Several months ago a campground we usually stay at in Texas had river flooding. The sheriff came through and told folks that the river was quickly on the rise and they had to evacuate within the hour. What our friend told us still gives me chills… but basically it was as horrible as one could imagine and one man died trying to hook-up his rig before the water came.
That could have easily been us – any of us -whether you are a weekend camper, seasonal camper or a Full-Timer. After the initial shock of the news, we had a serious discussion of what we would do in a similar situation.
After some brain-storming, we made two scenarios. The first one being a “Grab and Go situation” where we have to evacuate with our tow and abandon the RV and the other being an emergency “rig evacuation” situation.
The first thing we did with each situation is make detailed lists. The lists have been printed out and I have laminated them and placed them on a metal ring. This way no matter how tense of situation (I certainly don’t promise to keep a level head in an emergency!) we know exactly what we are going to do and will not forget anything.
GRAB AND GO SITUATION
Our thought on a Grab and Go situation was that we would be able to pack our pickup truck with enough items to actually live out of the truck if we needed. Items like tarp and tape could make us a shelter either on the back of the truck or from the sides of the truck. Disaster involves everyone in an area and we would not want to completely rely on outside assistance or resources.
(This is just general information from the list as ours is rather specific/detailed. You can make yours as customize yours for your own needs.)
Gather these items first and make sure they are loaded in the tow vehicle:
Files/Important Documents/Safety or Lock Boxes
Medication (and health-related items, such as diabetic supplies, cane, eyeglasses, neck supports, etc…)
Laptop Computer /Cords / Flash Drives
Food Kit* (and extra from pantry if time)
Bottled Water / Sodas / Juices
Flashlights / Batteries
Camp Stove / Propane/ Cooking Kit
Bedding / Blankets / Pillows
Tarps / Masking or Duct Tape
Heavy Duty Raincoat / Boots (if needed in the situation)
* We have experienced winter storms, hurricanes and wildfires while being Full-Timers. So we actually have a food kit, med kit and clothes kit made up at all times. Our 3 kits actually consist of 2 medium totes. One is devoted to food supplies and the other is filled with medical and hygiene supplies and clothes. The clothes items (for 3 days) are stored inside the tote in Space Bags® (which I recommend to all Full-Timers) to save space and keep them weather-proof. I recommend travel-size items (such as toothpaste) in your kits to save space. Twice a year we remove our items to use and replace them with new items. We joke it’s time to “eat our rations”.
Prep camper second if there is adequate time:
(If the situation is hopeless and you know you will not be able to return to your camper or there won’t be anything left to salvage, such as a flood, then we plan to skip this and quickly evacuate)
Slides in (even if you have to skip securing items to get them)
Awning up (if down)
TV Antenna up (if down) or Satellite Dish (put away)
Propane values shut-off (don’t worry about a little food in the refrigerator – not worth it!)
Unplugged and unhooked outside (electric, sewer, cable)
Outside compartments locked
Outside stuff of value placed inside (if some type of storm, secure all outside items if adequate time)
RIG EVACUATION SITUATION
Our thought on a Rig Evacuation situation was that we would be able to hook-up our rig and leave in a short period of time; however, we wanted to ensure our “Grab and Go” items were packed in the truck in case there was a problem and we needed to unhook rapidly later in the evacuation (such as a blocked road or a structural/mechanical problem).
We would first gather items from the Grab and Go list and make sure they are loaded in the tow vehicle. Then we would prep the camper as we normally would, unless there was not adequate time. If time was limited, we would not worry about how items were packed in the cupboards (like wrapped dishes, etc.) If the situation was extremely urgent, once our slides were in we would just reinforce our cupboard pulls with duct tape (we’d worry about the mess later!) and loose items would be placed on the beds or sofa.
We figured that in an extreme situation, we could be out with our rig in thirty minutes. A rather frantic thirty minutes, but with the list and pre-made kits, we could do it.
It took us awhile to think about this and I can’t imagine trying to think about what to do and take in a hurried situation! I recommend anyone who may find themselves in an evacuation situation to take at least a few minutes with your family / traveling companions to think about what you would do. Those extra minutes could possible save a life.