Camping is one of the best ways to spend your family vacation. Especially in summer months when you can go outdoors, hiking, swimming and enjoying nature. Don’t let your camping adventures get ruined with a dangerous accident or encounter with wildlife. Here are some of the most important camping safety tips you should know before you head out into the wild.
We’ve all heard of the Rule Of 3’s. Us humans can survive about 3 minutes without oxygen, 3 hours without shelter, 3 days without water, and 3 weeks without food. After that you’re toast. When you head out on your camping adventure there are simple precautions you can take to make sure everyone in your family comes back home safe and healthy.
Plan ahead for campsite safety
Do your research. Chose a safe campground and then check again before you leave. Are there any current fire dangers? What is the weather forecast? Have any bears or cougars been spotted in the campground recently?
Pack a first aid and emergency kit
Be prepared for cuts, bee or plant stings, insect bites and allergic reactions. Put together a wilderness first aid kit to take camping.
You should have the following in your wilderness first aid kit:
- bug spray and insect repellents
- pain relievers
- sterilized water packets for cleaning wounds
- snake-bite kit
- cold pack
Put the following in your emergency kit:
- whistle and flashlight for each member of your party,
- small Swiss Army knife,
- magnifying glass
- emergency blanket
- mirror. A mirror can
- be helpful when signaling for help. Some people also use a CD. If you can afford
- them, a pair of night-vision goggles can also be helpful in an emergency
Arrive at the campground early
Arriving early, with ample daylight, allows you to examine the entire campsite and set up your tent while there’s still plenty of light. Be on the lookout for sharp objects, broken glass, ant nests, branches, poison ivy, hazardous terrain, and bees.
Pitch your tent on a safe spot. Try to pitch your tent on elevated ground so it doesn’t flood in case of rain. To keep bugs out, make sure you close your tent immediately upon entering and leaving.
Have a safety talk
Go over all safety issues with your camping party. Make sure everyone is aware of any poisonous plants or wild animals in the area. Be sure that children understand that they should never drink from any stream or river, regardless of how clean it may look. Finally, issue each member of your family with a whistle for emergency use only.
Be fire safe
Make sure there are no current fire restrictions before building any fire, and don’t build a fire if there are strong winds. Make sure your tent is flame-resistant and keep it at a safe distance from the campfire.
When you do build a fire, keep it in the fire ring, and make sure there are no flammable items near the fire. Do not use heating devices or candles inside the tent.
Never leave your campfire unattended and keep the area clear of leaves and twigs.Before going to bed, make sure the campfire is property put out by dousing it with water.
other wild animals.
How to stay safe in a tent
Never bring fuel-burning lanterns or heaters into a tent. They give off carbon monoxide which is poisoning and, without enough ventilation, deadly.
Do not bring food or toiletry items like toothpaste into the tent at night. It can attract bears. Always leave these items in your car.
Pack all your food in a bear canister or bear bag far away from your tent. Bear canisters are also great for keeping away raccoons and rodents.
Make sure you are warm enough. Hypothermia is a concern even if you are camping in the middle of the summer. Check out these tips on how to stay warm in a tent.
The 5 W’s of a safe campsite
The five factors include: wind, water, widowmakers, wood, and wildlife. These factors are referred to as the “5 W’s.”
Les Stroud ( a.k.a. “Survivorman”) calls them “The Five W’s” and considers them so important that he talks about them in many, if not most, of his episodes.
Wild animals have acute senses of smell so make sure you keep your campsite clean and free of food or garbage which might attract them. It is best to store all food, garbage, and any strong-smelling items such as soap or toothpaste, in bear-resistant containers or your vehicle.
Keep your sleeping bag and tent completely free of food and food odors and set up your cooking and eating area at least 100 yards from your tent. Do not go to sleep in the same clothing you cooked in, as even the cooking smells can attract bears and wild life.
You always want to make sure that you pick a campsite that is close to water. You will want to do this so that when it’s your turn to haul water back to the campsite, you don’t wear yourself out. Plus, if you are camping near water for recreation, camping near the water’s edge will allow you to keep a better eye on the youngsters if they decide to go swimming.
Always bring enough water with you on your trip that everyone will have enough for drinking, cooking and washing up for the entire trip.
Remember at the first of this article when it was mentioned that choosing the right campsite could actually save your life….well, this is where that comes in. Without going into the biology too much, when a tree dies, the fibers in the limbs break down and the limbs can break off fairly easily after time. A gust of wind, heavy rain or even too much snow accumulation can cause these limbs to break off and come crashing to the ground.
Suffice it to say, nobody wants themselves or their families in a tent underneath a dead, rotted and heavy branch when they fall. Always pay close attention to your surroundings when choosing your campsite and make sure you are not camping near areas where dead trees are prevalent, or an area where rock-slides could potentially occur.
You’ll need wood to fuel your fire . Small twigs, medium sized branches, and larger logs are needed. It’s a good idea to carry a small hatchet and a foldable saw with you, that way you have options. Always bring extra firewood with you on your camping trip.
Check and keep checking the weather forecast. Don’t take this lightly. The number one cause of death in the outdoors is exposure, usually to cold, wet and/or windy weather.
“Does it look like rain is coming?” If so, put in extra effort to make your tent water-tight. If it is clear skies and you’re in a desert, rain cover will not be very important like it would in a jungle. Keep in mind while the desert is hot during the day, it can become very cold at night because there is usually no cloud cover.
While it may seem like attention to safety takes the fun out of camping, the reality is that staying safe helps ensure that your camping vacation is a fun time for the whole family. Nobody wants their vacation spoilt by an accident or unpleasant incident so stay safe and have fun.