The weather is warming up and before you know it, hurricane season will be bearing down on us again. You have days to prepare before it hits but if you are a veteran of hurricane season, you may be one of those who refuse to evacuate until the last minute. When you wait until the last minute, you are bound to forget to do some things – like tie down your RV! Once the hurricane hits, it’s too late.
Worse, if you do remember at the last minute but don’t know how to tie down an RV for a hurricane you’re still going to be up shit’s creek. Just like Floridians who keep extra plywood lying around in case they need to board up before the next hurricane hits, RV owners need to have the tools, equipment, and know-how to prepare an RV to withstand the destructive winds and rains from a hurricane.
In case you are a new RV owner or you were burned the last time you left your RV out in the rain when a hurricane hit, it is very important to tie down your RV beforehand. Before hurricane season gets underway full swing and with everyone anxious to get out of the house, we thought this would be the perfect time to get you ready. After you read this article, you will know everything you need to know to tie down your RV in anticipation of a hurricane so that it will be all set to ride it out in-tact.
Preparing to Tie Down an RV
The most common DIY way to secure an RV in a hurricane is to strap it down. But before you can get to that, there are several steps that you have to take to prepare your RV before you tie it down. For instance, number one is you have to move your RV (if it isn’t there already) to high ground.
With hurricanes come, flooding – lots and lots of Noah’s Ark style flooding – where it is not uncommon to see cars, boats, and RVs being carried away down the street by the current. Therefore, job number one when preparing your RV for a hurricane is to get it out of the path of the flood. So if you usually park your RV on the street or in the driveway or out back, look at the ground around it. Can you picture water on the street flooding high enough to cover your RV’s tires? If so, you need to move it to higher ground.
Not only could flood waters carry your RV away, it could cause massive water damage to the exterior as well as the interior of your RV. We’re talking mold damage, damage to the upholstery, destruction of electrical and mechanical; your RV could end up totaled just due to flooding during a hurricane. In addition, winds will send branches, trees, garbage cans, lawn furniture careening through the air which could hit your RV and bust out windows and cause damage to the body of the RV.
Second step is to make sure that you place your RV out of the line of fire from surrounding trees or structures that could move or get blown into the vehicle. If there are loose branches, furniture, equipment or tools in the area, move them somewhere away from the RV. When you park it on high ground, you want to face the RV toward the wind not away from it.
Step three; you need to board up your windows to prepare for high winds and flying debris. A lot of people use plywood since it’s pretty cheap. For a little added security, you could anchor that plywood using simple Plylox blocks like these carbon steel Hurricane Window Clips from Plylox®:
If you have a detachable awning on your RV, take it down and put it away. If your RV comes with a slide-out awning, make sure that it is closed and locked in. During this step you should also take the time to fill the water tanks that may have come with your RV. These help to weigh down the RV further stabilizing it in high winds and flooding.
Safety check, make sure you turn off the propane if you use propane in your RV and close the cylinders too. Store and lock your propane tanks away in a secure place that won’t end up causing a fire or leaking. Do not leave propane tanks attached and operable during a hurricane even if you are out camping and it is your only place of refuge during the hurricane – turn it off!
Finally, if there is a place where you live that offers RV storage, it is worth the money to store your RV in a facility, especially if you live in a low-lying area like a valley where parking on high ground is not an option. Even if the facility gets flooded, they often offer insurance and other protections to ensure the safety of your RV during a hurricane. However, if that is not an option and you have a place to tie down an RV for a hurricane, here is how you do it.
How-To Tie Down an RV for a Hurricane
Preparation is the key to tying down an RV because you are going to need specific tools and equipment to handle hurricane strength winds. Modern RVs tend to weigh less than they used to so that you can hitch it up to your SUV and off you go. However, that lightweight is also hazardous in high winds and torrential rains. You have to tie it down and anchor it so that it doesn’t float or blow away. Here is a quick rundown of the tools and equipment you are going to need to do this right. You can find all of these tie-down tools in one place at this Amazon link.
What Tools Do I Need?
Driving in high winds with an RV hitched to your SUV is dangerous. A lightweight RV sitting by itself is also at high risk for hurricane damage. However, if you hitch your RV to your SUV and then anchor it, it can actually secure it in a hurricane. Additionally, if your RV comes with stabilizing jacks (which many do) they can also provide additional anchoring.
