Knowing how to protect your RV from hurricanes, storms and high winds will help save you from serious damage or even total loss to your motorhome or camper.These hurricane preparation tips will also help save you money and alleviate stress from impending storms. But, where do you even start to hurricane proof an RV to begin with?
In a previous article we wrote, Severe Weather Tips for RVers and Campers, we focused mostly on personal safety and evacuation procedures for you and your family.
In this article, we are going to focus on protecting your RV from serious damage from hurricanes, severe storms, high winds and flooding.
So, batten down the hatches and let’s get to work while you have time before the storm arrives.
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How to Protect Your RV from a Hurricane or Prepare your RV for High Winds or Severe Storms
There’s a hurricane slated to hit landfall. And while most RVers will just hook up and leave, sometimes that’s not a viable option.
But, this is not the time to be lounging at your campsite or out sightseeing. You’ve got lots of work to do to protect your RV from nature’s wrath! Otherwise your RV isn’t going to survive unless you plan, prepare and protect your RV from hurricane damage.
48+ Hours prior to a hurricane or storm arrival
Call to Verify Insurance
If you’ve not done so in awhile, now would be a good idea to review your RV insurance as well as your other vehicles.
In fact, there’s a good chance your insurance company won’t even make any modifications to your insurance policy even up to a week prior to a big storm. So, my advice is to periodically, review your insurance policies before hurricane season arrives.
In saying that, some RV insurance companies have strict policy implications that are not conducive to some storm damage.
General damage caused by storms, including wind and hail, are mostly covered. However, any damage caused by leaving windows doors and vents open when the storm hits may not be covered.
Also, if your RV is set up in a flood zone, at best you should be trying to relocated it to higher ground. But, if not, ensure your RV insurance policy will cover flood damage. Make certain you see that in writing in your policy.
Just like regular homeowner’s insurance, you may have to get a separate flood insurance policy; especially if it’s permanently parked in a flood zone.
Also, ask your RV insurance provider if they cover all of your personal contents inside your RV. Some insurance companies cover personal contents up to a certain amount while others may require you to carry a separate Renters’ Insurance policy. Or, your personal contents may fall under your Homeowners’ policy if you own a home.
Any which way, double check, even triple check your policy well in advance way before hurricane season or severe storms arrive.
When contacting your insurance company, have all of your insurance information readily available; your RV and vehicle VIN numbers, policy numbers and any questions you may want to ask them.
Once you’ve finalized coverage on the phone, ask them to email you the new policy; noting any changes or upgrades. Again, review it thoroughly and report discrepancies at once.
Evaluate Your RV’s Location
When a hurricane is slated to make landfall, you really need to assess where your RV is located.
If your motorhome or camper is going to be within a hundred miles or so from where the eye of the hurricane will pass over, relocating your RV may be the wisest option. Removing your RV from potential ground zero will protect your RV from significant hurricane and high wind damage.
And especially if the campground or where your RV is located near a river, place of tidal changes or in a flood zone, relocating to higher ground or a more protected area is a given.
However, there may be instances where you may not drive your motorhome or pull your fifth wheel or trailer out of the storm’s path. That being said, you need to take a hard look and evaluate your location in relation to where the hurricane is slated for landfall and prepare accordingly.
First, look around the outside of your RV, your campsite and even other campsites near your motorhome or trailer. Pay particular attention to dead trees or tree limbs and branches, low power lines or anything that can become airborne.
Alert the campground to take care of these things immediately. Make a note of who you talked to, date and time. This could prove useful if and when you put in an insurance claim..
In other words, anything not secured properly
may will become airborne and potentially damage your RV. If they don’t care to secure anything, report their disregard to the campground staff.
Do realize, if you choose not to leave the area, you may not even be able to leave once the hurricane or storm passes. There’s potential of the roadways being blocked due to flooding, downed trees and power lines, road damage, etc.
So, think very carefully about staying versus hooking up and hauling out.
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Inspect Roof and Repair Seals and Gaskets
While you should already be properly maintaining your roof, it’s still a good idea to take a look at your RV roof. Pay particular attention to seals to ensure they’ve not lifted, dried or cracked.
For those towable RVs that have rubber roofs, look intently for holes, gouges, rips, and/or tears. Proper roof sealant and Eternabond tape are must needed essentials to repair and even protect your roof from damage.
PRO TIP: Take good care of your motorhome or camper’s roof so it will keep you dry inside. RV Roof Inspection, Cleaning and Maintenance
Fuel Motorhome and Vehicles
Fueling your motorhome, toad or tow vehicle isn’t really about protecting your RV from hurricane or storm damage. It’s about preparing your RV for evacuation when necessary.
So, you’ll definitely need to fuel or top off your motorhome and toad or tow vehicle.
Do not wait until last minute to fuel your vehicles!
Otherwise, you may be sitting in line at fuel stations and quite possibly end up being turned away because they ran out of fuel.
But also, should the power be knocked out, those those fuel pumps at fuel stations will not be able to operate.
