The weather report for the day said there was only a 25% – 30% chance of rain in the late afternoon. Nothing unusual for Southwest Florida. But by 6pm the rain had gone from an afternoon shower to a full on band of heavy rainfall. We talked about bring in the awning on our 27′ travel trailer but since it was angled for drainage and had stayed up and secure for countless precipitous events before, we figured all would be okay.
It wasn’t though. In the course of just 5 minutes tops we heard a few thumps, a rattle or two, and as I walked out the door to see what was happening I was just in time to see the awning arm buckle, bend, and ultimately fall off. After all was said and done and the rain stopped for a few minutes we were left wondering what some safety tips might be for those living in tiny houses on wheels? Not every scenario is predictable and like our afternoon shower turned gust of wind and blinding wind, it is our responsibility to decide how to deal with such, ultimately choosing fight or flight!
KNOW YOUR TINY HOUSE
If you built you own tiny house this is infinitely easier than those living in one built for them or manufactured for sale. When all is said and done your THOW is a shelter and a shelter is a basic architectural structure or building that provides cover. Be sure your framework and subsequent skinning is built with as much structural integrity as possible. This means using strapping and braces where applicable. A lot of expenses can be spared when building your own home but this is an area where NO expense should be spared. Likewise know your roofing and the kind of wind and rain it is rated for. Water is dynamic in that it will find an opening no matter what the size and it will create a river of water flowing directly to that opening.
USE COMMON SENSE
When faced with severe weather know that fight or flight is your own responsibility. No one can make you wise up in a situation. Likewise you shouldn’t wait for a personal invite to leave if the weather may put you or others at risk. NO HOME IS WORTH STICKING AROUND FOR! We have all seen the news where a hurricane is pounding the shoreline and someone is refusing to leave their cottage because It is their “home” and they are gonna ride it out. That sort of talk is somewhat selfish in that it puts the homeowner at risk and potentially those sent later on to save said homeowner. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Robert McRill)
Because tornadoes and severe thunderstorms occur with little, if any, warning, minutes and even seconds can mean lives. In just five minutes, a tornado can move from two to four miles on the ground. An emergency plan will help you turn those precious minutes from what seems like a lifetime to a quick exercise in strategy and execution.
A solid plan should include:
- Evacuation routes
- 72-hour kits or BOBs (bug out bags)
- “Bug In” equipment (flashlights, water, first aid, communication, etc)
- NOAA weather alert radio and batteries
No matter how well your THOW is built it doesn’t stand a chance against mother nature. Even if you are strapped down and have perfect airflow you can still be tossed about by a hurricane or tornado. Whether or not you are built atop a mountain or away from creeks and rivers, floods and flash floods are highly possible. Don’t sit inside your tiny house to watch what is going on around you. Always known where your closest emergency shelter is whether it be the middle school in town operated by the Red Cross or just a concrete bathroom facility in a campground. Know where it is and be ready to evacuate to it.
KEEP INFORMATION ON FILE AND IN EASY REACH
In our case it took less then 4 hours to document the incident, file an insurance a claim, and speak to an insurance claim representative. Now just 72-hours later we are already scheduled for on-site repair? How? Teamwork! Instead of waiting for an adjuster to come out we asked the claims rep how we could help. We took nearly 60 photos of every part of the awning and structure including the serial numbers and labels and then emailed them to the claims rep. After speaking with them we also did our own measurements for replacement pieces and submitted those. If we hadn’t had our insurance policy number and the 1-800 claim number on quick file though none of the process would have gone as smoothly as it did making our tiny house again livable and safe.
Did we miss anything? What do you do to make sure you are ready for a fight or flight scenario in your THOW?