Camping Safety Tips: How to Stay Safe and Secure While Enjoying the Outdoors

How Tos & Tips

Camping is one of the most fun vacation options out there. That said, as is the case with any activity you might pursue, you will definitely want to make sure you are safe, so you and your travel companion(s) can return home safely. This makes camping safety tips very important.

Fortunately, taking steps toward outdoor safety isn’t difficult. The camping safety tips provided in this article will help ensure you stay safe and sound while out adventuring in nature. 

Understanding Outdoor Safety

Why is camping safety important, and how can you go about making sure you have a safe and healthy time in the great outdoors? In this section we will address the importance of taking outdoor safety measures, as well as some of the most basic outdoor safety tips.

Why is Camping Safety Important?

Wondering why camping safety is so important? Honestly, we think the answer to this question is pretty obvious. Unfortunate things can happen no matter where you are, but when you’re in an unfamiliar place, this is an even bigger threat.

When camping, some of the dangers include wild animals, bad weather, navigation errors, an inability to communicate with emergency services in case of injury or illness, and in rare cases, fellow campers. 

Knowing how to protect yourself from these things will help ensure you have an enjoyable trip and that you are able to get help if something bad does happen.

General Outdoor Safety Tips

No matter where you’re going in the great outdoors, there are some basic safety tips that you will want to keep in mind. These include the following. 

Trust Your Gut

One of the most important outdoor safety tips is also the most simple: Trust your gut. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t, and it’s better to get out of a situation that feels wrong than to stay and find out the hard way that you were right. 

Check the Weather Forecast

Always, always check the weather forecast before heading out on any adventure. If storms are predicted, it’s usually best to adjust your plans accordingly in order to ensure you have shelter when the storm hits. 

It’s also a good idea to know if your campground has a storm shelter, and if so, where it is. 

Carry the Right Gear

Having the right gear for whatever adventure you plan to take can be a literal lifesaver. Always have a first aid kit and some basic tools for making repairs. An emergency blanket is good to have, as is a flashlight, a loud whistle, and a way to purify water. Don’t forget to pack plenty of healthy snacks too, as well as lots and lots of drinking water!

Dress Appropriately 

Once you check the weather forecast, you can pick out your clothes. Make sure you dress for the weather. Cold weather calls for layers, including a waterproof outer layer. Sunny, hot weather means you should pack light colored, lightweight clothes and a hat. Wet weather calls for a rain jacket and boots. 

No matter the weather, make sure you always wear sunscreen and pack bug spray in case of mosquitos!

Learn First Aid

You never know when you might need to know basic first aid. Make sure you know how to do CPR as well as the Heimlich maneuver. Learn how to clean and dress a wound properly. You might also choose to learn how to stitch a wound closed. 

Know How to Make Repairs

It’s also important that you know how to make basic repairs to essential equipment. You won’t always be able to call a professional in for help, and sometimes all you can do is patch the thing up until you get back to a city. 

Never Approach Wildlife

Never, ever approach a wild animal. No matter how cute and cuddly a critter may look, all wild animals have the potential to be dangerous. Besides, humans feeding or interacting with wildlife can actually be damaging to the animals. 

Stay Alert

When out in nature, it is incredibly important that you pay attention to your surroundings. Stay alert to what animals might be around, what the weather might be doing, etc. The sooner you know about a potential threat, the sooner you can react. 

Hiking Safety: What You Need to Know

Want to go on a hike during your upcoming camping trip? These hiking safety tips can be used in conjunction with the general tips above to keep you safe and sound. 

Consider Taking a Buddy

While it is possible to take a solo hike safely, it’s much safer to go with a friend. We also think it’s more fun, so there are multiple good reasons to find yourself a hiking buddy before you head out!

Know Your Limits

Know what you are capable of, and use this information when choosing a trail. You can use apps like AllTrails to get detailed information on a trail before you head out, so you can be 100% confident it’s something you can tackle. 

Communicate Your Plan

Always let others know where you plan to go and how long you plan to be gone. This way, if you don’t make it back when you planned to, your loved ones will know where to begin looking for you. 

Take Your Time

If you’re out on a long hike, it can be tempting to walk quickly. The thing is, going too fast can easily result in injuries. Make sure you slow down enough to watch your step and avoid dangers. You’ll also want to take plenty of breaks for water and snacks, especially on strenuous trails or in extreme weather. 

Know How to Navigate

It’s easier than you might think to get turned around while out on a hike. One wrong turn could lead to a big problem unless you know how to navigate. Be sure to carry a map of the area, as well as a compass.

Locate landmarks such as bodies of water and mountain peaks to help keep you oriented, and always, always stay on the marked trail unless it is utterly impossible to do so. 

