When it comes to planning a trip to the great outdoors, there’s no such thing as being too prepared. Whether you’re a beginner who values staying safe while camping or an adventurer by trade who needs a quick refresher, these 10 camping safety tips are for you!
Read on for a full list of tips and tricks for camping in all seasons and scenery. From what you should bring to what you should think about, this article has everything you need to stay safe while camping.
Camping may come in many forms, with varying considerations, but everything has its basics. No matter the circumstances, there are three main types of camping safety considerations that you always need to be thinking of.
1. Personal Safety
Any crisis can be managed in the wild when your body is kept healthy and protected.
In terms of the elements, that means regular application of sunscreen. Even if you’re camping in the winter.
Keeping yourself hydrated is also super important! No camping trip should begin without a full 1L water bottle per person. And either access to clean water or purifying devices so it can be refilled at least 4 times a day.
A first aid kit is an essential packing item. Its contents can vary, but you’ll always want band-aids, Benadryl, disinfectant, and a whistle in there.
2. Campsite Safety
Your arrival at the campsite will be a whirlwind of activity, with moving parts and flying thoughts abound. So, here are some of the first things you’ll want to do to keep camping safety in mind.
First, scan your environment for any potential dangers. Maybe a branch that looks old or is splintering, animal and insect nests that are in the surrounding areas, or even holes and tripping hazards.
Next, ensure the campsite has everything you need to set up your camp properly and comfortably. This will change depending on your camping type. Generally, you’re looking for large flat ground, good fire pits, and sturdy trees.
Now, you’ll want to choose your various storage and disposal locations and set everything up before it gets dark. A complete mental map of your site is vital for camping safety.
For disposing of the dishwashing water and your own bodily waste (if there isn’t a location already provided), pick an area 200ft from your campsite and any natural water sources. Here is where you’ll go to dig a hole and dump your waste, refilling it and picking a new spot each time.
For meals and food waste storage, you can keep it in a sealed food barrel or make a bear hang.
To make a bear hang, choose a big tree 200ft from your campsite (and on the opposite side of the disposal area). Fill one of your packs with everything with a scent (including toothpaste and deodorant) and hang it at least 6 ft off the ground and 3ft from the trunk.
3. Never Be Truly Alone
Even in remote conditions, you should never go completely alone on a camping trip.
Before you leave, give a friend your itinerary and full depictions of your gear. Or check to see if the park you’re going to has cell reception and, if not, look into getting a satellite phone.
The above camping safety rules still apply to people traveling in groups or with family. But you’ll also want to consider implementing a buddy system.
When on the campsite, your buddy is the person you keep an eye on. And, if either of you wants to venture into the surrounding forest, your buddy is who you go with. That includes washroom breaks, dumping food waste, and even a simple walk in the woods.
Ok, now that you have a good grasp of the fundamentals, it’s time to get into the who, what, and where of camping safety. With a little bit of research, you’ll be well on your way!
4. Know WHO You’re Sharing the Land With
Don’t think because you’re off the grid that, you’re alone! Nature is filled with life and beautiful creatures that should be respected. So, before you dive into it, it’s important to familiarize yourself with every aspect of the ecosystem.
Starting with the different types of animals, plants, fungi, and insects that are commonly found in that park. Especially how to spot the difference between ones that are more dangerous than others.
And what life cycle they will be in when you arrive. Animals in mating season and baby season should be handled more carefully than at other times.
Luckily, there’s a perfect resource for this camping safety information that you can read more about below.
5. Know WHERE You’re Camping: Park-Specific Safety
Choosing your park is a big decision, and one of your best resources will be that park’s website.
Here you’ll find maps, information about the wildlife, any warnings regarding the weather, how to read and spot the park signs, and what kind of terrain to prepare for.
The website will also tell you what you’ll need for your check-in at the ranger station upon arrival. Even if it’s not required, if it’s your first time in the area, visiting the ranger is a great opportunity to gain firsthand knowledge of the park before you enter.
