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How to Prepare Your RV to Be a Disaster Shelter

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Disasters happen. No matter where you live, there is nothing preventing catastrophic events from occurring, whether they are acts of God or acts of man. It’s a great idea to always be prepared, but have you ever considered utilizing your RV in case of an emergency? This guide on how to prepare your RV to be a disaster shelter will help you prepare for any situation and be ready to head out at a moment’s notice with everything you’ll need to survive!

Always Be Prepared

You don’t want to wait until it’s too late to prepare for a disaster. Although thinking like this may make you feel like a paranoid worrier, the old adage “better safe than sorry” certainly applies here. Thinking of every possible situation from every angle will help reduce the level and shock and panic if a disaster happens to strike.

Always keep an eye on weather forecasts and news reports, as they will alert you to any severe weather heading to the region, and any current goings-on that could lead to emergency situations. Although the chances are greater that you won’t end up the victim of an extreme situation, you’ll want to be ready, and have your RV packed up and ready to hit the road at a moment’s notice.

Whether you’re a full-time RVer who moves around a lot, or a weekend warrior who spends most of your time at home, you’ll want to be familiar with the greater region around you so that you can develop a sound escape plan. Make a list of campgrounds in different distances away from your current location so that you can evacuate quickly and make reservations while you travel to safety. Just make sure that you’re out of the line of danger and can stay safe.


One of the more important aspects for turning your RV into a disaster shelter is the food situation. In a large disaster situation, stopping at a fast food restaurant for burgers won’t be an option. You’ll want to stock up on easy-to-prepare essentials, like canned goods (don’t forget the can opener!), or consider including a few freeze-dried camping meals that require minimal preparation.

Also make sure that you have a good stock of plates, silverware, napkins, and paper towels, as well as pots, pans, and utensils for a variety of cooking. Be prepared for any situation, whether you’re using your RV’s stove or cooking over the campfire.

You’ll also want to keep a good stock of cleaning supplies on hand, like plenty of dish soap, scrubbies, towels, and any other essentials so you can keep everything clean and keep pests at bay.


It’s imperative, in the case of an emergency, that you’re able to tend to any wounds, as well as keep up with medication schedules to stay healthy. If anything, you should ensure that there is a well-stocked first aid kit on board, with all the necessary creams, ointments, rinses, bandages, as well as plenty of pain reliever.

Keep everyone’s prescription medications in one centralized location at home, so that it will be easy to grab them and take them with you without having to search the whole house. Keep a stock of over-the-counter medications nearby or in your RV’s bathroom so that you won’t have to hunt down a pharmacy amid the chaos.

You’ll always want to keep a plethora of toiletries either stocked in your RV or packed up in the house in a place where they can be grabbed and packed easily. Regardless of whether you’ll be able to shower or not, you’ll appreciate at least a bar of soap and some deodorant to stay feeling fresh, and never underestimate the power of dry shampoo!


The last thing you’ll want to do when you know that disaster is imminent is to take time to pack up and search high and low for that shirt you just can’t live without. Keep at least a few outfits per person stored in the RV, including shoes, underwear, socks, and jackets, so that in case of a quick evacuation, you won’t have to make do with the clothes on your back.

Bedding is also important to keep stocked in your camper. From fresh sheets, sleeping bags, pillows, and blankets, these are things you definitely won’t want to be caught without. Keep an extra set in the RV, or just make sure to wash the set you keep in the RV after a trip and put them directly back in the rig.

Helpful tip—use vacuum space-saving bags to store these items safely and efficiently. These not only cut down on the space used, but will help keep bugs and rodents from nesting in and destroying linens while in storage!



Although you probably have a whole set dedicated to your RV, make sure you have a full set of standard tools in the RV. If you end up having to rough it, you won’t be without some really helpful items.

Kids’ Supplies

If you’re traveling with kids, especially infants, you’ll want to make sure you’re stocked up on extra supplies that will be essential for survival. Keep a bag of extra diapers, formula, bottles, wipes, and other items packed up so you can grab it and go. For older kids, make sure they have their favorite stuffed animals or other comfort objects close by.


There’s no way you’d leave your pet behind, so think ahead and prepare the RV with supplies for them too! Keep an airtight container with food, litter/box, waste bags, and other essentials stored in the RV and it’ll be one less thing you’ll have to remember to grab in case of an emergency.

Fire Starters

We’re sure there will be tons of little things here and there you’ll think to add to the list of essentials for your RV disaster shelter, but reliable fire starters definitely should be one of them! Even if you have a great range, oven, and microwave in your RV, you’ll save valuable battery power and fuel by opting for a campfire, if possible. Keep fire starters in a dry, cool place, like in an air-tight container, to keep them ready for burning.


Again, if you won’t have access to shore power, you won’t be able to rely on battery power 24/7. Make sure the RV is always stocked with flashlights and lanterns, as well as the corresponding batteries so you’ll never be in the dark.

Solar Accessories

You can’t always rely on batteries to do the job, and if electricity isn’t an option, you won’t want to be left without options. Invest in solar-powered accessories, like a solar phone charger, lanterns, flashlights, and more so that you an still live day-to-day life without the dependence on fuel and electricity.


If you’re running low on power, or you just want to conserve energy, use a heavy duty cooler instead of your refrigerator to keep cold times from getting warm. Five-day coolers help to keep food colder for longer, and are perfect for this exact type of situation.


Whether you can set up camp at a full-hookups campground or have to survive on minimal amenities, ensure that you have some form of entertainment you can bring along to keep everyone sane. Include books, movies, board games, card games, coloring supplies, and other fun activities in the RV.

Other Considerations

Get regular RV and tow vehicle tune-ups—The worst-case scenario is a break down in the face of disaster. Turn to a professional for complete tune-ups. Give RV World’s service department a call today to schedule an RV checkup!

Look up traffic route info—If a large disaster hits and people are trying to leave town, avoid main roads and highways as much as possible, as they will be packed with people (if the roadways aren’t damaged).

Have a physical emergency fund—Save paper money in a secure place, as credit cards are useless when the system is down. Smaller bills, $20 and less, are more likely to be accepted at stores because larger bills are harder to break. Smaller amounts are also less attractive to thieves.

Give solar panels more consideration—These will allow you to be more self sustainable, that way you won’t be out of luck if the power is totally out in the region!

What do you think? Do you find these tips on how to prepare your RV to be a disaster shelter useful? The homelike feel of RVs will help to keep everyone comfortable if you have to leave your stick-and-brick home behind! If you don’t have an RV and think having one for emergencies is a good idea, come see us at RV World, where we have hundreds of new RVs for sale in Grand Rapids that are perfect for disaster shelter protection!

Do you use your RV as a disaster shelter? Have you actually ever had to use it? Leave us a comment and let us know how this has helped you!

What Do You Think?