Hurricanes can take down buildings, so think what it can do to your RV! Here's how to prepare and protect your RV from hurricanes…
With all the news of hurricanes hitting Florida, California(?!), and even skirting Maine, we figured it was past due that we write an article about RV hurricane preparedness.
The safest practice is, of course, to drive your RV away from an oncoming hurricane. However, that's not always possible.
So, whether you live and store an RV in a hurricane region or you plan to camp within the “wet zone,” here's what you need to know. The following is how to prepare and protect your RV during hurricane season.
Hey, if you buy something through my links, I might get a little something-something as a thank you. No extra cost to you, promise! Read our full affiliate disclosure here.
1. Leave Your RV Behind If Necessary
Your safety should always be the top priority during a hurricane. If hurricane warnings are severe, we recommend leaving the area as soon as possible, especially since you have the luxury of driving your home away from the looming storm.
But if something happens and you can't take your RV with you for some reason, leave it! Drive your toad (towed vehicle), hitch a ride, or do whatever you need to get yourself to a secure location.
2. Check RV Insurance Coverage
Before hurricane season hits, review your RV insurance policy to ensure it provides adequate coverage for potential storm damages. Consider discussing your policy with an insurance agent to address any gaps in coverage.
It's much better to explore options for additional protection against hurricane-related risks BEFORE a hurricane hits. Here are some tips for buying RV insurance.
3. Check All Seals
Inspect and reinforce all seals on your RV, including around windows, doors, roof vents, and slide-outs. Damaged or loose seals can allow water to penetrate your RV during heavy rain and wind.
Repair any faulty seals promptly to prevent water damage. You can Try These 7 RV Sealants & Caulks.
4. Secure All Breakables
In preparation for strong winds that can cause your RV to rock, secure all breakable items inside. Use non-slip drawer liners, fasten cabinets securely, and consider storing fragile objects in padded containers.
Minimizing the movement of items within the RV can help prevent breakage. Here's How To Store Glassware in an RV.
5. Remove or Protect All Important Documents
Seal important documents, such as insurance papers, identification, and RV ownership documents, in waterproof bags or containers. Consider making digital copies of these documents as an additional precaution.
Store them in a secured location within the RV or, better yet, take them with you. If your RV is destroyed in the hurricane, you don't want to sift through the debris to find your insurance documents!
You may wish to invest in a Portable Travel Safe for RVers.
6. Move the RV to a More Secure Area, If Possible
If you're unable to evacuate with your RV, try to find a secure location to park it. Look for an enclosed storage facility or park it next to a building or wall.
When parking next to a wall or building, make sure it's on the opposite side from where the wind is coming. This placement offers some protection against the wind's force.
If a secure location is not available, try to find high ground away from water sources (i.e. river, lake, ocean) that's not surrounded by trees. Rising water from water sources is just as problematic as ocean water being blown in.
Also follow the next tip…
7. Point Side with Fewest Windows Toward Exposure
Position your RV so that the side with the fewest windows faces the direction from which the wind is blowing. By doing so, you reduce the risk of windows breaking from flying debris and help minimize potential damage.
Or, if you're parking against a wall (on the opposite side of the wind), park the side of your RV with the most windows against the wall.
8. Remove Potential Projectiles From the Area
If it's safe to do so, clear your surroundings of any loose branches, outdoor furniture, or other items that could become airborne during strong winds. These can pose dangers to your RV.
Wind by itself doesn't cause much damage. But wind with debris causes most of the catastrophic damage you see in the aftermath of a hurricane.
So, clear the area and secure any items as much as is safely possible. Remember, even heavy items like BBQ grills can be lifted by strong winds.
9. Close Slides & Storage Compartments
Before the hurricane arrives, retract and secure all slide-outs and storage compartments. This prevents water, wind, and debris from entering these areas and causing damage.
And secure them tightly!
Even a small gap left open in your slideouts is enough to welcome terrible damage. And an unlocked storage compartment can get blown open more easily.
10. Close & Secure Awning
Close and tightly secure your RV awning to prevent it from being damaged or torn off by strong winds. For added protection, consider investing in an RV awning cover.
An RV awning cover will help protect the material from damage. Plus, you can use it whenever your RV is in storage. It'll help protect from UV rays as much as from a storm.
By the way, you'll want to know how to clean your awning after the storm:
11. Fill Fuel Tank
If you hear a storm warning, one of the first things you need to do is fill up your gas tank. For one, you'll be ready to drive away if the storm warning worsens.
For two, fuel becomes a precious commodity after a storm. You may not be able to find any nearby for weeks in the aftermath.
