It’s tornado season in North America and for some reason trailer parks and campgrounds seem to be prime targets. If a severe weather warning hits while you’re in your RV, do you know how to stay safe in a campground or RV park during a tornado?
Tornado Warning Signs
If you’re in a tornado-prone area and you notice any of these signs of a pending tornado, get ready to seek safety:
- Large hail
- Loud, roaring noise like a freight train.
- Grayish/greenish clouds forming
- Visibly rotating clouds on the horizon
- A cloud wall that looks like low-lying thunderclouds
- Cloud progressively extending down to ground, increasingly funnel-shaped
- Rotating dust and debris rising up from the ground
- An electrical current in the air.
Who is most At Risk in a Tornado?
When you’re away from your home, if a tornado strikes your chances of being injured are huge. That’s because you won’t be familiar with locations of the safest places to be during the storm. If you’re at a campground, your risks go up exponentially because of the lack of safe structures where you can take cover.
Tornadoes can happen anywhere so geographically speaking, everyone is a potential tornado victim. Of course some places get hit more than others. But if you’re in a RV park, you are among the most at-risk groups of people if a tornado strikes. This is why the evening news is always full of stories about trailer parks being hit. And if you’re outdoors or driving in your vehicle that’s just as dangerous as if you were sitting in your RV when a tornado blows in.
Tornado Safety Tips for RVers
If you’re in any kind of manufactured housing the best thing you can do to stay safe while you’re in the campground or RV park is to:
- Pay attention to local weather forecasts and warnings. Monitor the National Weather Service Forecast website with a weather radio, not your cell phone, for hazardous weather outlooks in your area.
- Know your exact location. If the National Weather Service issues a warning, you’ll know if your location is included in it.
- Look around the campground for the closest shelter. A basement is ideal but seeking shelter in the hallways of an office, inside a restroom stall or even the center of a laundry facility is better than nothing. Stay away from windows to protect yourself against flying glass.
- Be ready to quickly evacuate to safe shelter at a moment’s notice. Don’t spend precious time grabbing anything other than you and your pets. Get out quickly.
The National Weather Service makes it easy to remember what to do:
- GET IN – If you are outside, get inside. If you are already inside, get as far into the middle of the building as possible.
- GET DOWN – Get underground. If there is no basement or cellar available, go to the lowest floor possible.
- COVER UP – Flying and falling debris are a storm’s number one killer. Use pillows, blankets, coats, helmets, etc to cover up and protect your head and body from flying debris.
Chances are you may never have to use these tornado safety strategies but if you do, you’ll be glad you prepared ahead of time. Your life depends on it.
Often called “The O.G. of full-time RVing,” Rene Agredano and her husband Jim Nelson hit the road in a fifth wheel trailer in 2007, after their dog Jerry lost a leg to terminal cancer. Sixteen years later they are still traveling and sharing their nomadic adventures at LiveWorkDream. As a self-employed wordsmith, Rene shares her expertise for many RV industry videos, publications such as the Escapees RV Club Magazine, and has authored numerous books, including the Essential RVing Guide to National Parks, and Income Anywhere, a guide to earning money on the road. She has been featured in global media outlets including the PBS documentary “NATURE: Why We Love Cats and Dogs,” The Guardian Sunday Edition, and the Dan Pink book Free Agent Nation.
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