Avoid Dangerous Spots

Fast-flowing water, drop-offs, precarious rock formations, and tight caves can all be super dangerous to hikers. Avoid getting close to such spots in order to avoid a tragic end to your hike. 

Pay Attention to Sunset and Tides

Know when the sun sets and plan to return from your day hike (or stop for the night on an overnight hike) well before then. If hiking near the ocean, you’ll also want to know the tide schedule, especially if you plan to cross the water at low tide. 

First aid kit: the most essential piece of camping safety gear

Essential Camping Gear for Safety

Having the right tools on hand makes any task a whole lot easier. This is just as true for camping safety measures as it is for anything else.

Let’s take a minute to discuss some of the best camping gear for staying safe so you can stock up on all the right products before your next trip into the wilderness. 

Choosing the Right Camping Gear

When picking camping gear, you want to make sure you choose high quality items that will hold up to the wear and tear that comes along with camping. Obviously, you’ll need a good tent and sleeping bags if tent camping, or a well maintained RV if staying in an RV, but what do you need beyond that?

The following items will help keep you safe:

For more RV camping packing suggestions, check out this article

How to Use Camping Gear Safely

Obviously, you’ll want to make sure you use your camping gear as safely as possible. Here are some tips for doing that:

  • To start with, clean all items before storage and store everything in a dry place to avoid mold and mildew. 
  • Be sure to read the instructions that come with your tent so you know how to set it up properly. 
  • Make sure your cell phone and satellite communication devices are fully charged before you head out, and keep them topped up throughout your trip. 
  • Know how to use your water purifier properly, and only use it if absolutely necessary. Bottled water is much safer. 
  • A first aid kit will only get you so far. Learn first aid before your trip. 
  • Keep flares well away from fires and fire starters. 
  • Know how to build a safe campfire. 

Campsite Security: Keeping Your Campsite Safe

When you’re camping, your campsite is your home away from home, but no place will feel like home if it isn’t safe and secure. For this reason, you will definitely want to take steps to ensure your campsite is as safe as it can be for the entirety of your stay.

Here are some of our top tops for campsite security. 

Choosing a Safe Campsite

Before you set up camp, you’ll want to make sure the campsite you choose is safe. This is how you can check for potential problems. 

Get Away from the Road

You definitely don’t want to be camped out right next to the road. This is especially important if you have kids, but honestly it should still apply no matter who is in your travel party. Pick a site that is both 1) deep enough to allow you to set up your tent or RV, and 2) well away from vehicle traffic. 

Look for a Level Site

You want your campsite to be as level as possible. A site with a slope is not only uncomfortable, it can actually be dangerous if your RV decides to roll or if the slope turns into a drop-off. 

Check Drainage

You definitely don’t want to be in a site that floods. Before you set up, look around. Is your campsite at the bottom of a slope? If so, it’s likely that it will fill with water as soon as rain starts to fall. 

Pay Attention to Shade

During the spring and fall, this particular tip doesn’t matter so much. However, if you’re camping in the summer or winter, you will definitely want to pay attention to how your site is shaded. In the colder months, getting as much sunlight as possible can be crucial for staying warm. Meanwhile, you will want to park in as much shade as possible to stay cool during the summer. 

Inspect Trees

Speaking of shade, it’s also important to take a look at the trees on your campsite. Make sure they look healthy and strong. If a tree looks as though it might fall or lose a branch, avoid staying near it, as a falling tree branch can be extremely dangerous and damaging. 

Avoid Sharp Objects

Obviously, you don’t want to set up a tent on sharp rocks and sticks. If a campsite has a lot of sharp objects in it, you might just want to move on to another site, especially if you don’t have an RV and are planning to tent camp. 

Follow the “200 Foot” Rule

If you’re dispersed camping, make sure you follow the 200-foot rule: always set up camp at least 200 feet from any body of water. This will help ensure you don’t contaminate water sources. It’ll also help keep you safe from potential flash flooding. 

Securing Your Campsite: Tips and Tricks

Choosing a safe campsite is only the first step. You’ll also want to focus a bit on campsite security to ensure you are as safe as possible. 

Lock Up

If you’re in an RV, make sure you always close the windows and lock the doors (including storage bay doors) at night, as well as anytime you leave the campsite. If you’re in a tent, consider using a small lock to lock the zippers together. This will deter people from entering your tent while you are sleeping or while you’re away. 

Consider a Security System

Some campers feel safer with some sort of security system set up in their site. This might be a motion-activated light or an alarm that sounds when the camper door is opened. Some people even go so far as to add a camera to the outside of their vehicle or RV. 

Avoid Bringing Valuables

Valuables tempt thieves. If possible, leave all valuable items at home. If you must bring some valuable equipment, be sure to keep it put away, especially when you’re away. Tent campers should consider keeping valuables in the trunk of their car. 