6. Know WHEN You’re Camping: Seasonal Safety
Depending on where in the world you’re camping, the dangers of the season will vary. Here you’ll find camping safety tips for the three most common: hot, cold, and a combination of the two.
In the Heat
Even in summer, mornings and nights can get cold. Layered clothing will be your best protection from shifting temperatures.
Start with sweat-wicking materials and finish with a windbreaker or shell so you don’t overheat. As the day warms, remove the layers, and put them back on as it cools again.
If you or someone in your party is suffering from heatstroke, supply water very slowly but steadily throughout their recovery.
In the Cold
In winter, layering is even more important. Between your sweat-wicking first layer and your winter jacket, you’ll want at least two items to keep in the warmth.
Places like your hands, feet, and head will get cold the fastest. So wearing the right gloves, a sweat-wicking undersock, and a skullcap are essential for camping safety.
To prevent you or someone in your party from getting hypothermia, increase your water and calorie intake to keep your body warm from the inside.
In split seasons or any time of year in the mountains, temperature shifts and weather conditions will be even more severe. To be safe, you should be prepared for both of the above conditions. And you’ll want to be fast about taking your layers on and off.
You should always try to keep your body from getting too hot or cold.
Altitude changes in the mountains can also affect your health. Drinking lots of water and taking your time ascending the mountain will help prevent any altitude sickness symptoms.
7. Know HOW You’re Camping
Whether you’re packing a tent, camper, or RV, the different amenities provided by each will impact your camping safety tips.
When it comes to RV or campground camping, you’ll want to check what kind of washrooms they have, whether they can fit your vehicle, and where water and gas hook-ups are.
For backcountry camping, you’ll also have to consider the size of the campsites and if there is a pre-dug washroom. Depending on the length of your trip, you should also know where to locate water sources and access point check-ins for supplies.
These may not always apply to your camping adventure, but you will want to be prepared when they do.
8. Camping with a Pet
Our furry friends love the outdoors even more than we do. And, if you’re bringing your pet along, here’s how you can keep them safe.
Ensuring your pet stays hydrated is the first step toward pet camping safety. A good rule of thumb is to give them water when drinking it yourself.
Upgrading to a well-padded, sturdy harness will help prevent injury when leading and controlling your pet. This is especially true in terrain with rushing water or lots of cliffs and drop-offs.
In case of emergencies, you should have the up-to-date tags on your dog’s collar and a picture of them ready before you leave.
Finally, going through a trial run day trip or overnight sleepover in the backyard is good preparation for both you and your animal.
9. Cooking with a Gas Stove
Having a gas stove for emergencies is generally good for camping safety. You never know how hard it will be to keep a fire going. But you should never use your stove in an enclosure. At the risk of suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning.
The best use practice would be under a nicely angled structure, a good distance from the fire, to keep most of the elements out and fresh air abundant.
10. Extreme Weather
You will encounter lots of different weather on a camping trip. Some are more dangerous than others. But there are always camping safety tips you can use to keep safe.
- Fire: always watch for fire bans in your park
- Flood: floods can happen fast, so always try to sleep on higher ground
- Wind: tie everything down and watch for falling trees in heavy winds
- Lightening: never cross open space, neither lakes nor fields, during a lightning storm
Wrapping Up Camping Safety
Spending time in nature is one of life’s most rewarding experiences, so long as you remember to do so safely! These 10 tips for staying safe while camping are your general guidelines for all camping in all its forms.
Read these Top 25 Tips for Tent Camping for more tent-specific safety tips and tricks.
- About the Author
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After years of camping in the Canadian wilderness and finishing her Bachelor of Communication Studies, Liv Headley brought her passions together through the Apple Pie Media platform.
Armed with stories under open skies, at the tops of mountains, and from as young as eight years old. When it comes to picking the right camping spots, packing the best gear, and cooking the most delicious food, Liv’s got the expertise to make planning your trip easy!
Liv can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org