Is Camping dangerous? Tips on how to stay safe camping

Are you about to go camping for the first time?

Are you planning on going camping in the backcountry and worried something might happen?

Camping is a fun way to get family and friends together to enjoy the outdoors. Unfortunately, there can be some danger involved. These dangers can be minimized by taking precautions and some preparation. 

This article we’ll discuss how to reduce the chances of something happening and be safe camping

Tips on how to be safe camping

Falling asleep driving

Falling asleep at the wheel is clearly dangerous. Going camping usually involves driving long distances. This can lead to fatigue.

Especially, when driving down straight highways that go on for miles.

To avoid falling asleep whilst driving, make sure you take regular breaks.  If you driving with someone else take turns to drive.

I have found when becoming drowsy when driving is to have a power nap, it works a treat.

It involves pulling over somewhere safe and having a short sleep for 15-12 minutes.

Keep an Eye on the Weather

Keep an eye out on weather forecasts before you depart and during the trip.

Be alert for forest fires and sudden weather changes, particularly storms and cyclones.

Be prepared to evacuate if necessary. Take extra supplies in case you get stranded by sudden weather changes.

If you are going camping in winter, wearing and taking warm clothes is essential.

Wearing thermal clothing will help you warm. If comfortable wear layers of clothing.

Recommend wearing a beanie to prevent body heat escaping and also woolen socks.

For more information, we have put together an article on How to keep warm Camping in Winter.

Don’t forget Sun protection

Protecting your skin is essential. If it’s hot wear a wide-brimmed hat and clothes to protect yourself from the heat and getting sunstroke.

Proper UV sunglasses are another must-have to keep your eyes protected from the harsh rays.

Too much heat and dehydration can lead to heatstroke which is life-threatening.

Keep Hydrated

Before you go check if the campsite provides fresh water for drinking.

If there is no water supply take a sufficient amount of water. It’s better to take more than less.

If you arrive at the campsite and the water looks suspect the easiest way is to boil the water, so long as you have a stove with plenty of fuel for cooking.

Boiling for 3 minutes will kill all parasites and make it safe to drink (allow for a full three minutes if over 6,500 feet).

Other ways to purify water listed below

  • Water filter. These are popular because they’re lightweight, but require either squeezing or pumping to work, which can be time-consuming or annoying.
  • Steri-pen. This method utilizes UV light to purify, and works quickly: typically one minute or less to treat water.
  • Chlorine pills. Chlorine tablets and pills are a very lightweight option but will require some wait-time, usually 30 minutes before it’s ready to drink.

Check your Equipment

Driven a few hours to get to your destination only to realize your equipment is faulty or you have left behind the tent.

So before you leave home check your equipment, making sure equipment is in good working order.

If you have purchased new equipment, like a tent. Make sure you tent it up in the back garden. Look for broken poles or tears in the tent.

If you have time, get out the garden hose and spray water over it. Checking the inside for any leaks. Once done, pack the tent away completely dry.

Remember to take your First Aid Kit

First aid kits act as an insurance policy. It is only when you need it that you bring it out.

Basic First aid kit should include the following items

  • plasters in a variety of different sizes and shapes
  • small, medium and large sterile gauze dressings
  • at least 2 sterile eye dressings
  • triangular bandages
  • crêpe rolled bandages  (great for use as splint or snake bites).
  • safety pins
  • disposable sterile gloves
  • tweezers  (splinter removal)
  • scissors
  • alcohol-free cleansing wipes
  • sticky tape
  • thermometer (preferably digital)
  • skin rash creams, such as hydrocortisone or calendula
  • cream or spray to relieve insect bites and stings
  • antiseptic cream
  • painkillers such as paracetamol (or infant paracetamol for children), aspirin (not to be given to children under 16), or ibuprofen
  • antihistamine cream or tablets
  • distilled water for cleaning wounds
  • eyewash and eye bath

Gas Safety

Don’t gas or burn yourself by using gas stoves, lanterns, or fuel burners to heat your tent.

Be safe and never cook or place a heater inside a tent or enclosed camping spaces.

