Updated: Sep 10, 2019
Camping is a great way to get outside and adventure. It allows us to emerge from our busy lives, slow down, breathe in some fresh air, and live a little more simply (even if it’s just for a night or two). Camping helps us get in touch with parts of our lives that often get overlooked, like our need to connect with nature or get away from the noise of the city. In short, for many of us, camping is something that helps us thrive.
As with any adventure, though, camping also comes with some risks. But with a bit of thought and planning, it can stay fun and relaxed and you can be well-equipped if something unexpected or unwanted happens. Some of the most common ways you can be negatively impacted on a camping trip is through injuries and illness or exposure to the elements.
Injuries & Illness
Burns - There are plenty of open flames at a campsite. Whether it’s a small cooking stove or a fire to roast marshmallows on, there is the chance that someone might get accidentally burned.
Minor injuries - Small cuts, bruises, and sprains happen occasionally in the outdoors, especially if the terrain is unfamiliar or if you decide to take a walk or a hike.
Allergies - It may not seem obvious or necessary to communicate allergies or dietary restrictions to the rest of your group, but failing to do so could make a fun weekend trip uncomfortable or even dangerous.
Exposure to the Elements
Depending on the location and season, you will most likely be dealing with either sun or rain. It’s important to have protection from either one, with ways to stay dry in a downpour (whether inside a tent, under a tarpaulin covering, or even inside a car) and also the supplies to keep from getting burned by the sun or dehydrated.
The beauty of the outdoors also means that we may come into contact with all kinds of creatures and plants that we don’t necessarily normally interact with. And sometimes that interaction can be fairly uncomfortable.
So what can we do to mitigate these risks? It just take a little preparation, thoughtfulness, and learning from our past experiences.
Prepare Before You Go
Research your destination. Make sure you know the location, whether water is provided or easily accessible and whether or not that water is clean enough to drink.
Bring medical supplies and make sure you know how to use them. A simple first aid kit can may provide everything you need to address challenges.
Good equipment for camping is essential. Make sure you have enough tents and that they are in good enough shape to protect you from various types of weather. Especially if it’s been awhile since your last camping trip, it’s always a good idea to set up your tent before you go, ensuring that all the necessary pieces are included and that there isn’t serious damage or wear and tear. This also includes your wardrobe. Even if it’s supposed to be hot, bring a few things that will keep you warm in case things are different than you expect.
Plan food that is in line with everyone's dietary restrictions, and try to have food that can be prepared multiple ways (or requires no preparation) in case circumstances mean that the stove or fire you planned on cooking with isn't available.
While You’re There
Put fire safety principles into practice by ensuring all campfires are no less than 4.5 meters away from anything flammable, including tents and trees. It’s also important to be very careful when using flammable fire starters.
Be aware of the sun and make sure you are protected.
Make sure you’re drinking enough water.
Be aware and respectful of wildlife. Sometimes we forget how wild animals can be. Whether it’s storing your food to keep bears or monkeys from getting in (depending on the continent, of course) or keeping a safe distance from even the most docile of creatures, it’s important to treat wildlife with the respect they are due.
We’ve all made mistakes in not being prepared enough and, sometimes, you won’t even realize you’re unprepared until you’re faced with a situation you don’t expect. Record these experiences so that you’re less likely to make the same mistake twice.
Have a permanent camping list that you use every time you take a trip and update as things come to mind. This means that lessons learned from the trip before aren’t forgotten and makes your packing experience much less stressful.
For many of us, enjoying the outdoors is an important part of living life to the fullest. Keep it a source of joy in your life by ensuring you are prepared in case of the unexpected.