If You’re Going Camping This Summer, Make Sure You Know How To Stay Safe

There’s nothing quite like a camping trip. The fresh air, the flexibility, the freedom to be truly at one with nature. But although you can forget about the pressures of everyday life while you’re miles away from civilization, there are still certain things you need to be vigilant about. Here’s 20 tips on how to stay safe whenever you head for the great outdoors.

20. Wild berries

Committed naturalists may think it’s cheating to bring your own food to a camping trip. But unless you’re an expert on the fruits of the forest, then you should avoid putting anything that grows in the wild into your mouth. No matter how inviting they look, berries are a particular no-no.

Indeed, you’re essentially playing pot luck if you choose to pick and then consume wild berries. While some are entirely harmless, others can result in serious illness. So, if you fancy munching on some fruit while in the great outdoors, the best bet is to head to the nearest grocery store beforehand.

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19. Landslides

Landslides and avalanches can be of particular concern for hikers walking up or along a steep slope. Even more so for those unfortunate individuals who may be struggling to keep up with the pace at the back of a group. Rocks can get dislodged at any moment, causing a tumbling effect which may result in severe injuries.

And don’t believe that you’re safe from the dangers of snow if you’re camping in the summer, either. Indeed, snow that has melted can still cause significant problems for those hiking in the much sunnier seasons. Campers who decide to take a walk on treacherous terrain should look out for avalanche-marked areas and avoid lingering in them for too long.

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18. Dangerous roads

Of course, the hazards of camping can begin before you’ve even reached your destination. According to a 1998 study named “Morbidity and Mortality in the Wilderness,” just over ten percent of fatalities across eight different national parks were as a result of driving incidents. And being distracted by the wonderful sights and sounds of nature can often be responsible.

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Drivers are therefore advised to safely bring the car to a standstill whenever they want to enjoy the views. Those behind the wheel should also maintain their focus whenever they’re traveling on mountain terrain. After all, it can be particularly difficult to spot oncoming traffic during drives along mountainsides with dramatic, sheer edges.

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17. Hypothermia

The camping trip exposes us to the elements more than any other regular vacation. Rain and wind – and in some areas even snow – can suddenly cause problems at any given moment. So, you should always ensure that you bring clothing for all kinds of weather, no matter how warm and sunny it may be when you leave your home.

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According to the Center of Disease Control (CDC), roughly 500 individuals camping in rural areas lost their lives due to hypothermia in the second half of the ’00s. Wet and cold conditions are particularly conducive to this condition. Symptoms to look out for including a chillness sensation, a weakness of muscles and a loss of coordination.

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16. Fire hazards

Building a campfire is all part of the camping experience, but it inevitably comes with its fair share of dangers. Those tasked with starting the fire should do so away from the tent or anything else flammable. They should also ensure that it can’t cause a devastating effect by spreading to any nearby woodland areas.

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Other tips to stay safe while keeping warm include building a barrier around the fire. This can be constructed using rocks or any other non-flammable materials you may find lying around. Your tent might consist of material that’s flame-retardant but it can still be destroyed if the heat gets too strong.

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15. Getting lost

The advent of sat-navs and Google Maps has made the reading of compasses and maps a lost art. But you can’t always rely on a signal in the great outdoors, and so it can still be very easy to get lost in unfamiliar surroundings. And those campers who enjoy hiking are at particular risk.

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Indeed, nearly 50 percent of the National Park Service’s Search and Rescue Operations are carried out for lost hikers. To avoid being part of this statistic, you should always inform someone of your planned whereabouts and when they should expect you to return before heading out. And if possible, try to avoid hiking without any company.

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14. Falls

Unfortunately, it can be all too easy to suffer a major fall while going for a hike during your camping getaway. After all, the great outdoors isn’t exactly renowned for its general accessibility. But there are certain things you can do that can reduce your chances of a dangerous plummet.

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If you’re of a curious nature, then ensure that you lie on your belly whenever you want to get a better view from a precarious position. Always make sure that you have company with you in case you find yourself in trouble, too. But the safest option is to avoid getting too close to an edge, period. Many can start crumbling the second that any notable pressure is applied.

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13. Beaver fever

Perhaps better known as beaver fever, Guardia reportedly affects more than 15,000 people each year. Contaminated water is often the main course of transmission of the disease which can result in stomach cramps, nausea and diarrhea. This means that you should drink any kind of water that’s been untreated at your peril. Campers should also ensure they are at least 100 feet or so from a water source when relieving themselves.

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You might not know you have beaver fever until you’re back at home or in the office, too. Symptoms can sometimes take up to three weeks to present themselves after you’ve been exposed to the disease. However, it also takes a long time to get rid of them with some sufferers still feeling unwell a month after they first became ill.

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12. Lyme disease

Approximately 300,000 Americans become infected with Lyme disease ever year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Remarkably, a bite from a tiny black-legged tick is all it takes for you to suffer. Symptoms can include tiredness, rashes, fever and headaches. And you’re at greater risk if you build your tent in wooded or grassy locations.

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The heart, joints and nervous system can all be heavily affected by the disease if it isn’t treated. Insect repellent is therefore a must whenever you head out camping, while tick checks should be performed on a regular basis. If you happen to spot one of the pesky critters – the majority of which hide in the underarm, belly button and ear regions – then immediately get rid of it.

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11. Altitude sickness

Altitude sickness might not be something that most campers have to worry about. In fact, according to various studies, it only accounts for one percent of Washington and California State park injuries. But if you do find yourself heading out to a spot that’s at least 8,000 feet higher than sea level, then you may well suffer from its symptoms.

