Staying Safe from Floods in your RV

No one wants to spend too much time thinking about “what-if” scenarios. But in many areas of the country, it’s monsoon season — which means that flood safety preparation is important.

There’s more to staying safe from heavy rains than investing in quality mud boots and packing an umbrella. In fact, when you’re traveling during the stormy time of year, you can find yourself in serious danger if you don’t make proper preparations.

But as long as you think ahead, you can stay safe and dry no matter where you’re headed. Here are some flood safety tips for RVers.

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Flood Safety Precautions

Always keep an eye on the weather. Obviously, the most ideal scenario is to avoid a flood altogether — and fortunately, your RV has wheels! So if heavy rains and possible flooding are projected in your area, go ahead and get out of there before they hit. Yes, it might be a change of plans or shift around your vacation, but you’ll thank yourself when you’re safe and dry and your RV isn’t literally floating.

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In case of a flash flood situation, exercise caution and obey basic flood safety rules. Serious flooding can pick up vehicles and carry them down the road-turned-stream — and RVs are no exception. (Seriously!) That’s why it’s so important to get out of the way of serious rains before they become flash flood scenarios. Flood preparation and safety is all about taking preventative measures, because once the deluge starts, there’s very little you can do about it.

In your flood preparedness plan, be sure to designate a specific nearby area of higher ground that you can get to in a jiffy if the weather starts looking like bad news. It’s a good idea to keep a paper road map or atlas around in case the power goes out and you can’t charge or access your digital navigation system. And once the rain starts, if you have to evacuate your RV, find a safe, dry place to hunker down. Being outside during a flash flood is incredibly dangerous, and can even be fatal — flood waters of only six inches’ depth can knock people over, and can contain hidden hazards like downed power lines and even poisonous snakes!

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Flood Driving Safety Tips

When it comes to RV driving, the most basic of flood safety procedures is simple: Don’t do it. 

Driving in wet conditions is already dangerous enough; the roads can become slippery, and your tires might slide. Your brakes can become wet and stop working. All of that’s already a hazard in a normal-sized car, but with the weight of an RV behind you, you can quickly find yourself in serious trouble — especially if you’re pulling a tow vehicle. Your trailer can literally push your vehicle around, leaving you completely out of control.

If you find yourself in a flash flood in your RV, it might make more sense to evacuate to safety on foot rather than trying to drive away. In a developed campground, you might head to the camp store or check-in lobby, for instance.

Flood Survival Kit

No matter where you’re traveling or what the weather is supposed to be like, it’s critical to keep certain emergency items on your RV at all times just in case something happens. We’ve written a whole post about emergency gear no RVer should ever leave home without, but here’s a highlight of some of the most important goods and equipment:

  • Emergency food rations and extra potable water. This is especially important in a flood scenario since water lines can burst and water supplies can become contaminated. You may end up needing to boil all tap water for several weeks, and in an RV kitchen, that might not be possible — so having potable water available can be a literal lifesaver. Foldable water jugs filled ahead of time are the best way to keep extra potable water on board your rig, and they condense nicely for easy storage when you’re not using them. Plus, they’re pretty cheap!
  • Emergency triangles or road flaresIf you find yourself stuck on the side of the road, you want to be sure other drivers can see you — especially in a heavy rain situation. Emergency triangles and road flares make you more visible, which can help you avoid accidents and also flag down help when you need it.
  • A waterproof bag including important documents. If you lose everything, you don’t want to have to worry about replacing your RV’s title, let alone birth certificates and passports. Keep them all in a waterproof (and, for added bonus, fireproof) bag so you can grab them quickly if you need to evacuate. Include this in your easily-grabbable “go bag” along with extra clothes, water bottles, insect repellent and other items you might need in an evacuation scenario.

After Flood Safety

You should also consider what happens after the deluge in your flood safety plan. For example, if you had to evacuate your RV, when is it safe to return and find it? When can you get back on the road if you took your rig to higher ground?

To stay safe, keep it simple: if there’s water pooled on the road, it’s not a good idea to drive far distances. If you have to move your rig a mile or two in those conditions, proceed with caution… but in general, avoid driving entirely until the roads are basically dry and no more rain is forecasted. It’s way better to be safe than sorry.

The same goes for venturing back to your rig if you evacuated on foot or with your towed vehicle. You may be anxious to see how much damage your beloved RV sustained, but until the rain totally clears up, there’s nothing you can do about it anyway — so wait until it’s safe and clear to go on your investigation.

Floods are scary, but they’re also easily avoided so long as you pay attention to the weather forecast and avoid highly rainy areas during the heaviest downpour season. Heeding that advice might keep you away from your favorite destinations for a while… but once you do go in the dry season, you’ll see all the lush greenery brought around by those downpours, and stay safe in the process.

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