Be prepared – and observant – when winter camping

A lot of you are winter campers, either as fulltimers or fair weather weekenders. But as you also know, there can be hidden or unknown dangers lurking in campgrounds that have been battered by not only the current season’s weather but also by the drought that has hit much of the country, damaging trees’ root systems, caved in banks of streams, and whatever other mayhem has been thrown our way.

You can minimize, or even prevent minor to major catastrophes when entering campgrounds by being extra observant and spotting problems with these tips before they happen.

  • Look around you for dead or dying trees and limbs overhead that look like they could fall due to the damaging effects of the drought. If any such trees tower over or lean into your intended campsite, you might want to choose another. Strong winds could bring them crashing down on top of your RV.
  • Avoid sites close to the banks of a river, stream, or – if in the desert – normally dry arroyos and creek beds. These could overflow in heavy rain causing dangerous flash flood conditions.
  • Look for high banks beside roads or recently burned over areas that could result in mud slides during heavy rain that could block entrances and exits from campgrounds. Stay away from campsites near steep banks that could be inundated by a mud or rock slide or could block a single entrance to your campsite leaving no escape route.
  • Campsites in low areas or depressions could also flood just from rain runoff collecting in the lowest spot.
  • Blocked or washed out roads could prevent you from leaving your campground even after the storm conditions pass by. (My wife and I were stranded for five days on the Big Sur coast when mud and rock slides blocked the highway in both directions during the El Niño of 1997-1998). Make sure there are alternative exit routes.
  • Fill your larder with enough emergency supplies and food to last for several days if you do get stuck – especially drinking water and prescriptions. Likewise, your propane and water tanks should be full before you hit the road. A propane heater would be nice if you were stranded without electricity, as well as a shovel (to dig your rig out if necessary). A first aid kit should already be part of your emergency supplies.
  • A battery-operated charger and extra batteries will keep your cell phone charged. Texting may be your only means of communication with the outside world (often, texts will send when email and phone calls will not).

No one can always predict the weather, especially localized conditions, so it makes sense to be prepared. And if you are, you just may feel safe enough to enjoy being snug in your RV while Mother Nature throws a tantrum outside.

You can find Bob Difley’s RVing ebooks on Amazon Kindle.

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