Knowing how to protect your RV from hurricane, high winds and severe storms will not only save you from highly potential serious damage or even total loss to your motorhome or camper but also, a lot of money and stress. But, if you’re unfamiliar or new to RVing, it can be overwhelming. Where do you even start to prepare your RV for the hurricane’s arrival?
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. Since we’re in the middle of hurricane season and violent storms that can pop up at moment’s notice, we thought it would be beneficial to share our tips on how to protect your RV from hurricane, flooding and high wind damage.
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 Hurricane or Severe Storm Damage
While the weather looks absolutely amazing in the photo above, this is not the time to be lounging at your campsite or out sightseeing if there is an impending storm forecast to arrive in the next few days.
You’ve got work to do! Because your RV isn’t going to survive unless you plan, prepare and protect your RV from hurricane damage.
48+ HOURS PRIOR TO 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 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.
We learned that some RV insurance companies have strict policy implications 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 won’t be covered.
All of that said, if your RV is set up in a flood zone, ensure your policy will cover flood damage. Just like regular homeowner’s insurance, you may have to get a separate flood insurance policy if your RV is located in a flood zone.
Also, ask your RV insurance provider if they cover all of your personal contents inside your RV. Some cover them while others may require you to carry a separate Renters’ Insurance policy or it may fall under your Homeowners’ policy. Either way, it’s wise to double review your policy well in advance; even before severe storm or hurricane season arrives.
Make certain you have all of your insurance information readily available such as your RV’s and vehicle’s VIN numbers, policy numbers and any questions you may want to ask them.
Evaluate Your RV’s Location
If you cannot drive or pull your RV because you have to stay behind, it’s important to take the time to evaluate your location.
Look around the outside of your RV, your campsite or even other campsites near your motorhome or trailer. Be concerned with dead trees, dead tree limbs and branches, low power lines or things that can become airborne.
If your RV or camper is in a flood zone or if there’s potential of the roadways being blocked by those aforementioned, it’s time to hook up and haul out. Take your motorhome or camper to higher ground or a more protected area until the hurricane or storm passes. Relocating your RV may be the wisest choice to protect your RV from hurricane and high wind damage.
Inspect Roof and Repair Seals and Gaskets
While you should already be conscious of your roof’s condition and properly maintaining it, it still would be a good measure to go up the ladder and take a look at it. Pay attention to seals to ensure they’ve not lifted, dried or cracked.
Read more: RV Roof Inspection, Cleaning and Maintenance
Fuel Motorhome and Vehicles
Fueling your RV, 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 it’s time.
So, you’ll definitely need to fuel or top off your motorhome and toad or tow vehicle. Don’t wait until last minute to do fuel up either. Otherwise, you may be sitting in line and quite possibly end up being turned away from the fuel stations 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 Propane Tanks
If you have a motorhome, while you’re out filling its’ fuel tank, 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.
It’s also a good idea to perhaps, fill up your BBQ propane tank as well. If you have a camp stove or portable grill, consider picking up a few of those 1 pound green propane canisters.
After filling all of your propane tanks and canisters, ensure they are properly secured. You certainly don’t want those becoming projectiles.
By the way, check out these propane tank indicator monitors (below) that bluetooth to your phone. We swear by these! They register our propane tank level much more accurately than the OEM tank indicators on our utility service panel inside our coach.
Get Fuel for Portable Generator
If you have a portable generator or two, don’t forget to take your approved gas can to the fuel station to fill it up with gasoline. Likewise, if your RV has an onboard generator, take it to a propane or diesel fuel station to refill. You may need it after the storm if electricity goes out.
Read more: Top Portable Generators for RV Camping
Test Your RV Generator or Portable Generator
While you should have been maintaining your RV generator even up to this point, you still should ensure it’s working properly. Make certain the oil is fresh and your generator starts up with no hesitation or issues.
Also, don’t wait until last minute to remember how to operate your generator(s). And lastly, make certain you have enough fuel to power and allow your generator to run for at least 48-72 hours.
24 HOURS PRIOR TO STORM ARRIVAL
Position Your RV to Head into the Wind
When parked, most RVs can withstand winds up to 75 mph without tipping over. So, as you see, straight-line winds pushing against the sides of your RV are not your friend. Therefore, 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 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.
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
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. So, 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 you can. Again, you don’t know how long it will be until you can hook up to a clean water source. And lastly, if you have space, fill up some potable water jugs for extra reassurance.
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.
This includes your grill, portable fire pit, camp chairs, portable camp tables, and even yard art or whatever other camping gear you have on your campsite. 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. So, you’ll need to take your flag pole down and stow it inside your RV. But also, take proper care of Old Glory. Your American flag should never be out in inclement weather anyways.
3-4 HOURS PRIOR
Secure Your RV Awnings
Of course, securing all of your RV’s awnings are a no brainer when it comes to storm preparation. Because by now, you’ve most likely 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.
Disconnect All Utilities
While I could suggest to disconnect all of your utilities until last minute, don’t do that. Take extra precautions while you have time and can think clearly which is why disconnecting your utilities should be done even before the wind starts knocking at your door.
Unplug your electrical cord and disconnect water and sewer hose just as you would getting underway.
Bring in Your RV Sewer Hose, Electrical Cord, Surge Protector and Water Hose
As mentioned previously, not only will you need to disconnect all of your utilities, you’ll need to properly stow your RV electric cord, surge protector, water hose and sewer hose. Leave nothing outside! Because not only will your sewer hose will be totally destroyed, your hoses and cords will be a mangled mess a mile away after the hurricane has left.
Board Up Windows
I know this may sound like overkill however, I’ve seen several stationary RVers who can’t leave the campground.
While you can’t (and should NOT) just start pounding nails onto plywood into your RV to protect your RV windows, you can at least get some large collapsed shipping boxes and tape them securely overlapping your glass windows. This will help keep tree branches and limbs or projectiles breaking your windows.
Trust me, it will be much easier to remove tape residue from the outside of your RV than to replace expensive RV windows! Not that this will protect your windows completely, but it does add at least a small bit of protection from glass shattering; thus, allowing rain being driven to your RV interior.
1 HOUR PRIOR
Secure Television and WiFi Antennae and Satellite Dish
One thing that a lot of RV owners forget is to crank down their antennae. However, considering you’ll need them to stay tuned into local weather broadcasts and television stations, this will be one of the last things you’ll do before heading to the storm shelter. That said, if you have to remove anything from your roof, it’s best you do it before the wind starts to roll in.
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.
Bring in All Slides
You’ll want to bring in all of your slides to create more stability and less updraft under your slides that could have potential of flipping your RV over on its’ side. Also, this will help keep driving rain from seeping in through your slide seals and keep your awning toppers intact.
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 even your pets!
Final thoughts on How to Protect Your RV from Hurricane or Storm Damage
I hope all of these safeguarding tips help guide you to plan, prepare and protect your RV from hurricane damage. The point is to allow yourself enough time before the hurricane or severe storm arrives.
If you don’t know already, RVs are expensive to replace or repair and so is displacement. But, by taking care of these things will help minimize damage to your motorhome or camper so you can get back to enjoying your RV adventures. Your family will react on how you act. Make them a part of your storm preparation.
Be smart and be safe! Protect not only your RV from hurricane damage but most importantly yourself and your family. You surely can replace your RV or camper but not your spouse, sons or daughters.