7 General Safety Tips for Camping Solo
How to Camp Safely
Camping in the wilderness can be a ton of fun, and a great way to get back to nature and explore the natural world around you. If you're camping for the first time, you may be a little nervous about what to pack and how to prepare. It can also be difficult knowing how to remain safe during your trip. Put your safety first so you can have a good time camping.
Wear bug repellant, sunscreen and sunglasses.Mosquitoes, ticks, and other insects can cause harmful diseases. Constant exposure to sunlight can cause severe sunburn, which can later lead to skin issues. Use a broad-spectrum (against UVA and UVB rays) sunscreen and lipscreen with at least SPF 15. Seek shade, especially during midday hours, when the sun’s rays are strongest.
- Be sure to follow directions on the package when applying bug repellant. Check for ticks daily, and if spotted, remove them immediately. Wear long sleeves, pants, and other light-colored clothing to help prevent insect bites. Avoid perfumes or colognes- these can attract stinging insects. If you are approached by a stinging insect, do not wave wildly and swat blindly. This will only anger them and make the situation worse. Instead, use a gentle pushing or brushing motion to make them go away.
- Wear sunglasses for extra protection from sunlight. The sun's harsh glare, which comes from it reflecting off surfaces such as water, boulders and snow, can cause eye damage if looked at for too long.
- Put on sunscreen no matter the season. It doesn't matter how warm it is; you can still get sunburn in subfreezing temperatures. Sunlight is still harmful even if it is cloudy or snowing, it actually intensifies the sun rays.
Bring a first aid kit.In case of an emergency, first aid supplies can make a gigantic difference. Personalize your kit to meet your needs, activities and situations. What supplies to include and how much of each item should be based upon the needs of the camping trip and the probability of each situation that would require a first aid kit. Some of the recommended supplies include:
- Personal medications, gauze, latex gloves, antiseptic wipes, cotton swabs, tweezers, tissues, sterile compresses, etc. There are many more options than this, however.
- Learn basic first aid as well. Know how to identify and treat injuries and illnesses. Learn how to identify the symptoms of heat exhaustion, heat stroke, hypothermia, dehydration and other illnesses, and know how to treat them. If necessary, take a first aid or CPR class.
- Keep your materials in a well marked, durable, waterproof container. Make sure to keep the contents organized, and know how to use everything in the kit.
- Along with your first aid kit, bring emergency supplies. These include, but are not limited to: a map, compass, flashlight, knife, waterproof fire starter, whistle, warm clothing, high energy food, water, and insect protection.
Always be ready for the unexpected.Before you leave, check the weather forecast, learn about security at your camp location, and tell family and friends your plans, such as where you intend to go, and when you plan on coming back.
- Be sure to bring along a supply kit that includes a first-aid kit, compass or GPS, map, flashlight, blankets, batteries, food, water, clothes, and medications
- Know who to contact at the camp to report issues that may come up, and who to contact in case of an emergency. Always have a back up plan. When you return home, check for ticks, skin rashes or sunburn, dehydration, and other issues.
Bring safe food and water.Take healthy food along with you when you go camping. Eating contaminated food and drinking contaminated water can increase the risk of developing certain infectious diseases caused by germs, and can make you become seriously ill. This can be very dangerous if you are camping in an isolated area.To keep your food and water safe:
- Pack foods in tight, waterproof bags or containers. Keep them in an insulated cooler if needed.
- Wash hands and surfaces often. Use hand sanitizer if water is not available.
- Separate raw foods from cooked foods.
- Cook foods to proper (correct) temperatures.
- Chill foods when needed as to keep them from spoiling.
Get vaccinated if needed.Chances are, if you're traveling close to home, you'll already have any needed inoculations. However, if you're planning a trip abroad, getting vaccinated can help protect against diseases you're not typically exposed to. You can be exposed to many different illnesses outside, and camping may make you more vulnerable to them.
- Check with your doctor or nurse to see if you've had all of the recommended vaccines, and if it is appropriate to get vaccinated right now. He/she may recommend shots for tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), meningitis, and/or hepatitis A, depending on your medical history, destination, and other factors.
Staying Safe While Camping
Stay away from wild animals.Some wild animals carry diseases that are dangerous to people. Avoid touching, feeding, and getting near wild animals. Watch from a distance. Keep foods stored in sealed containers and out of the reach of animals.
- Wild animals may look cute and harmless, but they are very unpredictable and can be very territorial and protective. Always be alert and aware of your surroundings. In most cases, animals are more afraid of you than you are of them, and will run away.
