Truck Camper Hurricane Preparedness
- October 27, 2012
- - By Gordon White
Whether you’re going to hunker down or evacuate, here’s what you need to do to prepare your truck and camper for an approaching hurricane. ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...
General Hurricane Warnings
For this article, we are assuming that you have already or will be following local evacuation warnings. This is critical if you’re potentially in the path of the hurricane or in a coastal area that could be affected by storm surge flooding.
Do not attempt to ride out a hurricane in a truck camper. While truck campers with four wheel drive are well suited for pre-storm evacuation and after-storm shelter, they are not designed to withstand the direct impact of a hurricane.
If you live outside of the evacuation area, and don’t reside in a mobile home or other un-sound structure, stay home. If you live within the evacuation area, stay with friends or relatives outside the evacuation area or go to the nearest shelter outside of evacuation area. For more general information about how to prepare for a hurricane, be sure to follow FEMA’s recommendations: http://www.fema.gov/hazard/hurricane/hu_during.shtm.
Truck Camper as Family Emergency Vehicle
In December of 2008, we published, “The Truck Camper as a Family Emergency Vehicle (FEV)”. The article detailed how a truck camper can be used as a Family Emergency Vehicle and gives examples of situations when a FEV would be necessary and possibly life saving, including a hurricane. If you haven’t already read that article, please read it as part of your hurricane preparations with a truck camper.
Truck Camper Hurricane Preparedness
The primary concerns from a hurricane are storm surge flooding, driving rain and rain sourced flooding, damaging high winds, and the potential for tornadoes. Again, we want to state that truck campers are not designed to withstand these powerful forces of nature and shelter needs to be found in a solid and permanent structure during a hurricane.
Once suitable shelter has been found, truck camper owners need to secure their truck and camper before the storm and make preparations should the storm affect the availability of power, water, food, and other resources. Plans should also be made for further evacuation if the hurricane changes course.
Before the Hurricane
If your truck and camper are separated, load your truck camper onto your truck before the wind from the hurricane approaches. Loading a truck camper in high winds would not only be difficult, but potentially dangerous.
Once loaded, install your turnbuckles and check that they are properly tensioned. Then lower your camper jacks to the ground for stability. If you have electric remote controlled jacks, put the remote in the truck so you can quickly raise the jacks should you need to evacuate. If you have manual jacks, keep a charged battery powered drill in your truck with the proper jack attachment.
Make sure all camper windows and vents are firmly closed. Check the roof to make sure that your television antenna is down and that anything loose is properly secured. If there are any removable items on your camper, remove them and place them inside the camper or your permanent residence. These items could include bikes, lawn chairs, fishing rods, or anything else high winds could turn into projectiles.
Speaking of projectiles, look around your camper and see if there are any trees or tree limbs that could succumb to the approaching high winds and damage your camper. If possible, move the camper away from those trees. Secure any other nearly outdoor objects such as lawn furniture, grills, or children's toys that could again become projectiles and damage your camper. Those items should be brought inside a permanent structure.
Fill your truck’s fuel tank with fuel. If you’re near an RV dump, dump your grey and black holding tanks. If you’re low on holding tank chemicals or RV toilet paper, now would be a good time to stock up on those items.
Check the level of your camper propane tanks and fill them if necessary. Test all of your propane systems including your stove, heater, hot water heater, and refrigerator. Once your propane tanks are full and you’ve tested your systems, shut off the camper propane before the storm. Should the camper structure be compromised during the hurricane, you don’t want the propane to be on potentially causing a much more serious situation.
Fill your truck camper’s fresh water tank. Not only will this provide many gallons of fresh water, but it will also add mass to the camper and lower the center of gravity of the camper should high winds become an issue.
If the camper hasn’t been used in a while, flush your fresh water system before you fill the fresh water tank. Other critical things to check if your camper hasn’t been used in a while are the heater, water pump, refrigerator, fan vents, and lights. While you’re at it, test your fire extinguisher, smoke detector, carbon monoxide detector, and propane gas detector as well.
The likelihood of a long term power outage after a hurricane or strong wind event is high. If your truck camper is equipped with a generator, test the generator and perform any necessary repairs or maintenance immediately. If you use a portable generator like a Honda eu2000i, make sure you have gasoline for the generator.
If you leave your camper plugged in, we recommend that you unplug your camper during the storm. One lightning strike could send a surge of electricity through your camper and damage your camper electrical systems just when you need them the most.
Once all of those items have been checked, it’s time to stock up on food, bottled water, and flashlights. Don’t forget a battery powered radio and some basic tools.
If you haven’t measured your rig’s exterior height, now would be a good time to take a measuring tape to the camper. After a hurricane, you may not be able to use your normal travel routes and could face a low clearance overpass.
One More Emergency Tip
Once your truck and camper is loaded and ready to go, take a minute to photograph the truck and camper inside and out. That way you have current photographs for the insurance adjustors if the truck or camper is damaged during the storm.
Your Truck Camper Storm Stories Wanted
If you have hurricane preparation advice that should be added to this article, please send it in and we’ll add it to this story.
If you have used your truck camper as a Family Emergency Vehicle, or are using your truck camper to evacuate, we want to hear your stories. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay safe everyone.