Are Travel Trailers Safe in Lightning?

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Assuming the travel trailer is built with an aluminum frame then yes, it is safe in lightning. This is due to what is called the Faraday Cage effect. Essentially if your travel trailer has a metal (aluminum or steel) frame than the metal forms a cage around you and the lightning goes around the RV and not into it.

If you would like to learn more about a Faraday cage Wikipedia has an excellent entry on them. You can check it out here.

Even if your RV is made of fiberglass as long as the frame is steel or aluminum you are safe. Popups or tents or if your RV frame is wood, you are not safe. If you are in one of these and you know a storm is coming, seek safe shelter immediately.

Another safety tip if you know a big storm is coming is to unplug your camper from shore power. A lightning strike anywhere near your shore power can potentially create a power surge that can fry onboard electronics such as TV, radios, computers, etc.

Word of Caution: There are two types of lightning hits that can occur to your RV, an indirect or direct hit. An indirect hit happens when the area around your RV, such as the RV park or local utility lines that feed the park are hit. This results in a surge of voltage entering your RV via the shore power hook up. Often time your electronic equipment is damaged due to the electrical surge. To protect again the electrical surge we recommend one of these best RV surge protectors. A direct hit is when the RV is hit directly by lightning. This is usually a very serious hit that will take out electronics, affect the electrical system, possibly start a fire and can sometimes lead to loss of life. A direct hit is hard to avoid or protect against. Though direct hits are rare when they do happen it can be catastrophic.

Let’s answer some related questions.

Are pop up campers safe in lightning?

A pop-up camper does not have a metal frame around it so the Faraday cage effect won’t protect you from lightning. If the pop-up camper is your only option for shelter than take steps to diminish the chances of being struck by lightning. Take these safety steps:

  • Do not set-up near metal structures
  • Do not set-up near power lines or other objects that might attract lightning
  • Do not set-up on a hill, in a large clearing, or any tall trees.
  • If you are inside your pop up camper during the lightning storm avoid touching any part of the metal frame.
  • Stay weather aware

Here some lightning statistics I found online.

  • Odd of getting hit by lightning in a single year is 1 in 700,000
  • Using an umbrella during a storm slightly ups your odds of getting struck
  • If your hair stands on end during a storm, that is not a good sign. It means a positive charge is accumulating around you and your chance of being hit by lightning are now very high.
  • Lightning can strike the same place more than once