How to Prepare for Inclement Weather While RVing

Bibi Barringer packs up a camp chair and patio furniture into her KZ Durango fifth wheel.

In our five years of RV travel, we've encountered a diverse spectrum of weather conditions—including the occasional bout of inclement weather.

From downpours to high winds to freezing temperatures and extreme heat, these situations can initially seem intimidating. However, with a little preparation and a shift in perspective, I've found that it's not only possible to weather the storm but to even find enjoyment in it.

RV Tips and Strategies to Prepare for Inclement Weather

  1. Secure Your Campsite

    Our first step is to secure everything outside the RV that could become airborne or damaged by the elements. Camping chairs, toys, and even the area rug get tucked away for safekeeping.

    While I cherish the coziness and protection an awning offers during light rain, knowing it's safely rolled in brings peace of mind when bad weather is headed our way. So no matter what, the awnings are usually the first things to come in to be protected from the weather.  It is also recommended that you always bring your awning in before leaving your campsite for the day, just in case you have unexpected high winds or inclement weather. 

    Bibi Barringer packs up a camp chair and patio furniture into her KZ Durango fifth wheel.

  2. Check Your Propane

    When periods of freezing temperatures or high winds are in the forecast, we prioritize checking and, if necessary, refilling our propane tanks.

    Since our generator runs on propane, having full tanks ensures a functioning stove to prepare or reheat food and water. It is also needed for warmth during cold spells. The built-in electric fireplace helps keep the inside of the fifth wheel warm while the propane helps keep the floor and underbelly storage warm so the water pipes won’t freeze.

    While you’re checking on your propane, be sure to check your drinking water stock, as well. We like to have enough to get us through a day or two if needed.

    JC Barringer checks the propane tank levels of his KZ Durango fifth wheel.

  3. Prepare Emergency Bags

    When sudden high winds or, on the rare occasion, tornadoes become possible, I have an emergency preparedness plan that we go by.

    Each of our older children carries a designated hiking backpack that is stocked with snacks, water bottles, a first-aid kit, and a few small toys for entertainment during unexpected evacuations. My bag holds essential documents. All of these are either placed by the door to grab when we go out, or I already set them in the truck until the weather recovers. 

    Easy-to-slip-on shoes are kept by the door, a precaution more for convenience than a necessity, as our priority in a real emergency would be a fast evacuation and heading to the bathhouse or somewhere else where it is safe.

    If you are traveling during a season or to an area where inclement weather is likely, be sure to talk through your evacuation plan before arriving. Also, use rangers or campground hosts as a resource to locate safe shelter places within a park or campground.

    An emergency bag sitting on the kitchen countertop of JC and Bibi Barringer's KZ Durango fifth wheel.

  4. Utilize Calming Habits

    Now this one is more of a personal choice, but I found that cooking ahead of time becomes a personal ritual whenever we anticipate inclement weather. It helps me calm my nerves during the pre-storm hype. So when extreme weather is heading our way, after everything is finished—our campsite is cleaned up, the bags are packed, water filled up—you can oftentimes find me in the kitchen 

    Cooking ahead also allows me to spend less time in the kitchen during the storm and more time snuggling up with my kids, enjoying movies, reading books, or simply relishing family time together. I usually prepare comfort food that everyone likes, bringing a sense of warmth and security during challenging weather conditions.

    And there is just something so wonderfully comforting when you get to eat a warm stew with a good book, while the rain is drumming on the RV roof. It’s the next best thing to spending time outdoors.

    Bibi Barringer prepares potatoes in the kitchen of her KZ Durango fifth wheel.

  5. Know When To Pack Up

    Last but not least… Safety remains crucial, regardless of the weather or your preparations. If I ever feel unsafe at our location, my husband and I discuss our situation and determine our game plan.

    This may involve packing up our belongings, filling the tanks for extra stability, and even relocating the fifth wheel away from trees. Hotels or heading to nearby family can provide a temporary safe stay for both high winds and freezing temperatures.

    Our guiding principle is that the RV, while it holds countless memories, is replaceable. If a situation requires immediate evacuation, we prioritize our safety and leave everything behind, as would we in a home.

    Embracing this mindset allows me to approach inclement weather with a sense of calmness and preparedness. By now, I am able to transform it from a burden into an opportunity for family bonding, resilience, and even adventure.

    Shoes and emergency bags sit near the door inside JC and Bibi Barringer's KZ Durango fifth wheel.

Fifth Wheel RVs

Popular among long-term RVers, fifth wheels are designed for easier, more stable towing. Living space is maximized with additional over-cab space. This camping trailer—affectionately nicknamed a "fiver"—is a favorite of many, especially those taking extended trips or traveling long-term in their RV. The prominent overhang resting above the tow truck bed is frequently employed as a bedroom suite, a living room, even a kitchen.

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