For three, it will help weigh down your RV, which we'll get into more next…
12. Fill Freshwater Tank
You should fill your freshwater tan before a storm for two reasons. The first is to store up freshwater that you or your neighbors may need during or after the storm.
The second is to add weight to improve stability during the storm. If feasible, empty other holding tanks and refill them with fresh water to help weight down your RV even more.
Do not drink the water from other holding tanks, though! And properly empty the tanks afterward.
13. Stock RV Pantry
Ensure your RV pantry is well-stocked with non-perishable food, ample water supplies, and essential items to sustain you during and after the hurricane. Aim to have enough provisions to last at least three days.
We recommend this precaution even if you might leave your RV behind. If anything, you'll have some provisions when you return, or your neighbors will have emergency provisions if need be.
It can take MONTHS for fresh water and food to be readily available after a serious hurricane. So, it's best to make provisions, accounting for the aftermath as well as the storm.
14. Turn Off Propane
For obvious safety reasons, shut off the propane supply to your RV. This preventive measure reduces the risk of gas leaks and potential fire hazards during the storm, not to mention an explosion.
You should also cover the regulator to help protect it from potential damage.
After the storm, be sure to check your propane tanks for leaks and make sure your CO detector is working! You don't want to survive the storm only to die from CO poisoning!
While you're at it, check all your life safety detectors!
- 3 Life Safety Detectors You NEED in Your RV
- 11 Critical Tips on How to Detect Carbon Monoxide in Your RV
15. Cover Vents and A/C Unit
Use vent covers or specialized vent cushions to protect your roof vents from water intrusion. Additionally, cover your RV's air conditioning unit to prevent potential damage caused by flying debris.
Essentially, you want to cover every access point where water can infiltrate your RV.
Water damage is just as bad or worse as damage from striking debris. It's just as costly to repair, wreaking havoc on your finishes and electrical system. It increases the risk of fire, and hidden mold is a real risk to RVers.
16. Cover RV Windows
Protecting your RV windows can be challenging, especially if you don't want to screw plywood into your RV walls. Those screw holes are just more ways for water to leak in down the road (literally & figuratively).
One option is to strap plywood over your windows by latching to secure points on top of and under your RV. Or to strap all around your RV, like a belt.
Just note that the straps can cause damage to your RV, especially when vibrating in the wind. So, be sure to place padding underneath all strap pressure points.
Another option is to secure boards and heavy plastic inside your windows. This will not protect your windows, but it will help protect everything inside if a window should break.
A third, less effective but better-than-nothing option is to duct tape folded tarps or padding over your windows. This will at least protect them against smaller flying debris. You can use these sap-removal tricks to get the adhesive off after the storm.
17. Cover Your RV
Now that everything is secure, cover your RV with an RV cover or tarp. This will help protect your RV from superficial damage from small flying debris.
It'll also help waterproof it. Any protective cover is better than nothing, especially if you can't store it in a covered location.
18. Avoid Driving Through Water
If you must drive your RV, do not attempt to drive your RV through floodwaters! Even a small amount of flowing water can carry your RV away. Yes, even your heavy RV.
Or, it can leave you stranded in the middle of the water, making it difficult for rescue services to get to you. You don't want to end up waving your arms at the news helicopter from the top of your RV. Or worse, drown inside a flooded vehicle.
Try to find an alternate route, and consider whether you need to abandon your RV to find safety for yourself and your travel companions.
19. Follow Evacuation Orders
It's vital to stay informed about evacuation orders issued by local authorities. Always follow their instructions promptly, as they prioritize your safety.
Remember that evacuating to a safe location before the hurricane hits is the best course of action. Some high winds may precede the storm, so you should brush up on these 5 Tips on Driving an RV in heavy winds.
We also highly recommend investing in one of the 5 Best Survival Radios for Emergencies.
20. Don't Let It Scare You
We always like to reiterate that articles like this aren't meant to scare you. They're meant to prepare you so you don't have to be scared!
RVing is an amazing way to travel, and though it comes with risks, it's worth it! So, don't let storms scare you away from your RV dream!
How to Drive RV in Heavy Winds
Driving an RV in heavy winds can be quite a challenge. Here's a first-hand story and some advice for all RVwers encountering windy road conditions.
I should have listened to the heavy wind warnings when we set off on one of our RV trips a while back with weather forecasters talking about a wind advisory and breezy conditions coming in hard with a cold front, I barely paid attention.
The RV was packed, we had places to go and so …. we did, heading straight down I-75 from our Michigan home.
