Sierra Nevada Airstreams -> TT Owner's Guide -> Living

Recreation with vehicles in the Sierra Nevada and American Great Basin areas

The RV is an Emergency Preparation Plan

Being ready to roll at a moment's notice

If you use your RV on a regular basis, you know what it takes to supply it for a few days independent of the social infrastructure. Being able to live without water, sewer, electricity, or other infrastructure capabilities for two or three days is one of the basic requirements of an emergency preparedness plan. It only takes a little bit more to make sure that you can use your RV not only for recreation but also as a means to be prepared for most natural or civil emergencies that come along.


Knowing your RV is ready to roll is the first requirement. This means that it must be properly maintained and that any problems that come up should be fixed as soon as possible.

In addition to vehicle maintenance you also need to pay attention to the equipment you use with your RV. This includes generators as well as hoses, adapters, and all that other stuff. Maintenance also means keeping your propane tanks filled and your tow vehicle gas tank at least half full. Another part of maintenance is keeping clean sheets and towels in the RV as well as emptying the garbage and cleaning dishes.

Perishable supplies

An RV that is not lived in tends to get hot in the summer and cold in the winter. This is not good for most foods and some other perishable supplies - especially if there are freezing temperatures or over 90 degree temperatures. Keep these things in your pantry bundled together so it is easy to grab and run without leaving behind something critical.

Keeping perishable supplies stored with household items has several benefits. They are stored so they will be usable for a longer period of time and they may be used and replaced with fresh supplies on an ongoing basis. The downside is that a conscious effort must be made to keep the inventory up these supplies need to kept organized for immediate removal as a package.


A supply of drinking water is one of the most critical emergency preparedness supplies to keep in stock. If some construction down the street knocks a hole in the water mains, a hurricane or tornado wanders your way, or something else happens to your water supply, you will need drinking water to last a few days until the water supply problem is fixed or some other workaround can be set up. Your RV is an ideal place to store a few gallons of water.

One problem is that water freezes and you don't want to destroy your water tank over winter. Leave a couple of gallons of water in food grade containers that can freeze without bursting in your RV refrigerator, perhaps in a bucket in case the is a leak anyway. There should be at least one gallon per person stored this way and two gallons per per person would be better. What you don't want to do is to make this water storage a nuisance when you prepare for a routine outing.

Why the fridge? When you set your rig to a standby status, you should make sure the door of your refrigerator is left ajar to prevent condensation and molding. Even with the door ajar, the refrigerator still provides an insulated environment that will help keep what is inside from the extremes of heat or cold that occur in your RV in storage.

Special supplies

Emergency preparedness means having on hand a few things you don't normally need. A first aid kit is one of the most essential. Others include items such as prescription medicines,

Routine supplies

There are two types of routine supplies. One is that set of stuff that just lives in your RV and is dedicated to its use. The second set includes things like clothing and personal items that you pack every time you go on an outing. This second set needs consideration in terms of emergency preparedness. You should have some spare underwear and a winter jacket stored in the RV. New stuff isn't needed - just stuff about one step away from being tossed or used for rags. Think about what would be needed to be comfortable on a weekend campout.

Weight and volume considerations

One thing you don't want to do is to load down your RV so much with emergency supplies that you have to completely reconfigure in order to go on a short outing.

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Last updated 05/17/2003