This world has seen its share of natural disasters, and we often find ourselves at the mercy of storms, earthquakes, and more. While sobering and tragic events like this may remind us of our fragility, it often brings out the best in people. Images of people uniting to aid ravaged communities take over social media and the national news.
During such times, we fully recognize the need for shelter from the storm, a command center for organizing rescue missions, and a place from which to base first aid and emergency care. The unprepared are forced to wait on government or local response, which may show up too late or not at all. We recommend being prepared, and as an RV owner, you are one step ahead of those who don't own one. In addition to having a shelter for someone in need, your camping experience may also prove invaluable when survival is on the line.
RV Shelter Requirements:
- Must be easily set up. This is generally a case of more being more – meaning, the more features your RV has, the more you have to offer. While a huge TV is certainly fun to watch, two bathrooms or multiple bunks will be what survivors can really use. However, what counts is that you have a way to assist, no matter how large or small.
- Must be fairly durable. Elegant furnishings and designer fabrics are wonderful, and we certainly appreciate high-end amenities as much as anyone, but the first muddy or injured person you house will take care of that mighty quickly. High-wear surfaces like linoleum flooring or vinyl coverings can take a beating and simply be washed off for Round 2.
- Must be mobile. When you see that blaze approaching or the flood waters rising, you need to be able to move away quickly, not only for your own protection, but for that of the RV as a shelter, and those relying on its services. If your RV gets damaged or wiped out, it helps nobody.
RV Shelter Operation:
Step 1. Plan and prepare
The Boy Scouts were onto something here. You can't help anyone else if you are like a deer in headlights when the time comes to act. Keep your RV cleaned and stocked, including things you may need if your primary residence, heaven forbid, is somehow inaccessible. This includes copies of important documents, medicine, food (people and pet), first aid supplies, extra clothes, and even survival gear. Missing something or searching for a critical item while the sky is falling can put the lives of you and those around you at risk. You remembered to fill the gas tank and stock up on extra batteries, right?
Step 2. Get yourself and your loved ones out of danger
Similar to Step 1, you need to make sure you and your family are safe before setting out to help others. This may sound like a selfish idea, but the same principle applies as "affix your own oxygen mask before assisting someone else" when flying. A person who has a safe place to base their rescue operations from can venture out into the face of danger over and over again if need be, with the knowledge that they did everything they could to keep their immediate family out of harm's way first. You can probably see how this ties in with owning an RV. Don't forget, disaster can occur while traveling as well as at home.
Step 3. Help everyone you can
Don't wait for someone else to step up, just take a deep breath and be that person. Do what you can. This doesn't mean jumping headfirst into a tidal wave while brandishing a pickaxe like a superhero, but it does mean offering shelter from the elements, the blankets that you previously stashed in a drawer, fresh water from your topped-off supply, first aid to the injured, and food if you can spare it. None of these actions are inherently dangerous, and any of them can be potentially lifesaving. That onboard heater you didn't use all winter could be used to ward off hypothermia for hurricane victims, for example.
Step 4. Be ready for the long haul
Disaster relief, sadly, doesn't run Monday through Friday from 9-5. Usually, efforts will stretch past days into weeks or even months. While certainly nobody is obligated to extend aid to their fellow man any longer than they would like, it is a hard heart indeed that looks into the eyes of an injured or homeless stranger and declares it to be quitting time. When you are planning and preparing, have in mind that sustenance and supplies need to last longer than expected.
As a side note, if you don't have an RV, or yours is incapacitated, there are national RV temporary housing agencies that will work with you to provide mobile shelter for anyone who is in need.
As a camping or traveling enthusiast, being ready and having a plan in place will pay off someday, and when the unexpected happens, you will have actually expected it (or something like it) all along, and you will be ready and waiting. Do you have any disaster relief tips or stories? Feel free to share them in the comments below!