- Do not attempt to feed wild animals. Most injuries occur when people try to feed them. Keep your food safely stored away, out of the reach of animals. Do not keep food in your tent- this will attract wild animals.
- Keep your campsite clean, and do not leave food, garbage, coolers, cooking equipment or utensils out in the open. This will keep bears away.
- Use a flashlight a night. Many animals feed at night, and the light from the flashlight will ward them away and scare them off.
Be wary of poisonous plants.Familiarize yourself with any dangerous plants that are common to your camping area. If you come into contact with a poisonous plant, immediately rinse the affected area with water and apply a soothing lotion to the affected area. Some plants to look out for are poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac.The old saying "Leaves of three, let it be!" is a simple and quick reminder for identifying poison ivy and oak, but not poison sumac. Poison sumac usually has clusters of 7-13 leaves. Even poison ivy and poison oak may have more than three leaves, and their look may vary depending on the environment or exact species encountered. To avoid being in contact with these plants:
- Poison ivy can be identified by looking for these features: eastern poison ivy is typically a hairy, rope-like vine with three shiny green (or red in the fall) leaves budding from one small stem. Western poison ivy is typically a low shrub with three leaves that does not form a climbing vine. Poison ivy may have yellow or green flowers and white to green-yellow or amber berries.
- Poison oak is typically a shrub with three leaves, like poison ivy. Pacific poison oak may be vine-like. Poison oak may have yellow or green flowers and clusters of green-yellow or white berries.
- Poison sumac is a woody shrub that has stems containing 7-13 leaves arranged in pairs. It may have glossy, pale yellow, or cream-colored berries.
- Visit the for more information on identification of these plants, symptoms, and treatment.
Be careful with fire.Build them in a safe area. Open fires should be far enough away from the tent to prevent ignition from sparks, flames, and heat. Never use flame or any other heating device inside a tent. Use a flashlight or any other battery powered light device instead.
- Always attend your fires. Be sure you have an area for a fire that cannot spread horizontally or vertically- a grill or stone surface is ideal for this. When putting the fire out, drown it with water, making sure all embers, coals and sticks are wet. Embers buried deep within the pile of kindling have a tendency to reignite later, so be sure to check thatallembers are extinguished.
- Practice good fire safety. Clear the fire area of all debris, and avoid areas with overhanging branches that could possibly ignite. When constructing a fire ring, surround it with rocks to avoid the flames spreading.
Protect against carbon monoxide poisoning.Carbon monoxide is an odorless and colorless gas that can cause illness or death in people and pets. Never use fuel-burning equipment such as gas stoves, heaters, lanterns, and charcoal grills inside a tent or other enclosed shelter. It can cause dangerous levels of carbon monoxide to build up because the space is so small and does not let the gas escape.
- As an alternative to using fuel-burning appliances inside an enclosed shelter, bring adequate bedding and clothing. Consume extra calories and fluids to prevent hypothermia.
- Carbon monoxide poisoning produces flu-like symptoms, watery eyes, headaches, dizziness, fatigue and possibly death. If someone you know has contacted carbon monoxide poisoning: 1) Get the victim to fresh air. 2) If the victim isn’t breathing, give mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. 3) Get medical help. Call the nearest emergency medical service, law enforcement official or ranger. 4) Transport the victim to a medical facility with a hyperbaric chamber.
Keep your dog safe.Talk to your veterinarian and make sure your dog is healthy and up to date on all required vaccinations, especially rabies.Ask your veterinarian if it is appropriate for your dog to be vaccinated against Lyme disease, a disease carried by ticks. Discuss appropriate flea and tick control. Be sure your dog is protected against heartworms, a parasite transmitted by mosquito bites. Cases of heartworm have been reported in all 50 states, according to the American Heartworm Society.
- Have your pet wear a collar with tags that include your name, address, and phone number, in case he/she gets lost. Use a cell phone number where you can be reached at all times, not a home phone number, on the tag or collar. Microchipping your dog will provide extra protection in the event your dog gets lost. Register the microchip. If your dog has already been microchipped, make sure the information is up to date, so that you can be contacted when your dog is located.
- Always have plenty of cool water for drinking to prevent dehydration.Bring your own water for your dog if water is not available at the campsite. Do not allow your dog to drink out of bodies of water such as lakes, ponds or streams. These could have bacteria that could potentially make your dog sick.
