Camping Safety

In order for a camping trip to be enjoyable safety should be a number one priority. Even the simple basics are often forgotten due to excitement of getting out and at times rushed. We provide you with a quick checklist of what to consider before going out camping.

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Camping safety will address tent camping, car camping and backcountry hiking. All vary a tad, however, all have many items in common.

  1. Know the area where you are going. The terrain, wildlife and plant life. We will address specifics down the list.
  2. Please assess the weather. This also can change drastically. In the mountains, a storm can sneak up unexpectedly and it would not be uncommon to experience a sudden rain storm or snowstorm. Keeping another layer in your pack, raincoat or poncho would very helpful if not a necessity.
  3. Do not pitch a tent or shelter under dying or dead tress. There have been all too many stories of families, Boy Scout troops, etc., who have met a tragic death due to a fallen tree when a storm blew in or the wind picked up.
  4. Be aware of migration trails in your area. Buffalo, Elk and other mammals do not care what is in their way when moving through an area. Know your local wildlife, their behavior during the time of year you are exploring.
  5. In some areas, venomous snakes are plentiful and will cut a trip rather short. In southern Illinois, (a place I have camped numerous times), has a fair amount of Copperheads, Timber Rattlesnakes and Cottonmouths. Collecting wood at night is not a great idea during the summer months and especially in early Spring and Fall when they are more active.
  6. Do not pitch a tent in a low lying area. Heavy downpours can ruin a trip and it is not pleasant packing up at three AM during a downpour.
  7. Know your plant life and be able to identify poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac as well as Cow Parsnip and Stinging Nettles.
  8. Have a well-supplied medical kit. ( See our section on medical kits for the outdoors)
  9. Wear sunscreen. Protect the largest organ of your body from skin cancer and sunburns.
  10. Insect repellant. Mosquitos, ticks, fleas and other critters can ruin a trip. It is wise to also bring mosquito netting – especially for your head/face.
  11. Stay together. Children need to know the rules of getting lost and hugging a tree. They should be equipped with a light, a whistle and a brightly-colored tarp or poncho. ALWAYS.
  12. Make sure you are healthy and if you have any chronic illnesses, make sure you have your medication. There is also camping insurance and for extended treks in the backcountry, you can purchase insurance for a small amount of money. The unusual accident can happen and it is very expensive to rescue and fly you out of the mountains or large national parks. One of these companies is Ripcord Rescue Travel Insurance. Check them out at