How to Survive a Tornado when you’re RV-ing

how, outdoor, rv-ing, survive, tornado, when, you’re - 4 minutes to read


Morgan Rogue   11.01.21

This article will also apply to any type of vehicle, tent or anything else that isn’t secured to the ground in concrete.

When it comes to tornados, they can come out of nowhere fast and hard.

Let me tell you a little story about our experience with a tornado in an RV.

We were traveling full time in our 34′ Coachmen motorhome when we had decided to pull into a state park for the night. We were getting our water and sewer setup as the weather began to drastically change. High winds, dark skies, we were working quickly as we thought it was about to storm bad.

The moment we finished setting up, we stepped inside and we heard an alert come across our NOAA radio that there was a tornado watch. A tornado watch means there’s a tornado brewing or has been sighted in the nearby area. At this point, we grabbed out go-bag and knew we had to be on high alert in case we needed to get out. We already knew what to do in this scenario, we were prepared.

Suddenly, a park ranger comes rolling through yelling at everywhere to get into the bathrooms as the tornado was sighted a mere mile away. Husband and I grabbed the go-bag, dogs, kids and headed to the nearby concrete park bathrooms.

We stayed there for about 30 minutes with a bunch of other people. The tornado dissipated in the area it had formed, but it could have been a lot worse. It always could be.

Here’s how to be prepared for a tornado in an RV:

Have a NOAA weather radio

The weather radio really does come in handy to warn you about potential natural disasters. Sometimes, though, the NOAA weather radio won’t always tell you exactly what area or how far away. Sometimes it will, sometimes it won’t. It really depends. However, knowing that something is nearby should at least give you pause to stop what you’re doing, grab your bag and be ready.

Have a go-bag packed and ready to go

When it comes to an RV, tent, car, etc., you want to make sure you have at least one bag that is packed and ready to go with water, snacks, important documents, extra clothing, diapers and wipes if you have a baby and other basic items. This bag should always be ready to go and in an easily accessible spot. I always kept my bag hanging next to the bed.

Do not stay in the RV, tent or car

When it comes to a tornado, you do not ever want to be inside of the RV, car, tent or anything else that isn’t bolted down. A tornado will pick that up and spit it out without ever breaking a sweat. Head to the nearest building, preferably underground, but at the very least, inside of a building, away from windows and exterior walls. If you can’t get inside of a building, find the lowest spot possible such as a culvert or ditch and cover your head.

It’s true, even structures with concrete foundations have been torn apart by a direct hit from a tornado.

Underground is certainly the safest place to be. However, I would never advise you stay inside of your tent, RV or vehicle as you’re essentially in a death trap.

Prepare for aftermath

Tornados are destructive, there’s no doubt about that. Even if you’re safe, there may be extreme destruction all around you or nearby. Be prepared to hunker down at home in case roads are blocked, or general debris could be everywhere. Be prepared to help if you’re able, and be ready for any delays or to stay hunkered down for some time.

There could be some warning signs for a tornado approaching, but unless you’re actively watching for those signs, they could easily be missed, especially if you’re busy indoors. Keep a NOAA weather radio handy, a bag packed and take every precaution you can.

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