Skip Social Media

You might want to avoid posting about your camping trip on social media until you return. You don’t want to let potential thieves know you are away from home, or for your photos to give away where you’re camping.

Camp in Groups

If you can, camp with others. Criminals are much less likely to target large groups of people, meaning camping with family and friends is actually safer. If you can’t camp in a group, get to know your camping neighbors instead so you can keep an eye on each other. 

Store Food Properly

Wild animals love to steal food from campsites. In some cases this is just annoying, but in other cases it can actually be dangerous. Be sure to use bear boxes to store food whenever they are provided. If you aren’t in bear territory, storing food in a cooler in your car or in the RV pantry should be sufficient.

Carry Insurance

Unfortunately, it is impossible to guarantee nobody will mess with your things while out camping. For this reason, you will want to make sure your insurance covers everything on your campsite before you leave home. 

Campervan observing camping safety rules

Top Camping Safety Tips

Looking for even more camping safety tips? You’re in luck because we have more to share. Be sure to use these tips and tricks every time you head out on a camping adventure. This will ensure you are able to enjoy many more camping adventures in the future—something we all definitely want to do. 

Camping Safety Tips for Families

Planning to camp with the little ones? You should definitely use all of the tips we’ve listed so far. We also recommend keeping the following suggestions in mind.

Keep Kids Close

Young children should be within sight at all times, and if you’re in or near water, they should be within arms reach. If older kids roam, they should be given very clear boundaries, a way to communicate with you (two-way radios work well), and should always use the buddy system. 

Pack Glow Sticks

Glow sticks are amazing for keeping track of kids once the sun goes down. Give each kid a specific color to wear so you can tell who is who, and so you’ll know who is missing if anyone happens to wander off. 

Camp Away from Water

Water is so, so dangerous to young children. If you are camping in a spot with a body of water, try to set up camp as far from the water as possible in order to reduce the chances of a little one wandering into it. 

Give Kids Whistles

When out exploring, give all of your kids whistles and instruct them to stand still and blow the whistle if they get lost. This will help you locate them quickly, and it has the added benefit of scaring bears and other animals away. 

Provide Slip on Shoes

Shoes are a must when enjoying the great outdoors. Make sure all of your kids have easy access to slip-on shoes that they can put on by themselves. This will reduce the likelihood of someone heading outside without any shoes and stepping on something sharp or poky. 

Teach Plant, Animal, Fire, and Water Safety

The best way to protect your kids while outdoors? Teach them!

Show your kids what poison ivy and poison oak look like so they know to avoid them. Make sure they know that they should never eat anything they find in the woods. Teach them to give wild animals their distance and avoid feeding the wildlife.

Give firm boundaries when it comes to fires and water, and make sure they always wear a life jacket when in a lake, river, or the ocean. 

Camping Safety Tips for Solo Campers

If you’re planning a solo camping trip, there are a handful of extra camping safety tips you might want to keep in mind. These should be used in addition to all of the tips above. 

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

When heading out on a solo trip, let a loved one know where you’re going and how long you will be gone. Check in with this individual daily to let them know how it’s going, and let them know when you return home. 

It’s also a good idea to communicate with your camping neighbors. Let them know when you head out on a hike and where you’re going so they can alert authorities if you don’t return. 

Lastly, make sure you have multiple ways to communicate while out on your solo trip. A cell phone is a good start. Starlink is an excellent addition, as it will allow you to connect absolutely anywhere that you can see the sky as long as you have some sort of electricity (a pure sine wave inverter will allow you to run the Starlink off of your car battery in an emergency). A satellite communication device is even better than Starlink.

Other options include flares and a whistle for drawing attention to yourself. 

Camp Near Others

Going on a solo trip does not mean you have to be completely alone the entire time. We recommend camping near others whenever possible so you have someone to call on for help in case of an emergency. 

Consider befriending those neighbors and offering to watch their campsite if they’ll keep an eye on yours. Not only will you be more secure, you might just make some new friends in the process!

Think Outside the Box

Our last solo camping safety tip? Be willing to think outside of the box. We mentioned above that you might have to be resourceful, repairing things and taking care of injuries on your own while out in the wilderness. This becomes even more true when you’re camping all alone, as you might find you have nobody but yourself when an issue or emergency arises. 

Go in with a willingness to get creative and problem-solve. Add the right tools to this attitude and you’ll be able to solve almost any issue that comes up!

As you can see, it’s actually not all that hard to ensure you are taking steps toward proper outdoor safety. Make sure to start on your next camping trip and keep it up each and every time you head into the great outdoors. You’ll be happy you did!

Now that you know how to enjoy camping safely, it’s time to book your RV and begin your next awesome adventure!

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