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How to camp in the Midwest safely during potentially severe weather

Posted at 6:35 PM, May 30, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-30 19:35:35-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — With Memorial Day Weekend comes the unofficial start of summer, but also the chance for summer storms.

Still, the threat of severe weather doesn't bother campers like Charles and Anna Holcomb. Their family is camping for the second season with the camper — it's their way of "unplugging," or going off the grid without being too far from home.

"There's no laundry. There's no dishes, pulling at you. You just can ride your bikes, have a picnic, go fishing, all the fun outdoorsy things," Anna said.

Safety is still at the forefront of this adventurous family's mind.

"Other than having flashlights, and I guess if we have severe enough weather, all the bathrooms are usually tornado shelters in super severe weather," Anna said.

Conservation Officer Brian Arp says the biggest mistake he sees campers make is not having a backup plan in place.

"Being prepared to where you were gonna go, along those lines: know the park, know the state, the city, and the county that you're in. So when that weather alert goes off on your phone, you know where it's gonna come, approximately," Arp said.

Arp says it's important to have a solid understanding of where you're going.

"Talk to the park superintendent, park employees, and everything like that to see where storm shelters are at. If there's a plan in place for severe weather or anything like that. Also, the kit you have in your house, that you would have during a severe thunderstorm, take that with you. Flashlights, Band-Aids, extra blankets," Arp said.

If you can, try to avoid setting up camp near large trees. Arp says if you're in danger, go immediately to safety and don't worry about your belongings. Objects can be replaced, and it's the people that matter. After all, being with family is the purpose for the Holcombs' trips.

"I have some great memories from camping. I hope the kids do too; have a lot of fun, learn how to work together, disconnect and relax," Anna said.

Arp says it's also important to keep your phones charged if you don't have access to a radio so you can track the weather from apps on your phone.

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