We all know that fun is a high priority when exploring the great outdoors, but number one on everyone’s minds should be safety. When you are camping and driving through Mother Nature’s beauty, one mishap and your entire trip can be ruined.
Since that is the last thing you want to happen, read on for our camping safety tips. With this knowledge always in the back of your mind, you can have a safe, fun, and memorable trip.
Research Where You are Going
It’s tough to know what to bring on your camping trip if you know very little about your destination. Do some research beyond your campground and the attractions you want to hit. Such as, what will the weather forecast be? Will you be staying near a body of water? Or in a more arid climate? The gear you’ll need to bring in desert-like conditions is much different than the gear you’ll need near the ocean.
What critters will you likely encounter? Chances are, mosquitos will be present in more humid conditions. Or perhaps bears? Or both? In that case, adequate repellent to both will be needed…just in case.
Likewise for the Weather
Once you’ve got the forecast worked out, plan for it with plenty of protection, including your clothing. Dressing in layers is always a good idea no matter where you go outdoors. Few things can ruin your adventure quicker than a downpour when you don’t have rain gear. Whether or not the forecast calls for it, err on the side of it raining at least once. Something as common as a thunderstorm can make you very vulnerable if you’re not prepared.
Bring a First Aid Kit
This one is non-negotiable. You absolutely will need it sooner or later. When you face Mother Nature, oftentimes there’s not much you can control, so you should be prepared if something goes wrong. You can either purchase a ready-made first aid kit or build your own. But whatever you do, make sure the following is included:
- Gauze pads
- Antibacterial ointment
- Antiseptic wipes
- Safety pins
- Aspirin or ibuprofen
- Cotton swabs
- Snake bite kit
- Small pair of scissors
- Sterile compress
- EpiPen (if someone in your party has an allergy)
Choose How You’ll Camp
Camping in a tent is (for obvious reasons) much different than camping in an RV, yurt, or cabin. So, you should pack accordingly. For example, if you are camping with someone who is elderly or who has medical issues, tent camping may not be a good idea. You’ll want more comfortable accommodations. That’s where cabins and RVs come in handy. It’s also easy to stay warm and dry when weather conditions don’t cooperate, not to mention affording extra space to stretch out.
Practice Fire Safety
A good camping trip is nothing without at least one night in front of an outdoor fire, having drinks, telling stories, and/or roasting marshmallows for some classic s’mores. But with fire comes responsibility, and knowing how to safely start, control, and put out one is of utmost importance.
Some ways to ensure that your fire is safe are to be aware of the following:
- Know the direction of the wind
- Keep all objects, including surrounding trees, shrubs, and tents/RVs at least 15 feet away
- Never leave a fire unattended
- Make sure the fire is completely out before you leave it, even smoking embers
- Keep a water bucket near the fire
Practice Sun Safety
When you spend any amount of time outdoors, whether or not the sun is out, you’ll need protection from it. Yes, you CAN get sunburn on a cloudy day! UV rays are that strong. A sunburn is enough to destroy a nice camping trip, and you’’ want to protect everyone in your group from both the short and long-term effects of the sun.
The middle of the day is when the sun is at its most intense, so follow these guidelines:
- Apply sunscreen about 30 minutes before you head out. Reapply throughout the day as long as you’re outside
- Wear a hat, preferably with a wide brim that covers your face, ears, and neck as much as possible
- Wear clothing that covers the rest of your body from UV rays
- Take advantage of the shade whenever possible
Store Your Food Properly
This is especially important when you are camping near wildlife. It’s also something most people don’t think about. But another big reason is to avoid food-borne illnesses. Just as you would at home, leaving food out for more than an hour that should be refrigerated is a NO-NO.
Keep perishable food in an insulated cooler or your RV/cabin’s refrigerator. And do not mix raw and cooked food. Use all safety precautions regarding cleanliness you would at home.
Regarding wildlife – be sure to remove all food from picnic tables and other outside surfaces as soon as you are done. Do NOT keep food in your tent. Instead, store food in your car, a well-elevated bear-proof container, or locked in your RV/cabin.
Don’t Mess with the Wildlife
Just don’t! No matter how cute or intriguing they are. We’ve all seen the headlines about bear, buffalo, moose attacks, and the like. Don’t be that person. Stay well away from all wildlife, and use that zoom feature on your camera if you must take a picture.
Learn Local Plants
Familiarize yourself with poisonous plants if you’re likely to encounter any during your trip. A little research goes a long way in protecting yourself from exposure. This is especially true if you plan to go hiking with kids. Know the plants that are out there and what you’ll need to steer clear of. This is a great way to get them involved in arming them with knowledge, as well.
Bring a (Paper) Map
As much as we’ve come to rely on our GPS systems, many outdoor areas still lack adequate cell phone service, and rightfully so. Regardless of where you go, bring a paper map of the areas you’ll be visiting. There’s bound to be a time when you’ll be glad you did.
Always Be on Alert
A major part of camping is about the downtime you need – it’s about relaxing and enjoying yourself. But as you do so, always keep a part of your brain tuned in to your surroundings. You are in the wild outdoors, after all! Stay alert to what’s going on around you, and also listen to your body. If you overdo it on indulgences, you’ll pay the price in a short time.
Be Sure to Have FUN
It’s a given, but you needn’t be stressed about keeping the above in mind. After a short while, these safety tips should become second nature to you and everyone in your crew. So relax and have fun while staying safe!