The reason for this advice is gas heaters when burning release carbon monoxide which can cause a build-up in a confined space (like a tent).

Too much can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning which can lead to death or irreversible brain damage.

how to be safe camping

Keep an Eye Out for Water

It only takes 20 seconds for someone to drown. Keep an eye out when there is water. Supervise children, especially near water and in areas with potentially dangerous wildlife.

Look up before you pitch your tent

Avoid camping directly under large trees. When pitching your tent, remember to look up to ensure there aren’t any loose, dead, or overhanging tree limbs.

Secondly, don’t pitch your tent in a dry river bed. It just needs heavy rain upstream for you to be swamped by fast-rising water. This can be dangerous.

Fire Danger

Campfire safety is important, each year a number of adults and children are admitted to hospital burns unit from campfire related burns.

Top 5 Campfire Rules

  1. Positioning – Campfires should be positioned in cleared areas, where there are no overhanging branches, minimal grass, and scrub. Ensure the campfire is a safe distance from tents, and that any other camping equipment is stored well away from it – especially flammable items such as gas cylinders and fuel cans.
  2. Building – Where possible use a fireplace such as a barbeque pit or build a fire pit and surround it with large rocks. When selecting rocks, be aware that heated river or creek stones may shatter if cooled quickly. Ensure the fire stays a controllable size.
  3. Starting – Start your campfire using appropriate ignition source and firelighter, paper, and small kindling. Never use any kind of flammable liquids (such as petrol) on fire to get it started.
  4. Extinguishing – Put your campfire out with water when you have finished with it. Use the water from your washing up to put your campfire out.
  5. Monitoring – Never leave unattended. Any campfire left unattended for any period of time, particularly overnight, should be extinguished by using a bucket of water.
camp fire rules

Campfires should not be used as a rubbish incinerator; fire doesn’t destroy aluminum foil, and plastics release toxic gases when burned.

Deadwood provides valuable habitat for native animals, don’t break branches or collect fallen timber for fires.

Bugs and Insects 

One of the greatest dangers is insects. Not only are the bites a nuisance-they can carry diseases and be poisonous.

To avoid being bitten make sure you take and apply insect repellent.

Be careful of Native animals

Feeding native animals can damage their health and make them dependent on campers for food.

Be sure to store food and rubbish in secure containers and away from animals.

If you camping in a snake country keep an eye out for snakes.

Keep away from long grass, that includes walking through it.

If you do come across a native animal such as a bear, keep calm, keep your distance, and avoid any confrontation.

Keep kids clear of any danger, picking them up if necessary. For more information on Staying Safe Around Bears.

Don’t forget basic hygiene

Going camping doesn’t mean you stop washing your hands and cleaning your teeth.

To avoid getting sick, continue with basic hygiene such as washing hands before every meal, cleaning teeth, and using the toilet.

Checklist for Campers 

Below is a list of items to help you to be safe camping.

  • Waterproof camping tent, poles, pegs and mallet
  • Fuel stove, fuel supply, and waterproof matches
  • Bags for rubbish and storage
  • Drinking water
  • Sufficient non-perishable food and other supplies
  • Cooking utensils
  • Sleeping bag and mat, or swag or other bedding
  • Suitable clothing and sturdy shoes
  • Headlamp
  • Wet weather gear
  • Insect repellent
  • Hats and sunscreen
  • Suitable first-aid kit
  • Binoculars and camera
  • Map, brochure and compass
  • Torch for walking at night
  • Broadcast radio (for weather forecasts) and spare batteries
  • 2-way radio and extra fuel (if camping in remote places)
  •  Esky, Esky Cooler, Icebox. We have written an article on how to keep you food cool for days

Final Thoughts

By planning your trip and taking precautions whilst you are away your trip should turn out to be fun and relaxing.

Are there any tips we have missed on how to be safe camping? If you have any tips please leave comments below

Further Information

If you have enjoyed this article, you will enjoy our other articles.

Below are some of our other gear reviews and popular resources;

How to choose Sleeping Bag for Trekking or Hiking

The Best Trekking/Hiking Poles

How to Choose Trekking Poles (with tutorials)

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