America Camping Xplorers


fallen trees



Earthquake: a sudden, rapid shaking of the earth caused by the breaking and shifting of rock beneath the earth’s surface. They are one of the most unpredictable natural events.

When you arrive at your RV Park before an earthquake take a look around the area where your RV is set up. Identify safe areas. Most injuries and deaths result from walls collapsing, flying glass and falling debris.

During and earthquake, if you are in your RV, it may be safer to stay inside and get under your table than to go outside if there is a chance of a tree, pole, power line, or other object falling on you. Getting under a table, in a hallway, shower or between beds might be the safer places. Trees can fall on RVs and crush them, but if you stay low, away from windows and falling objects, and near stronger structures you may be safer than trying to go outside during an earthquake.

If you are outside, find an open area away from trees, power lines, poles, or overpasses.

For anyone with a RV, you should shut off the propane tanks as soon as it’s safe to do so.

If you find yourself trapped under debris, try to stay still and not stir up dust. Cover your mouth and nose with clothing to keep from inhaling dust. Don’t shout unless you know someone is close enough to hear you. Shouting may result in inhaling dust. Instead, tap on something to let people know you are there.

After the Earthquake

Aftershocks are common, though usually milder. Depending upon the strength of the initial earthquake, the aftershock might be strong enough to pose a danger, so be ready.

  • Keep your weather radio turned on and listen for warnings and advisories. If you are near the coast, tsunamis may be possible. Dams may be damaged threatening flash floods and other damage may put you at risk for a secondary emergency.
  • If you are camping in the wilderness, watch for landslides or falling rocks or boulders that have loosened. When safe, move your RV to a safer spot in a more open area until you know that roads are clear and you can safely leave the area.
  • Inspect your RV, vehicle and site carefully for damage. Don’t light any fires. There may be gas leaks in the area.
  • Use caution opening cabinets as the contents may fall out.
  • If a power line has fallen on your RV, don’t go outside or touch any metal fixtures. Call 911 for assistance.
  • If you can travel after an earthquake, be aware that there might be power outages, downed power lines, closed roads, traffic lights that don’t work and other hazards you might not anticipate.

If you are in your tent get out as soon as you can.

Watch out and move away from fallen trees, boulders, and other objects which could fall and injure or kill you.

If your campfire is burning, put it out if possible.

vehicles in flood waters

Flash Flood

Flash Flood

Most campers will not have any problems with a little rain and getting wet is a part of the camping experience. Rains can be a serious danger to campers. Campers travel to or from by car or motorized on non-motorized motor home.  Flash floods can be just as dangerous as thunderstorm. People died from trying to drive through rising waters.

Here are some tips in recognizing a flash flood situation:

  • If there are thunderstorms in your area stay away from streams and low water crossing. Water can rise many feet in minutes. Even if you can swim the water may be too treacherous for a swimmer. It can knock you off your feet thus you end up in a very dangerous situation.
  • Never drive into water if you don’t know exactly how deep the water is, rapidly-rising water can overtake a vehicle easily before the driver can react. It only takes about 18-24 inches of water to float most vehicles. Once the vehicle is afloat, it is out of the driver’s control.
  • There are changes that fast moving water could have trees, floating objects, and even boulders rolling along just under the surface. If you are struck by this debris, your vehicle can be knocked off a bridge or water crossing and swept away before you know it.
hail, ice rain, big



Hail from a thunderstorm can be dangerous. High winds within the thunderclouds whip particles up and down through various temperatures. At low levels, they pick up moisture. At high elevations, the moisture that has accumulated on particles freezes. As they grow heavy enough, they fall into warmer, moist air and pick up more moisture. If the winds are strong enough, they are whipped back up and the new layer of moisture freezes. Hails speed depends on its position in the cloud’s updraft and it’s mass. This determines the varying thicknesses of the layers of the hailstone. The stronger the winds within the cloud, the larger and heavier the hailstones grow.

    Small hail is mostly a nuisance and may cause some pain if you are caught out in it. You can usually get pretty good protection from small hail under small trees and bushes or even a tent or awning. As the hail gets larger, the hazard increases. Golf-ball sized hail will dent vehicles, damage roofs, and break windows and windshields. Tents and fabric awnings are little protection and will be severely damaged by hail of this size.

    Even larger hailstones have been recorded, some bigger than a baseball. Imagine having one of those landing on your head!  If you encounter a hailstorm, seek shelter immediately. If you are on the road and the hail gets bigger than a dime, you may want to get under a freeway bridge before it breaks your windshield or damages your vehicle, just be aware in low visibility conditions that no one slams into you. Make sure none of your vehicles block traffic on roadway by pulling clear without getting stuck in soft soil.

     If you are in camp, about all you can do is get yourself and any equipment under any shelter you can find and wait it out. The roof of your RV or other vehicle may be dented by large hailstones but at least they’ll keep them off of your head. Tents will provide protection against small hail, but if it heads toward golf ball size, you might want to get in or crawl under your vehicle or other sturdy protection until it stops if you don’t have any other safe place.

    If you’re out on the trails on your ATV, horse, or on foot, seek any shelter you can find. A cave or a rock overhang would provide the best protection in some areas because if there is the likeability of lightning, you won’t want to choose huddling under a large tree as it is a good conductor. You don’t want your body or anything that is important to you to become the highest point around. Even fairly small hailstones can dent vehicles and break windows. Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do if you’re caught out in a hailstorm. Get your vehicle under some kind of protection if you can. A bridge (good visibility) or an overpass (low traffic) or the canopy at a gas station provides the most protection, but trees can slow or divert at least some of the hailstones although being under trees may subject you to falling branches from high winds that often accompany thunder storms, (lightning) so pick your spot carefully.




