Let’s face it – tornados, hail, and lightening can be scary even if you are in a stable structure. Encountering them on the road can be downright terrifying!
But there are definitely things you can do to keep yourself safer when on the road.
First and foremost, try to avoid driving in severe weather whenever possible! Watch the weather forecast for where you are, where you are headed, and several cities between those two points in order to gauge the best days to travel. Once you are on the road, consider using a weather radio, CB or Ham radio (truckers and local residents can be infinitely helpful in spotting weather ahead of you that you may need to avoid!), or a radar app for your smart phone or tablet. Keeping an eye on what’s coming is the best way to avoid trouble.
If you are in the habit of watching the skies while driving, but aren’t sure how to make the educated decision on whether or not you need to stop, consider taking a weather spotter class. You can learn more about weather spotting, including volunteer opportunities, at the National Weather Service’s website: http://www.nws.noaa.gov/training/wxspot.php.
If you do find yourself in severe weather, use these tips to help avoid serious injury and damage:
- Park your vehicle “head into the wind???. RVs are designed to take on wind head first – think about the speed you travel down the highway. Parking your vehicle so that the side of the vehicle is taking on the wind is more likely to result in your vehicle tipping. Even if it means you have to park awkwardly in a grassy area, it will be easier to get your RV out of the mud, than to get it turned over.
- If you see a tornado or funnel cloud, move at right angles away from the cloud. Never try to out run a tornado, or pass under a funnel cloud. These weather systems are extremely unpredictable, and moving away from them is the only safe option.
- If you are in the path of a tornado or funnel cloud, and have no option of getting away, it is safer outside of your vehicle than inside your vehicle. Whenever possible, go to a sturdy structure and take cover away from windows. If it is not possible to get into a sturdy structure, go to a low area – the more it looks like a hole in the ground, the better! Stay away from vehicles and small structures that are likely to roll. Stay away from trees and small items that can easily become debris. If you have bike or other helmets in your RV, wear them for extra protection. Lay face down on the ground, and use your arms to protect the back of your head.
After a severe storm passes, be sure to assess the area around your RV before going in or out. In particular, look for: damage to the vehicle that may make it unsafe or unstable; unstable ground including mud, washed out dirt and gravel, and quick running water that could cause problems over time; and downed or broken electrical lines – especially if there is standing or running water nearby.
For more tips and resources, visit the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Storm Prediction Center website at: http://www.spc.noaa.gov/faq/tornado/safety.html.