What to Do if You’re Camping During a Tornado Watch

Summer is the most popular season to hit the road in your RV, but it’s far from hazard-free. Tornadoes can happen anywhere in the United States, and when you’re camping in an RV, it’s essential that you know how to keep yourself and your rig as safe as possible during severe weather. Before you take pack up and take your RV out of your storage facility, familiarize yourself with these tips for handling tornado watches and warnings.

Pick up Your Site
If severe weather is in the forecast or the National Weather Service issues a tornado watch for your area, the first thing you should do is pick up your campsite if possible. Put items like grills, chairs, fencing, outdoor rugs, toys, and any other equipment away, or tie them down to the best of your ability. This will reduce the risk of those items going airborne if the wind kicks up. 

If you have outdoor storage compartments, use them to house the items you need to pick up quickly. If you don’t or your storage compartments are full, bring what you can into your RV. It may make the floorplan crowded during the storm, but it will keep your rig and your neighbors safer in the meantime.

Pull in Your Awnings
RV awnings are designed to withstand light winds, not heavy gusts or sustained winds over 20 mph. As soon as the tornado watch is issued, pull your awnings in. If you have them tied down, remove the tie-downs and retract your awnings fully. Leaving them out is an easy way to damage the material and the structure of the awning itself. 

Remember, it’s not just your main shade awning you’ll want to be mindful of. You’ll also want to protect your slide awnings if you have them. Pull your slides in once the wind kicks up. This will keep the awnings from catching the wind and can even make your RV more stable during those stronger gusts. 

Wait until the severe weather alert is no longer active before you extend your awnings and your slides again. 

Lock Your Storage Compartments 
Strong winds and pressure changes can cause your outdoor storage compartments to pop open if they’re not locked. As soon as the severe weather warning is issued and you’re done securing your campsite, lock your storage compartments. The locks should reduce the risk of items getting damaged and will make it easier for your doors to stay shut, reducing the chances of them bending or getting dented in the wind.

Find Shelter
Staying in your RV during a tornado warning is a major safety hazard. RVs can and will tip under the right conditions, and if the tornado moves through your campground, it could send your RV flying. Instead of planning to ride out the storm in your rig, find shelter. Permanent bathhouses, community buildings, and other permanent structures are a much safer option. 

Stay Safe With These Tips
Don’t let severe weather keep you from enjoying your trip. Just keep these tips in mind and be ready for tornados and other severe storms before they happen. Remember, you can always repair or replace your RV if it’s damaged during a storm—your insurance company will likely even help. 

Need repairs after getting stuck in a hailstorm or want to replace your awning after it was ripped away by a strong gust of wind? GoHomePort can help. Schedule an appointment with our RV service and repair team today.
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