While staying fit is a great way to maintain a trim waistline and make us look more youthful, there’s more to it than just that. And I’m not talking about how exercise can lower our disease risk and lengthen our lives, although those are pretty big reasons to exercise, too. An often overlooked (until it’s needed) bonus to being fit is our ability to handle an emergency situation.
Consider this gloomy fact. According to research, over half the people who died in Hurricane Katrina were 65 or older. Many were trapped in their homes, and couldn’t get out of harm’s way fast enough. Since most RVers are retirees, many of us fall in this same age range. And while we hope our RV adventures will go off without a hitch, well, I think we’ve all been around long enough to know that our plans don’t always go as expected.
In order to assess your fitness for an emergency on the road, ask yourself the following:
1. Am I fit enough to walk several miles if need be?
Yes, your cell phone is your life-line, but cell service isn’t a guarantee. If you’re out of range, you might need to be able to walk to get cell service. Coach-Net is a great emergency assistance program, but they can’t help if you can’t call!
2. Am I strong enough to dig us out of an unexpected snowstorm or mudslide, move downed branches or rocks out of our path, or even climb out the RV window?
Physical strength is critical in many emergency situations. Look at what firefighters have to go through to get certified. They’re tested in all aspects of their fitness to ensure they’re prepared to handle emergencies. We should all hold ourselves just as accountable. Think about this – the emergency exit in your RV is likely a window. Could you use it as an exit? Your life may depend on it!
3. Am I alert enough to control the RV in the event of a blowout?
Being physically fit decreases your reaction time and improves your ability to coordinate your movements effectively. Controlling a large vehicle at high speeds when a tire blows takes quick thinking, smart movements, and physical strength. Coach-Net will help you change the tire. But you’ve got to be able to bring the rig to a stop – safely – first!
4. Am I flexible enough to get under the RV (or down on the floor) to make minor fixes?
Coach-Net has experts that can talk you through fixes on the road – but you have to be able to physically get to the control panels, plumbing lines, etc. to follow their instructions. Sometimes that means you’ll be disassembling the coach, for example, and reaching into hard-to-access spaces. Being able to do this could mean the difference between a ten-minute inconvenience, and waiting for service at an RV repair facility.
If you’re not confident on any of the questions above, don’t get discouraged. Instead, consider starting a fitness program! Anyone can improve their fitness, no matter what level you’re starting out at. As far as basic guidelines: shoot for brisk walking at least 150 minutes a week (check with your doctor first), and doing at least 2 full body strength workouts each week, with a little stretching every day. You can check out my website, The Fit RV.com (link: http://www.thefitrv.com) for ideas on how to maintain or improve your fitness while you’re on the road.
While it’s easy to take our safety for granted on the road (after all, we have Coach-Net!), being physically fit in an emergency situation can save lives, and is the perfect complement to a Coach-Net membership.
About the Author:
Stefany Adinaro, a Coach-Net member since 2013, is an RVing exercise specialist and the self-proclaimed “better half” of The Fit RV website she maintains with her husband James. While she loves her RV adventures, her favorite adventure is being “Mugga” to grandbabies Amelia and Eli. To learn more, check out The Fit RV website!
Laura P. Schulman, MD, MA said:
All good advice, if you’re able bodied to begin with. Many of us are not, but we don’t let this ruin our RV lives!
When I set out as a full-time RV nomad over a year ago, I knew my disabilities would necessitate making plans for the inevitable emergencies that come up on the road.
The first and most important thing was to choose a rig that does not require much physical work: a class B motorhome. The biggest challenge is dumping the tanks, since this does require kneeling, getting up and down off the ground, pushing and pulling, etc. Fortunately I only do this once a week!
I’m facing two major orthopedic surgeries soon, so I’ll have to take a break from my home on wheels and stay in a rehab hospital till I’m strong enough to hit the road again. I’m not thrilled with this, but it’s one of the realities of my disability, and so it goes.
This year I have sat out a blizzard, pretending my rig was an igloo. I managed to get a door open sufficiently to let my dog out. I had a blowout on a very dodgy fire road, and gently limped my wounded rig 26 miles to the nearest town. Didn’t even need new rims! And those were two of the tamer adventures I’ve had in the back country.
Having grown up in remote locations, I’m used to making sure that I’ve got enough canned and dehydrated food to last at least a week. I never hit the road without full tanks of gas and propane, plus alternate sources of heat and plenty of layers of appropriate clothing. I carry a minimum of eight gallon jugs of filtered drinking water, in addition to my tanks.
For breakdowns, I rely on Coach-Net, Good Sam, and On-Star. Since On-Star is satellite based, I can get help through them even when there’s no cell coverage….usually.
Since I mostly boondock in the wilderness, I know that there’s a risk I might be stranded or worse, since my mobility is limited.
But what is life for? There are risks to everything. It just depends on what makes life worth living. Would I rather sit in a sticks-and-bricks home, looking out the window and wishing I were someplace else, or am I willing to accept that my place of rest might be in a fragrant forest by a rushing stream, my fading twilight serenaded by the evening chorus of coyotes?