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Mark My Words: Should you have a weather alert system?

Editor’s note: This information is provided by the Escapees Club.

Q. We are full-time RVers and stay at a lot of campgrounds. It worries us that so many campgrounds do not have a warning system or a place to go if a tornado is approaching. Each campground should have a weather-alert system for campers. Most campgrounds do not have anything in place, and the county should be printed and brought to the attention of the camper checking in. Some type of loud horn or other type of equipment needs to be in place to help campers get to some type of cover.

We feel, if a campground is going into business, they should have in place cinder block rest room facilities and some type of warning system. Also, it would be nice if there was a list of campgrounds that have a warning system and cinder block rest rooms. By knowing that, a person could stay or not even stop if the campground did not have the necessary weather protection in place. There have been too many tornadoes this past season, and so many lives could be saved if a system were in place.

Jerry and Laverne

A. Having traveled a lot in the Midwest, I hear your concern! For my own safety, I acquired a good NOAA weather radio with an alert function, and I always paid attention to what county I was in and what the weather was doing. Having your own weather radio is far better than relying on someone else to tell you when dangerous weather is in your area. I use my GPS software to determine what county I’m in, or I ask at the office when I check in. Many radios can be programmed to exclude warnings for all counties except the one you are in. That’s handy, but not absolutely necessary.

I think that parks may be leery of the potential for liability if they have a severe weather warning system that they are responsible for maintaining and activating. I found it rare for a park to have such a system, and, if you think about it, it kind of makes sense. For example, if a park told their customers that they had a warning siren, say, and in the event of a tornado approaching, they failed to activate it, or the system failed due to an electrical fault or something, would they then be liable for failing to warn the campers?

I have found that most parks in “tornado alley” have shelters designated, but tornadoes can strike anywhere, even in areas that do not normally experience them. These parks in non-tornado-prone areas are generally not going to have tornado shelters onsite. But, if you are observant of your surroundings, it is often easy to spot sturdy structures that could serve as a shelter in time of need. Again, it’s worth asking about when you check in. I think the best guardian of your personal safety is you.

If you don’t know what county you are in, visit this website and enter the closest city: www.whatcountyamiin.com.

About Mark Nemeth

In 1997, Mark quit his aerospace engineering job and became a full-time RVer. For almost five years he traveled the country while maintaining his website, Mark’s Fulltime RV Adventure (www.marxrv.com) posting monthly travel logs. Mark now travels part-time and works as the RV Safety Education Director for Escapees RV Club providing technical training at Escapees Boot Camp seminars, as well as assisting in many other areas of the club. He is also technical advisor for Escapees magazine. Learn more about Escapees RV Club at www.escapees.com.

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