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Such manifestations can include an aching head, nausea and a dizzy sensation. Although not particularly pleasant, these symptoms shouldn’t be a major cause for concern. In fact, they very rarely require any further medical attention. However, if you still want to reduce the risk, then it’s best to research the altitude of your planned destination before you leave home.

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10. Exhaustion

Sometimes overconfidence can get the better of us. And when it comes to the wilderness, it’s a trait that can be particularly dangerous. You may think that hiking a certain trail looks like a piece of cake when viewed from home. But it can be a different story when you’re actually out there and exhaustion sets in.

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Roughly 850 people rescued each year by the National Park’s SAR teams suffer from fatigue. It’s a figure which accounts for roughly 17 percent of all search and rescue operations carried out. Inexperienced hikers are therefore advised to start small at first, before progressing to longer walks when the body has adapted to the environment.

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9. Drowning

The open waters can undoubtedly be among the most appealing things about the camping trip. Where else, after all, can you enjoy a swim in such scenic locations? And as for keen fishermen – well, the lakeside getaway can be a haven. However, these open waters can also present their fair share of problems.

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Drowning might not be a particularly common cause of death in the great outdoors. In 2005, however, 15 people reportedly still lost their lives while out swimming in the wilderness. Campers who choose to make the most of the waters are therefore advised to stay vigilant, ensure they always have company, and that those who require a life-vest have access to one.

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8. Rodents

Even if you’re one of those people that believe that rats and mice have been given an unfair reputation, you should do your best to avoid them while camping. The rodents, after all, can pass on a disease to humans which can result in hantavirus pulmonary syndrome. This is an illness which causes significant damage to the intestines and respiratory system.

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Rodents’ droppings, their urine, and the materials they use for nesting are largely to blame for spreading the disease in rural areas. Campers should therefore always be on the lookout for any visible signs of the critters. Storing food in plastic odor-free bags is a particularly successful method of keeping them at bay.

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7. Cooking hazards

If the weather isn’t on your side you may have no option but to cook your evening meal within the confines of your tent. But this comes with a whole host of dangers ranging from your tent catching fire to significant burns and even carbon monoxide poisoning. And then there’s the danger of the aromas catching the attention of wild animals.

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So, is there a way to cook inside a tent safely? Well, chefs are advised to use a multi-purpose canister stove. These produce a lower flame-up, reducing the risk of burns and the spread of fire. They are also relatively wind resistant and are deemed to be much less riskier than other types of stoves such as alcohol, white gas and wood.

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6. Snakebites

Snakebites are far more common in America than you may think. In fact, approximately 8,000 people on average are bitten by a snake each year. And although less than 0.01 percent of this figure lose their life as a result, it’s still not a particularly pleasant experience. Especially if you’re left stranded without proper medical care in the wilderness.

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Campers are therefore advised to give off-trail hikes a wide berth along with deep leaves, tall grass or any other area which makes it easy for snakes to hide. Encourage your little ones to avoid sticking their hands in bushes and getting too close to logs and big rocks, too. And if you do happen to stumble across a copperhead or rattlesnake – two of the most common species – then simply move away.

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5. Poor sanitation

You may not feel like you need to wash your hands in the wilderness as much as you would back home. But germs still exist in the great outdoors, and so you should do your best to stay as clean as possible. Experts advise bringing a water filter along with lots of hand sanitizer and soap.

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Still not convinced? Well, you probably will be when you read what Dr. Howard Backer has to say on the matter. Speaking to REI, the water specialist revealed that “fecal-oral transmission” can be a common problem when it comes to poor sanitation. It can, he’s claimed, result in notable intestinal damage.

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4. Bee stings

Of course, bee stings can be a potential hazard from the moment you step outside your front door. But you can be even more susceptible when you’re truly at one with nature. And a bee or hornet sting can be surprisingly lethal, killing more Americans in 2017 than any other wild animal, according to the CDC.

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So, how exactly can you avoid getting stung? Well, insect repellent is a must, obviously. This will also reduce the risk of being harmed by any other pesky critter. And if you already know you’re allergic to bee stings, then make sure you’re never too far away from a proper medical facility.

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3. Animal attacks

The number of human fatalities caused by bears in the wilderness is relatively low. As a Backpacker report has claimed, only 27 people have lost their lives as a result of an attack on North American soil since the turn of the century. However, due to the media attention each case gets, the prospect can often deter people from going on a camping trip.

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But there are certain things that campers can do to ensure that they don’t get an unwelcome grizzly visitor. And food storage, in particular, is key. Anything remotely edible should be kept in cars or tightly sealed containers. Food waste, meanwhile, should be disposed of safely in garbage cans that are designed to be bear-proof.

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2. Falling trees

Try to avoid pitching your tent in close proximity to a tree, if possible. As well as being a conductor for lightning strikes, they can also cause problems by toppling and falling over. Trees may make your tent area look more picturesque, but if they’re diseased or dying then you could be at the risk of a serious injury.

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Of course, the whole tree doesn’t have to fall to cause significant damage. A dead branch could also be fatal if it falls and lands on a camper below. And if you need further convincing to steer clear, then take note of the morbid name given to these dying limbs: widow-makers.

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1. Lightning

It’s not just getting drenched that you have to worry about whenever a thunderstorm occurs during a camping trip. For the great outdoors isn’t exactly the safest place to be when it comes to lightning strikes. In fact, approximately 270 people are said to get struck by the freak weather each year, with roughly ten percent losing their life as a result.

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Those who survive a lightning strike can still suffer effects several years down the line. These can include heart problems, amnesia and seizures. Campers are advised to take shelter in their car, if possible, whenever they first hear the sound of thunder. Restrooms and park ranger stations are other safe spots, too.

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