- Your dog should continue to eat his regular diet during the trip.Pack enough food and treats to last the whole trip. Pack a food dish and water bowl as well. Bring bedding and toys to keep your dog occupied, and make sure he/she gets proper exercise. Pack a leash as well.
- Take a copy of your dog’s health records and vaccination reports, especially if you are crossing state borders. Other essential items to bring on your trip include: a carrier or other means to confine your dog when necessary, bags to pick up your dog’s waste, a first aid kit and any medications your dog takes regularly.
Know what to do in cold weather.Dampness and cold may seem difficult to handle, but a little forethought and common sense will keep any sleeping bag dry and warm. Buy a good quality sleeping bag with a water-repellent, windproof shell. You can also cocoon yourself by slipping the bag into a bivouac (bivy sack), which is waterproof.
- Remember to choose a dark colored sleeping bag. It will absorb the sun’s warmth when you dry it outside the next morning. Change into dry clothes- preferably polypropylene underwear- before going to bed. Don't breathe into the bag- this causes moisture problems.
- If you plan to spend several consecutive nights in subzero weather, add a vapor barrier liner of nylon cloth. You can purchase these by the yard at camping supply or fabric stores. Bags that don’t get a chance to dry out in extremely cold weather collect body moisture in their insulation. This moisture freezes and can literally add pounds of ice to an untreated bag.
- As an alternative to purchasing a vapor barrier liner, you can make your own by wearing a plastic garbage bag over your long underwear, or wearing your raincoat to bed. To protect hands and feet during extreme cold, wear empty sandwich bags or bread sacks over them.
- If you don't own a high quality sleeping bag, you can: 1) Wear a ski cap to bed. If your feet are still cold with the ski cap, wear a warm hat instead. About half of your body heat is lost through your head. 2) Eat a good meal. Be sure to eat meals rich in protein, carbohydrates and fat. 3) Drink lots of liquids (except alcohol, since it lowers body temperature) before going to bed. 4) Lay a closed-cell foam pad next to the ground. Put another pad of softer foam on top of the first pad.
Practice lightning safety.If you hear thunder, it means you are within ten miles of a thunderstorm, and as such should immediately seek shelter. Though a tent may seem like a suiting shelter,avoid it at all costs.The aluminum poles that hold up the tent can be very dangerous as they are good conductors of electricity. Get into a vehicle if possible. The rubber in the tires are insulators, meaning they block the flow of electricity and absorb it, deadening the contact if your vehicle were to be struck by lightning. If you're swimming and hear thunder,get out of the water immediately.Water is a extremely good conductor of electricity.
- If you are going hiking while on your camping trip, avoid the summits of mountains, crests of ridges, slopes above timberline, and large meadows as they are hazards during thunderstorms. If you happen to be in an exposed area when a storm is approaching, quickly descend to a lower elevation, away from the direction of storm. Squat or kneel down on a pad while keeping your head low. An exceptional area for protection is a dense forest located in a depression. Trees can be dangerous in such a situation, however; so avoid taking shelter under isolated trees or trees much taller than neighboring ones. By doing this, you have minimal contact with the ground, which in turn reduces any danger from ground currents.
QuestionWhat do you eat when camping?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerHealthy foods such as berries and nuts, granola bars and energy bars, oatmeal, eggs and similar foods. Eating healthy foods will keep you energized and fit throughout your camping trip. You can also bring hot dogs or marshmallows, chocolate and graham crackers to roast at your campfires as s'mores (a camping classic).Thanks!
QuestionWhy should I never start a fire with flammable liquids? There are such things commercially available, why are they such a big no-no?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThey are much riskier and have a higher likelihood of spreading to areas where you don't want fire. Overall, in a camping situation they can be dangerous and have a high chance of igniting areas besides your campfire. Use alternatives; flammable liquids should be your last resort, if at all.Thanks!
QuestionIs a camper/drivable camper a good choice for rain, thunder, and/ or lightning?Community AnswerYes. As long as it's a vehicle, you are fine. Make sure it has a lightning rod, and your satellites are down though.Thanks!
- Neverstart a fire with flammable fluids.
- Seek immediate medical attention if you are feeling dizzy, light-headed, or nauseous. This may be the result of carbon monoxide poisoning.
- During a thunderstorm, avoid open trees, water and your tent at all costs. Resort to an open field, vehicle, or any other lightning safe area.
- If a fellow camper is struck by lightning,immediately call 911and perform CPR on them if they have stopped breathing and their heart has stopped beating. If they are only unconscious, treat for shock (not electrical shock).
Video: Camping: The 10 Essentials (plus other tips!)
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