I could tell it was windy as soon as I pulled out of my subdivision. But as we negotiated the heavy traffic through Detroit, the “concrete canyons” nulled the effect and it wasn't until, just north of the Ohio border near Monroe, MI, that it became apparent that the weather guys had this one right.
The heavy winds were hitting our RV… keep reading…
When Bad Weather Strikes!
When camping or driving along in your RV, a sudden change in the weather can mean more damage than you think. We share our tips and viewer suggestions in the video below.
Like what you see in these videos? We'd appreciate it if you would Subscribe to our YouTube Channel (easy to do right here) and consider “ringing the bell icon” to be notified of any new video from us. 🙂 Thanks!
Mike and Jennifer's Favorite Places in Florida – all 3 ebooks!
We RVers may wander far and wide but it’s true for most of us that we end up with some favorite “Go-To” places – places that draw us back again and again.
Florida is one of those places for us. And we know it is for many RVers looking to get away and explore during the winter.
That's why we've created three guides, covering Florida's Atlantic Coast, the Gulf Coast, and the Keys.
Each of these guides is a seven-day guided exploration of one of the coasts. And each stop is a curated view of the best things that we’ve enjoyed on this trip and want you to experience.
Altogether these guides are over 300 pages of content!
FAQ's about Florida Gulf Coast beaches of interest to RVers
What is the weather like along Florida's Gulf Coast?
The weather along Florida's Gulf Coast can vary depending on the time of year and the specific location. In general, the area experiences hot, humid summers and mild, pleasant winters.
The Panhandle region can be quite cool in January. It is seldom below freezing, but daytime highs are typically in the 50s. It warms up about 10 degrees each month.
You can also generally add about 10 degrees for every 150 miles you travel south down the Florida peninsula.
By the time you hit Naples, daytime highs in January are in the comfortable 70s.
Are there any websites that can help me get a reservation for a Florida beach campground?
One of the best resources we can recommend is called Campnab. This service monitors parks for cancelations and sends you an alert when an opening matches your criteria. That said, it isn’t magic. The app doesn’t create availabilities.
The service works – but it is not free.
Campnab offers two ways to use the service. The first is individual pay-per-use scans. These watch for vacancies at a specific park for a specific date. These work well if you know exactly when and where you intend to camp. Pay-per-use scans cost $10 – $20, depending on how frequently you want them to check availability.
The second way to use the service is through a membership. These typically run monthly and are tailored to those who camp more frequently or are looking to maximize their chance of finding a site. Membership allows you to scan multiple parks and/or dates simultaneously. With memberships, you pay a monthly recurring fee ($10, $20, $30, or $50), depending on your needs.
Are there places in Florida where you can literally camp on the beach for free?
Not many. And they are very pricey. If you want to sleep directly on the sand in an RV, you'll have to stay at a developed commercial campground like Camp Gulf on the Emerald Coast or an RV resort like Big Pine Key Resort in the keys. Some state parks like the Gamble Rogers State Memorial Recreation Area in the Atlantic Coast or Bahia Honda State Park in the keys or Fort Desto State Park near St. Petersburg have beachside sites, too.
But are there free, unrestricted RV beach camping spots in Florida?
Sorry, none that I know of that would work for RVs.
There is unrestricted camping on wild beaches on a couple of islands, but you need a boat to get there, and it is for tent camping only. If you want to sleep directly on the sand, there is Anclote Key offshore Tarpon Springs, and Shell Key in Pinellas County. Another favorite is Keewaydin Island between Naples and Marco Island but that area remains pretty devasted from Hurricane Ian.
Did Hurricane Ian destroy many beach campgrounds on the Gulf Coast?
While it severely damaged almost two dozen RV parks and campgrounds, about 8-10 campgrounds in the Naples-Ft. Myers area were completely destroyed. Most of the damaged campgrounds have been repaired and reopened.
Check with the Florida Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds if you have questions or concerns.
We recommend Hollywood Racks for your RV Lifestyle…
The RV Rider bike rack for RV's, motorhomes, and fifth wheels carries 2 E-Bikes (up to 80 lbs. each) on the back of an RV Motorhome, a 5th wheel, or a flat towed vehicle. A 2″ hitch is required for this rack. Special features include universal heavy-duty wheel holders for heavy load carrying capacity. These wheel holders can fit any tire up to 5″ wide and include a ratchet wheel strap. Locking frame grabbers secure the bikes in place. This bike rack is not compatible with bumper pull, travel trailers or bumper mounted hitch receivers. Enter the promo code RVLIFESTYLE to save 10%
If you want to look at everything they offer, not just the RV Rider rack — go here and explore all the options!