MAIN Travel Camping
Anytime of Year
And in All Kinds of Weather
thought to be reserved for summer, camping is fast becoming a
year-round activity. And while camping trips are planned
with hopes of good weather, severe weather always is a possibility,
but it doesn’t have to diminish the enjoyment of camping. To make
the most of camping safety tips, it’s important to consider the
weather before packing up the camper or travel trailer.
There’s no avoiding the weather when camping. “The United States
has the most extreme weather conditions in the world, second only
to China,” says Susan Weaver, of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration (NOAA) National Weather Service. “Weather can change
quickly and is very specific to each area.”
Lightning Does Strike Twice
Severe weather can occur anytime of year and often with little
warning. According to NOAA, lightning is one of the most underrated severe weather hazards because it
usually claims one or two victims at a time and does not cause
are in danger of lightning if you can hear thunder,” states Weaver.
“Seek shelter inside an enclosed structure; if that is not possible
squat low to the ground, with your feet close together and your
head between your knees.” Maintain minimal contact with the ground
and do not lie flat.
It’s a Twister…
In the Southern U.S. states, peak tornado season is March through May. Northern states are more likely
to be hit with tornadoes during the summer. People know that during
a tornado warning they should move to an interior room with no
windows, or in a basement. When camping, that’s not a viable option.
Experts suggest retreating to a ditch or other low area, get as
low to the ground as possible and cover your head from possible
debris. “Do not seek shelter under an overpass; they act as wind
tunnels during a tornado,” Weaver warns.
Author Brad Herzog and wife Amy of Pacific Grove, Calif., have
been camping for nearly eight years. During their first trip,
Brad authored “States of Mind,” a book, which chronicles their
experience. One night, while camping in Mississippi, they encountered
severe weather. “There were late-night tornado warnings and we
were able to track the warnings by keeping tuned to a local station,”
Herzog explains. They were aware of the warnings in advance and
took precautions in case of a tornado strike. Fortunately the
storm passed without any tornadoes touching down.
Rain, Rain Go Away
Floods and flash floods also are serious threats to campers. “Most
people underestimate the threat of water,” Weaver explains. “Never
attempt to drive through standing water. It only takes 18 to 24
inches to float most vehicles.” According to Weaver, canyons are
particularly prone to flash floods. She recommends not only paying
attention to the weather around you but also upstream. If flooding
is a possibility in your camp area, immediately move to higher
Tips for Campers
Make camp before dark. Traveling after darkness has
resulted in many accidents from falls, so travel during
daylight whenever possible.
Check for potential hazards. Be sure to check thoroughly
for glass, sharp objects, branches, large ant beds, poison
ivy, potential for bee stings and hazardous terrain.
Avoid areas of natural hazards. Check the contour of
the land and for potential trouble due to rain.
campfires in a safe area. Your open fires and fuel burning
appliances must be far enough away from the tent to prevent
ignition from sparking flames and heat.
Beware when encountering wildlife. Use a flashlight
at night many animals feed at night and the use of
a flashlight may warn them away. To ward off bears, keep
your campsite clean and do not leave food, garbage, coolers,
cooking equipment or utensils out in the open.
Watch out for bugs. Avoid attracting stinging insects
like mosquitoes by wearing light colored clothing and avoiding
perfume and cologne.
Beware of poisonous plants. Familiarize yourself with
any dangerous plants that are common to the area where you
Think before you drink. No matter how clean or pure
stream water looks, it's likely to contain water-borne
parasites and microorganisms that can cause discomfort or
camping tips, along with related safety information, can
be found on the USDA Forest Service Web site at: www.fs.fed.us
Running Hot and Cold
Not only should campers remain cognizant of possible severe weather;
they also need to be mindful of extreme temperatures or sudden
climate shifts. “Extremely cold temperatures and winds rob heat
from the body,” says Weaver. This, increases your risk for hypothermia
When camping in the winter, pack extra blankets, food and water
to reduce these risks.
It takes planning to handle any weather Mother Nature might throw at your camping
trip. Simply following some basic tips can lead to a much more
enjoyable camping experience.
* Check the weather before you leave home. A variety of Web sites
offer weather forecasts seven days in advance. NOAA’s Web site
can be found at www.weather.gov.
* Carry a weather radio at all times. Available at most electronics
stores, a weather radio can be programmed to a specific location
and provide life-saving notification of a fast-developing storm.
* Talk to your camping group and develop a contingency plan should
bad weather arise.
When it comes to providing peace of mind and safety while camping,
nothing rivals a reliable power source. Onan, a leader in power
generation products, recently introduced a generator designed
specifically for the smaller, towable RVs. Onan’s Camp Power is
the first installed generator to provide power to the towable
RVs so popular with millions of campers. Now when RVers are caught
in severe weather, they can have the electricity they need to
operate communication devices to monitor the storm and signal
for help if necessary.
Brad Herzog knows how reassuring it is to have reliable power
with you when the weather turns bad. “When the weather is iffy,
it’s nice to be able to tune into a news station to know what’s
up.” Since weather can change quickly, it is important to constantly
keep track of it while camping.
addition to powering weather devices for travelers, generators
can make camping more comfortable by supplying power to air conditioners
to cool the RV or run heaters on cold days.
And rain won’t put a damper on campfire cooking for campers with
Camp Power installed towable. A generator can power almost any
electrical kitchen appliance. Travelers can cook meals in the
microwave or on an electric grill when the weather doesn’t allow
them to build a campfire.
Turning Lemons into Lemonade
Despite all your preparations, sometimes the weather simply won’t
cooperate with your outdoor plans. But that doesn’t have to ruin
the camping experience.
Herzog recalls when he and his wife were traveling through Kansas
and they encountered severe storms. “Other people began to pull
their cars over and panic,” Herzog explains. “We pulled over to
the side of the road made some grilled cheese sandwiches and relaxed
while the storm passed.”
great thing about being in an RV is if you don’t feel that the
weather is conducive to driving, you can pull over and you have
your house with you. With powerful generators in your RVs, you
can be anywhere and have the conveniences of home,” says Herzog.
With planning and preparation, it’s possible to camp year round
in almost all kinds of weather. Checking the weather forecast
regularly, listening to a weather radio and knowing what your
group is going to do in the event of bad weather allows campers
to have a safe and fun trip anytime of year.
To get up to the minute weather related information, log on to weather.gov.
Courtesy ARA Content
also see in Travel -> Tips for Keeping Warm While Winter Camping
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