Don’t stand under or near large objects, like tall trees. Lightning is more likely to hit something tall. A person can conduct electricity much better than air can; therefore lightning can travel through you to reach the ground.

Hiking on the trail during a thunderstorm is not a wise thing to do if you are exposed. If you’re in a forest, there are many trees about and your chances of being hit by lightning are not very likely, however the risks are higher along an exposed trail. Just make sure it isn’t a lone tree or the tallest one around. You don’t want to try and hide from a thunderstorm next to a lightning rod! You should get as low as possible to the ground. Regrettably; shallow caves and overhanging rocks provide only shelter from the rain. They don’t increase your safety from lightning strikes by very much, as in other exposed mountain locations.

During a thunderstorm, it is likely that campers will want to stay in their tents. This may provide shelter from the rain, but if you lie down in the tent, you are at risk from ground currents, which might prefer to run through you, from head to foot (or the other way around) as you lie in contact with the ground. Such a current flow would probably stop your heart. If you are standing up, but with your feet spread apart, a potential (voltage) difference could exist between your feet, encouraging current to run up one leg and down the other. It might not stop your heart, but it probably would be very unpleasant, given what it would likely pass through on its way! Hence, when sheltering from the rain in tents, you need to be taking steps to reduce the danger from ground currents. It is not known, to what extent air mattresses and foam pads will protect you, while lying down, though insulating your contact points from the ground, it may not make much of a difference (considering the huge amounts of energy in lightning) but electrical theories are in our favor and well worth the effort in our opinion!

If you have chosen a campsite in an exposed location and your tents\RVs\Trailers are the highest objects nearby, immediately abandon such a campsite and all your gear, and move to a better location until the lightning passes over. Campsites located among many taller trees would probably be all right, in the sense that the chances of your particular location being struck are pretty low. However, you could still be unlucky, and the risk from ground currents and secondary strikes from lightning hitting nearby trees remains.

This is a reality check!  If thunderstorms are in the forecast; don’t go camping in that region!  But if you’re in it, an RV will be much better for riding out a thunderstorm than a tent. Note that non-metallic tent frames aren’t much difference than metal frames, in terms of the lightning threat. The same goes for various forms of “insulation” between the tent and the ground. If a lightning flash has passed through thousands of feet of air (a terrific insulator), a few cm of rubber or whatever isn’t going to make any difference that matters.

If the lightning is already occurring near you and you need to move to a safer camping site, do not save time by cutting through an open area where you would be the tallest object around. If you can’t find a trail through the woods, it’s too late and you would be better off staying in an area surrounded by trees or other tall objects than taking a chance crossing an open area.

If the lightning is not yet in your immediate vicinity but is approaching (the time from flash-to-bang is getting shorter), then if you have time to cross the open area to reach a better shelter, then do so quickly so that you’re not caught in the open. If the flash-to-bang time is less than about 30 seconds, then you are most likely better off with the shelter you have than to risk moving.

Although lightning is seemingly random, there are some things you can do to minimize your risks if you are caught in the open during a thunderstorm:

  • Avoid being the tallest object around. Go into a squat, getting as low as you can, and try not to lie prone on the ground. Get off any mountaintop as fast as you safety can without harming yourself or others.
  • It also is unwise to be near the tallest object around, like an isolated tree. Sheltering from the rain under a tree is often a factor in people being struck. Depressions in a rock or shallow caves don’t offer much protection from lightning on a mountaintop. Your best protection is to get down from the peaks as quickly as possible. You might have to leave your gear behind. You can always go back and retrieve it after the storm passes.

There is no “warning sign” that will tell you reliably that lightning is about to strike.

Don’t depend on having your hair stand on end, or whatever. The first sign of a lightning strike may be the flash itself. Of course, if your hair does stand on end, then you should take steps to protect yourself immediately!

Take shelter if the time from seeing a flash to the time you hear thunder is 30 seconds or less, and don’t resume activities until 30 minutes have elapsed from the last lightning and thunder. The time from the flash to the thunder is a rough measure of how distant the lightning is. If you see a flash and count the seconds, five seconds corresponds to about a mile. However, there is no distance from a thunderstorm that is absolutely safe! If you can see the lightning, then you are under some threat.

This is another good option for riding out a storm. Stay away from any electrical appliances and large windows during the storm. Keep in mind that strong and gusty winds may accompany many storms and can damage a camper that is exposed.

<strong “mso-bidi-font-weight:=”” normal”=””>Avoid Water – Get out of the pool, lake, ocean, or any body of water. Water conducts electricity because of all of the minerals in it; meaning that electricity can travel through water. Storms may produce flash flooding, so stay out of obvious washes and dry creek bed areas.

  • You do not have to be directly hit by the lightning to be affected. Lightning can travel along the ground from a nearby strike to you. It can also jump from nearby objects that are struck.
  • Avoid being near fence lines and power lines that lead into areas where lightning is occurring. A flash can travel along the wires and jump to you.

Take the lightning position. Sit down and pull your knees up to your chest. Wrap your arms around your legs, keep your feet together, place your head on your knees and close your eyes. The goal is to make as small a target as possible for lightning.

Get medical help immediately if someone is struck! In the meantime, administer CPR to any lightning strike victims if their heart has stopped and they have stopped breathing until professional medical help arrives. If they are simply not conscious, treat for shock (not electrical shock!). The treatment for lightning is not the same as someone that has been electrocuted by household, alternating current. For standard electrical shock, the medical team would administer fluids, which is the wrong thing to do with lightning victims.

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