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How to Prepare for Extreme Circumstances | Van Life Edition

Updated: Apr 13, 2023

It may seem all too obvious, but the best possible thing you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones while on the road is to simply prepare. Preparation can be the difference between surviving and, well… we don’t need to go there because you’re about to be a pro at facing whatever the road throws at you.


First things first. So you’ve planned your trip, but have you planned on what to do in case of an emergency? Let’s do that now. Write down:

  • Evacuation route(s) - both with your RV and without

  • Your emergency contacts - full names and phone numbers

  • Your roadside assistance and insurance information

  • Drivers license number and credit card information

  • Important numbers and locations for the area you’ll be in: tornado shelters, nearest hospital, etc.

The best way to avoid an emergency situation is to be fully informed on weather patterns and weather forecasts in your location. Investing in a NOAA-certified (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) weather radio is your best bet. Stay on top by checking extended forecasts and if severe weather is headed your way, make your move sooner rather than later. Remind yourself that being flexible with your travel plans is a part of RV life, and it allows you to stay safe.


Fill an emergency bag with water, nonperishable food items, any medications you may need and your written emergency plan(s). These are the crucial items. The rest of the items we are going to mention are optional and depend on your personal preference and situation. The following may be a huge help: flashlight or headlamp, first aid kit, whistle, pocket multi tool, rain poncho, a fully charged power bank for your electronics, cold weather gear, swimsuit (in extreme heat, a dampened suit is a great way to cool off).

An often overlooked part of true preparation is RV maintenance. Ensuring that all of your appliances, roof, insulation, tires and engine are in tip-top shape can avert many crises. Routine maintenance is required for the optimal health of your vehicle and reduces the chances of any accidents. There are websites out there like this one that help you keep track of your maintenance schedule for a small yearly fee.

When headed into a questionable situation, there are a few things to keep in mind. Assure you have adequate fuel levels; this may mean a full tank or back up fuel, as well. Empty gray and black water tanks and refill freshwater tank. Have all important electronics fully charged, as well as any backup chargers. Make sure you have a spare tire. Stock up with food and water.

Okay, now that we’re all prepped for our worst-case-scenarios, let’s dive into what you can do when faced with any of these extreme circumstances.

Extreme Heat / Loss of Air Conditioning

Park your RV in a shaded spot to dramatically reduce the negative impact of extreme heat. Open your windows at night when it cools down and close them as soon as it starts to warm up in the morning. Battery-powered fans might become your best friends. Fill spray bottles with water and mist yourself whenever you’re needing a quick cool-down. Spray your bedsheets before bed and have a fan blowing toward you. Remember that swimsuit we mentioned earlier? Wear a wet swimsuit around to help make yourself feel cooler. A wet bandana around the neck can be refreshing. The most important thing during extreme heat is to stay extra hydrated!

Extreme Cold / Loss of Heat

If you know you are going to an area where you may experience extreme cold, invest in a portable space heater. Where strong winds are not an issue, park your RV in a clear, open spot to soak up as much of that sunshine as you can. Where strong winds are an issue, seek shelter behind any large structure (building, hill, mountain) that blocks the wind. Keep a wool blanket, wool cap, wool socks and wool gloves nearby. Pick thick, plush rugs to cover the floors. Cover windows with reflective insulated panels (or anything you have that can act as insulation). Roll up a towel or blanket and place under any doorway to help keep cold air out. Place hot water bottles (add a dash of salt to the water to increase the length of time it stays warm), heat packs or heated stones inside the foot of your bed before bedtime to keep your feet toasty. The most important thing during extreme cold is to stay as dry as possible!

Natural Disasters

The best way to protect yourself from experiencing a natural disaster in your RV is to steer clear of them altogether. Use your NOAA-certified weather radio to make sure you’re in the know about potential natural disasters in your vicinity. In the case of any natural disaster, retract all awnings and slides and stow away all outdoor gear, if not for reducing accidents then for a quick getaway if you find the opportunity! If you find yourself in a potential flooding zone, move to higher ground. If you find yourself in a blizzard, make sure you have a shovel with you and/or traction boards and that your exhaust pipes are dug out of the snow. In cases of extreme wind, turn the nose of your RV into the wind to minimize damage and chances of tipping. Steer clear of any tree branches that could fall onto your RV. In case of a tornado, head to the nearest shelter (do not park under an overpass); if you don’t have the time, abandon ship and find the closest low-lying area to lay belly-down in with your hands over your head and wait for it to pass. Truly, the best plan is to always avoid these types of situations as best you can by doing your due diligence in checking the weather forecasts and changing travel plans accordingly.

Dead Battery

Let’s begin by reminding you not to attempt to jump start your battery with a small car or a small engine, use only a large truck or SUV.

Preventative measures include investing in a small generator and/or a portable jump starter, being conscious of your usage of lights and appliances, practicing regular driving and using shore power when possible. Once a battery dies, get it checked by a specialist to assure it’s safe as soon as possible. To reiterate what we talked about earlier, routine maintenance is very important before embarking on your next adventure!

What is the best way to avoid having to worry about facing these extreme circumstances? Why, to avoid them at all costs, of course. Utilize your weather tools and organize your routes around mother nature’s disasters. Be prepared, be flexible, be safe!


No matter where you decide to travel to, live your best life!

Please make sure you Leave No Trace to respect the wildlife and parks for years to come! Get outside and enjoy camping season! Happy exploring! 🚐

If you have any questions or just want to chat with the experts at Drifter, get in touch with our friendly team today! Contact us HERE!

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