a predicted disaster like a hurricane. If your RV will serve for this purpose, make sure it’s ready to go and has what you need in it for an extended time away.
A few more examples of considerations for tailoring your plans and supplies include:
• Make sure you have a way of receiving emergency alerts and warnings in an accessible form if needed. This includes services for the deaf or hard-of-hearing folks, people with eyesight-related disabilities and those who don’t speak English.
• If you have children with you, make sure you have all the supplies you need with you, like diapers, medications, dietary needs and so on. The same goes for your pets — who are, of course, family members.
• People with special dietary needs should have an emergency supply of appropriate foodstuffs to meet their needs.
• Make sure your RV is completely fueled up and the water tank is full, if possible.
• Consider having written medical histories located on your person, in your coach, etc. An example would be the Vial of Life program, where this information in kept in or on the refrigerator for easy access by EMS personnel, if needed.
• Many shelters will not admit pets, so if you need to use a shelter, find out where your pet can go. If you’re using your RV to escape a pending disaster, make sure you have all the necessary supplies for the pet, including copies of a valid rabies certificate.
• Your RV gives you great power flexibility, and as long as you can keep the coach charged, you’ll have lights and some of the appliances, etc. If you use power-operated medical assist devices like breathing machines, CPAP systems, etc., make sure you have an adequate power source for them. Most motorhomes have generators than can run these, but if your RV isn’t equipped with a generator, you can install one, bring one along, or equip your RV with a green energy power supply system including an inverter, battery bank and solar charging system.
• If you take medicine or use a medical treatment on a daily basis, be sure you have what you need on hand to make it on your own for at least a week, and keep a copy of your prescriptions as well as dosage or treatment information. If it is not possible to have a week-long supply of medicines and supplies, keep as much as possible on hand and talk to your pharmacist or doctor about what else you should do to prepare. If you undergo routine treatments administered at a clinic or hospital, or if you receive regular services such as home health care, treatment or transportation, talk to your service provider about their emergency plans. Work with them to identify backup service providers within your area and other areas you might evacuate to.
• Include copies of important documents in your emergency supply kits such as family records, medical records, wills, deeds, Social Security Number, credit card and bank account information, and tax records. It is best to keep these documents in a waterproof container. Also have copies of your medical insurance, Medicare and Medicaid cards readily available. If there is any information related to operating equipment or life-saving devices that you rely on, include those in your emergency kit as well. If you have a communication disability, make sure your emergency information list notes the best way to communicate with you. Also be sure you have cash or travelers checks in your kits in case you need to purchase supplies.
• If you use eyeglasses, hearing aids and hearing aid batteries, wheelchair batteries or oxygen, be sure you always have extras in your kit.
Floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, blizzards and fires all happen, some with warning and some without — but you can survive them all if you’re Disaster Aware and Take Action To Prepare!
For more information, visit the National Preparedness Month website.