Fill Your Propane Tanks
Do not wait to fill your propane tanks; especially if you’re thinking you’ll just refill them after the storm.
If you have a motorhome, while you’re out getting fuel, also take it to a propane filling station to top your propane tank as well.
If your fifth wheel or travel trailer has external tanks, remove them and take them to a propane station to get them filled. While you’re at it, get your BBQ propane tank filled as well.
If you have a camp stove or portable grill that uses those green propane canisters, consider getting a few extras. The same goes if you use a butane cook stove to cook. Don’t forget to pick up extra cans of butane.
After filling all of your propane tanks and canisters, ensure they are properly secured to your RV or vehicle. Do NOT just place them under your RV or in your truck bed. Otherwise, they run the risk of becoming projectiles.
RV PRO TIP: Don’t you hate it when your RV’s built-in internal propane level indicator lies? We solved that by getting an external propane tank monitor that connects to our phones via bluetooth. These propane monitoring devices register our propane tank level within 3% of accuracy than our motorhome’s OEM tank indicators that registered almost 50% accuracy!! You can get one for single propane tank or a dual propane monitor kit if your RV has 2 propane tanks.
Fuel Up Portable Generator
If your RV has an onboard diesel generator, it’s most likely using the same diesel tank as what your motorhome’s diesel engine uses. So, this goes with ensuring your RV’s fuel tank is completely full.
Likewise, if you have one or more portable generators, not only do you want each ready to go full of gasoline but it would be a good idea to have an extra approved gas can with gas as well.
So, if you lose power, at least you know you have extra fuel to get you through for at least a day or so.
PRO TIP: Before hurricane season even arrives, read why you should install a Soft Start on Your RV Air Conditioner
Test Your RV Generator or Portable Generator
While you should have been maintaining your RV generator monthly up to this point, you still should ensure it’s working properly. It’s important that you ensure it has fresh oil and your generator starts up with no issues. Also, know how to operate your generator.
And lastly, make certain you have enough fuel to power and allow your generator to run for at least 48-72 hours.
PRO TIP: Before firing up your Genny, take note of these important Generator Operating Tips and Rules for RVs
24 Hours Before Storm Arrives
Position Your RV to Head into the Wind
Most RVs can withstand winds up to 75 mph without tipping over. Straight-line winds pushing against the sides of your RV are not your friend.
Therefore, to avoid those broadside winds, you’ll need to re-position your RV to head into the wind. This will help stabilize your RV as well.
Stabilize your RV
If you have tandem wheels on your towable RV, chocking your wheels with X chocks is a smart move. They will help to add stabilization by keeping your RV from rolling forward or backwards.
For other RVs, simple wheel chocks wedged securely under your tires may help stabilize your camper as well.
Lower your RV Automatic Leveling System
Speaking of stabilizing your RV, if you have an automatic leveling system and/or RV stabilizers, you’ll want to put them at their lowest possible setting in accordance to being level.
The object is to stay low to the ground covering as much ground surface as possible. Also, make sure all of your wheels are on the ground. That may mean you’ll have to relocate your RV if you can’t level.
Fill Your RV Water Tank
Filling your RV’s water tank is a must do because it will help add weight to the lower portion of your RV. Remember, each gallon weighs roughly 8 pounds. Example, if your RV has a 100 water tank, you’ve added 800 pounds to help act as an anchor for your RV.
But also, sometimes water sources may be affected by storm surges and flooding.
So, stocking up on fresh potable water is a no brainer. Just make certain you clean and sanitize your fresh water tank first.
Also, be mindful and instruct all family members to conserve water to the best they can. Again, you don’t know how long it will be until you can hook up to a clean water source.
If you have a Berkey, I suggest using it to filter as much drinking and cooking water as you can and store the water in clean potable-water-only collapsible jugs.
And, if you have space to store them, fill up as many potable water containers or jugs that your RV will allow (weight and space) for extra reassurance.
Recommended water storage containers:
6-Piece Set of 5-Gallon Stackers = 30 Gallons
Rigid Water Container = 7 Gallons
2-Pack Collapsible Water Container – 5.3 Gallons Each
4-Pack Collapsible Water Containers – 1.3 Gallons Each (Great for Berkey filtered water!)
Empty Black and Gray Tank
Knowing there’s a storm coming, you will definitely need to empty and flush your black tank thoroughly along with your gray tank.
If you’re in an area where flooding may occur, that may disallow you from emptying your tanks days or even weeks after the storm passes.
And for that, you’re going to need all the tank space you can to ride out not only the storm but also the days after.
Read more: RV Black Tank Cleaning and Maintenance Tips
For an in-depth look at how to properly clean and maintain your tanks and water system, check out our video below:
Secure and Stow All Outdoor Gear
The day before the hurricane, storm or even high wind warning occurs, it’s imperative that you stow all of your campsite gear.
Otherwise, whatever is not stowed or secured properly will become a projectile in which will damage your RV or other’s nearby or worse, cause injury or death to persons in their path.
