So many people go camping because it’s the perfect combination of comfort and adventure. You can get up close and personal with nature, experience its beauty first-hand and enjoy your favorite outdoor activities like hiking, hunting and fishing – but still have access to some amenities of home.
Camping is an amazing way to recharge, to learn new things and of course, develop real connections with others.
But like any other outdoor adventure, there’s always that possibility that your trip won’t go as planned. But don’t let that ruin your trip – you can only hope for the best and prepare for the worst.
They key here is preparedness. The most vital step is reviewing you camping supplies before you leave home.
Here’s a quick check list of what to do and what to prepare before your camping trip.
- Gather important information such as campground phone number and confirmation number, park ranger/local police number of the area, exact address of your campground and the number and address for the nearest hospital/medical clinic in the area. It would be helpful to jot these vital information down and leave a copy with a family member or a friend at home.
- Check the weather forecast for the days of your trip.
- Check and test your camping gear, especially newly-bought ones. Make sure all parts are complete and in usable condition.
- Charge all electronics and pack extra batteries, especially for your mobile phone in case of emergencies.
- Prepare food and refreshments as needed
- Let a family member or a friend know of your trip – where you’ll be, how long you’ll be gone etc.
- Pre-packed food (meals, snacks, refreshments, condiments like salt, pepper, spices etc. and extra high-energy food options such as granola bars and beef jerky) Don’t forget to always bring an emergency food stash!
- Cooking and eating equipment (dishes, utensils, pans, pots, lighter/matches, cups/water bottles, coolers, portable stove)
- Clothing (day clothes, sleep clothes, swim suit, jacket, ran gear, gloves)
- Footwear (standard sandals/shoes, aqua shoes, hiking boots, socks)
- Personal Items (cash, ID, medication, sunglasses, contacts/eyeglasses – bring a spare, toiletries – include sunscreen, sunburn treatment and mosquito repellant)
- Gadgets (phone, camera, radio, portable chargers)
- Sleep Equipment (tent, sleeping bag, pillows, blanket – bring a spare)
- Lighting (flashlight, lantern – check out our Camping Lantern here)
- Emergency Kits (first aid, tent repair, flares)
- Outdoor tools and equipment (watch, map, compass, whistle, binoculars, pocket knife, hatchet, hammer, small shovel)
- Extras (trash bags, duct tape, rope, twine, bungee cords, tarps)
It is vital that you learn how to handle various camping emergency situations and come prepared. This way, you won’t only have a memorable camping trip, you might even save a life.
Here are 5 camping emergency situations and what you can do to handle (and even prevent) it:
It’s easy to get lost in the woods and it can be very dangerous if you do. To prevent this, travel with a partner (preferably someone with more experience outdoors).
If you must travel alone, bring essential tools that will make it easy for you to find in case you do get lost – your mobile phone (provided there is cell service in the area), a watch, whistle, chalk, compass, flashlight (with spare batteries) knife and flares.
Be sure to bring snacks, water and a jacket. Never head out without telling someone at our campsite. It’s ideal to set an approximate time for when you’ll be back. For example, if you’re not back in 6 hours, they should come looking for you.
Blow your whistle if you realize you’re lost and use your compass to find your way back. If you’re beyond whistle-hearing range from your campsite and you’re truly lost, use a flare to alert rescuers.
Look for a man-made object like a cabin, a trail marker, a power line or an access road and wait by it until someone comes. Use the chalk to write a message asking for help in a large rock or boulder that you pass by.
Running Out of Food
It’s vital that you plan out your meals for the duration of your camping trip to make sure that you have enough (and some extra!). If run out of food because of miscalculation or your stash was raided by an animal, don’t worry. The easiest way to deal with this is to make that extra trip to the nearest convenience store (your camp may even have one).
If that’s not possible, you can ask for help from another camping group and explain your situation. If those two are not options, this is where the beauty of emergency snacks comes in. Consume these and consider cutting your trip short.
The wilderness is an accident prone area, therefore medical emergencies are a likely possibility. One could easily slip and get injured, get sick from contaminated water and develop rashes or allergic reactions from insect bites, to name a few. Before you leave home, be sure to pack a fully-supplied first aid kit.
It’s ideal that you learn basic first aid techniques like CPR and how to deal with burns, bleeding, drowning etc. If the medical emergency is serious, contact 911 and the park office right away. When you’re in a remote area, light a flare and call immediately - the earlier you call for help, the quicker it will come.
Weather is unpredictable so even if you checked the forecast and it showed sunny days ahead, you still have to be ready. If stormy weather hits your campsite, transfer some items back into your car (things you don’t immediately need and important items that need to stay dry, including a change of clothes to change into once the storm passes.
Place other items like food in garbage bags then cover them with a tarp. Add a tarp to your tent and re-secure your tent stakes. If the wind is strong, move your car closer to your tent to help break the wind. If you can, find a safer place to stay (like a cabin or a nearby motel) to stay in just until the storm passes.
It is important to know that bears are driven by 2 main needs – to protect their young and to look for food. The latter is the primary reason they appear in campsites. Knowing this, never keep food or garbage in or near your tent. Cook and keep food at least 100 yards away from where you sleep.
If you see a bear about to enter your campsite, frighten it by waving your arms and making as much noise as you can. Keep your bear spray in an accessible place. If you encounter a bear on a trail, slowly back away without making eye contact, without turning your back to it or running away.
These camping emergency situations indeed are scary, but if you come prepared and know what to do, you’ll be able to save the day.