Mainly however, you are going to want to buy both vertical and horizontal RV anchors. The kinds of anchors you choose will depend on what kind of ground you are anchoring your RV in (concrete vs. grass, for example). It will also depend on the type and size of your specific RV so check out those specs before choosing RV anchors. But you will need RV anchors and straps, usually sold together but you can also buy them separately.
What Equipment Do I Need?
If you have an awning built into your RV, it should already have a hideaway for your awning but if not or you’ve added an awning to your RV, you will need to buy a separate anchoring kid for your awning, which is available here. You can also buy a set of straps to go with your anchors in an RV hurricane strap kit to make tying it down easier. Now let’s get to the ‘how-to’:
Parking on Paved Space
First off, it is going to require a different type of anchor system to tie down an RV on pavement versus grass. Again, the safest place to park your RV in a hurricane is on high ground but what if that ground is paved. You will specifically need “concrete anchors” to secure your RV into the ground. Of course you’ll need a drill that can drill those anchors into the concrete or pavement. Also make sure you are not doing damage to someone else’s property if you have to anchor on paved space.
For loose soil or grass you can use screw anchors or what are known as “dead-man anchors. If the ground is more on the rocky side than the grassy side, look for “hard rock” anchors. A quick tip is to elevate your trailer if possible a couple of inches off of the ground surrounding it. You may want to grab some concrete cinder blocks to put around your tires to keep them from sinking into loose soil too.
Once you’ve found the right anchors for your RV, you’ll start with installing your vertical anchors. These anchors should be installed underneath the frame of the RV on the front and back end and on each corner. There should be a 2-to-1 ratio between vertical and diagonal anchors. If you use two vertical anchors per side, you’ll need four diagonal ones. If you use three vertical anchors, you’ll need six diagonal ones. As long as your RV isn’t bigger than 50’ you shouldn’t need any more than that.
Once you’ve pounded or drilled the vertical anchors in, you will create a three dimensional triangle on each corner basically by angling two of the anchors diagonally at a 40 to 45 degree angle from the frame of the trailer. This technique gives added stability in super high winds like hurricane winds.
When it comes to buying your tie-downs you have a number of options. How well you’ve drilled your anchors into the ground is important but you also want to get heavy duty straps to keep your RV tied down. The rule of thumb is to buy straps that can withstand at least 3,000 pounds of pressure up to 5,000. You have your choice between cable straps, steel straps, super strength fiber straps and stainless steel.
Installing Tie-Down Straps
Whenever you buy your tie-down straps, they will come with instructions on how to install them but generally speaking, you will attach one end up the strap to an anchor on one side, stretch it across the RV to the other side and tie it to the opposing anchor. You could also use the trusses on top of your RV as a guide as to where to strap down. It’s all really a matter of taste and what style of RV you are using. Ultimately you want to make sure that it is evenly tied down on all sides – the 2 to 1 ratio. Rule number one is to make sure that there is the right amount of tension on your trailer. You don’t want to cause damage but you also want maximum tension on those straps so that your RV doesn’t budge no matter how bad the hurricane gets.
RV Safety Tips in a Hurricane
Before you go, there are a few hurricane safety tips for RV owners that can save a lot of money when the storm is over. The number one tip that we can give is to check the weather first! People like to take road trips in RVs in the spring and summer but you don’t want to find out that you’ve picked a really bad week to RV to Miami with a hurricane coming after you’ve already hit the road.
If you are traveling by RV, plan ahead – well ahead. Make sure that you are not mobile when a hurricane hits. You should NEVER try to ride out a hurricane in an RV or drive through one. If the hurricane is upon you, it is too late to tie it down and you are not safe inside.
Remember to park facing the wind. If the side of your RV is facing hurricane strength winds, it is more likely than not to end up flipped over and blown away. Wherever you choose to park your RV and anchor it down, make sure that it is out of the path of the wind. Steering clear of trees and potential blowing hazards, it is a good idea to park it near a sturdy building or a big hill to help try to block some of the strength of the winds coming at your RV during a hurricane.