You will also want to roll up your outdoor carpet or RV mat and stow that as well. Larger things such as picnic tables should be tied securely to a sturdy tree if possible.
Oh, and speaking of camping gear, before stowing your coolers, it would be a good idea to go fill them with ice just in case you need it after the storm passes.
You won’t have to go searching for ice after should the electricity go out and you need to ice down your food perishables.
Stow Your RV Flagpole
In high winds, your flag pole will most likely break free from your RV or snap apart making it a spear-like projectile. But you should take proper care of Old Glory. Your American flag should never be out in inclement weather anyways.
So, you’ll need to take your flag pole down and stow it inside your RV.
PRO TIP: Check out these RV Flag Mounts: How to Fly Your Flags on Your RV
3-4 Hours Prior to Hurricane Making Landfall
Board Up Windows
I know this may sound like overkill for an RV. However, if you’re a stationary RVer who can’t leave the campground, it’s a necessary precaution to protect your RV.
Now of course, boarding up your RV windows aren’t going to totally protect your windows from large trees, heavy branches or big things from jetting into your windows. But, boarding up the windows on your motorhome or camper will help keep smaller tree branches and limbs or other projectiles from breaking them.
Another reason to board up your RV windows is it will help protect them from high-force wind gusts from blowing in your windows or shattering the glass.
And, though your windshield can take the brunt of high winds, it would make sense to also board it up as well to protect it. At least minimally is better than nothing.
That said, boarding up windows on an RV is not like boarding up windows on a house. You’re not going to be pounding nails into plywood or into the sides of your RV.
Trust me, it will be much easier to remove tape residue from the outside of your RV than replacing expensive RV windows that may be even hard to get!
Secure Your RV Awnings
Of course, securing your RV’s awning should be a no-brainer when it comes to hurricane and storm preparation. I’m sure you’ve seen photos of what happens to RV awnings in the wind. Not only will you lose your awning but it has great potential of damaging your RV which, both are costly to repair or replace.
Disconnect and Stow All Utilities
You’ve been glued to the TV watching the hurricane updates but it’s almost time to pull the plug. I’m talking about disconnecting your electric from the pedestal or other electric source. You certainly don’t want to be wrestling your electric cable once the wind starts ripping through.
So, make sure you stow all of your cords, cables, surge protector, hoses and adaptors properly and securely. This includes:
In other words, leave nothing outside! Because, not only will your water and sewer hoses be totally annihilated, your hoses and cords will be a mangled mess a mile away after the hurricane has left. And who wants to be picking up someone else’s stinky slinky anyway when it’s time for cleanup?
1 Hour Prior to Hurricane Making Landfall
Secure Television, Satellite Dish & WiFi Antennae
One thing that a lot of RV owners forget is to take down their antennae (Wifi or television). That said, it’s understandable why you may want to leave them up to stay in tune with the local weather broadcasts.
Just remember though, if you have to remove anything from your roof, it’s best you do it before the wind starts to roll in. For safety sake, always have a spotter when getting on a ladder or onto your RV’s roof.
Bring in All Slides
You’ll want to bring in all of your slides to provide better stability for your RV. Pulling in all of your slides condenses the weight to a smaller footprint making your RV less likely to move.
If you don’t pull in your slides, the wind’s updraft under your slides could potentially flip your RV over on its’ side.
Also, pulling in your slides during a storm with lots of rain will help keep driving rain from seeping in through your slide seals. And of course, it helps keep your awning toppers intact.
Turn Off Propane
Just as if you’re getting your RV ready to get underway, you should secure your propane before the storm or hurricane makes landfall. Only use it when absolutely necessary such as for heat.
Evacuate! Head to a Storm Shelter!
Now that you’ve done everything you can to protect your RV from hurricane, high winds or storm, it’s time to abandon ship!
The worst place for you and your family during hurricanes, tornados and severe storms accompanied by high winds is inside your RV or camper. And don’t forget to take your emergency bug out bag!
Because the photo below is an example of what could happen thus, causing severe injury or even death to your or your family members and your pets!
DO NOT STAY IN YOUR RV DURING A HURRICANE, TORNADO WARNING, SEVERE STORM or HIGH WIND EVENT!
PRO TIP: While you will definitely want an RV-friendly GPS for directions to get to a safe place out of a hurricane’s or severe storm’s path, you can back up your plan with easily get RV-safe directions and more right on your phone with the RV LIFE App. Also try the RV Life Trip Planner.
Final thoughts on protecting your RV from a hurricane or storm
These hurricane preparation tips should help guide you to properly plan, prepare and protect your RV from hurricane damage. The big thing is to get your RV protected way before the hurricane or severe storm even arrives.
RVs are expensive to replace or repair and so is displacement. But, by taking these much needed precautions will help minimize damage to your motorhome or camper.
Do not wait until last minute to prepare for or protect your RV from hurricane or storm. Procrastination is not only expensive but also extremely dangerous and life threatening!
Related Weather & Emergency Information
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