What Are the Dangers of Camping? (2022 Guide)

Read this guide to learn about common camping dangers and tips to avoid them.
Dangers of Camping

Camping, Guides

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Although most people have nothing but great things to say about camping, there are a handful of hazards to be aware of when spending a night in the wild, such as unexpected inclement weather, fires, and poisonous species.

If you’re curious about the dangers of camping and want a few tips for how to look out for and avoid them while on your trip, keep reading this thorough guide.

Table of Contents

Common Dangers You May Encounter While Camping

Below are the most common types of dangers that can have a serious impact on your camping experience:

  • Bad weather: Going on a camping trip and stumbling upon some bad weather can not only ruin your time out in the wild, but can also pose a significant threat to your safety. This could be as little as a small, unexpected thunderstorm with dangerous lightning to quickly-dropping temperatures that threaten hypothermia.
  • Harmful wildlife: When you’re spending any amount of time outdoors, you should always be aware that you’re sharing space with other animals’ homes. Wildlife, such as bears, snakes, and other critters can be a serious danger on your camping trip if you’re not careful.
  • Accidental injuries: Accidents can happen while hiking or camping without warning, causing small to severe injuries to your body that can be permanent if not treated swiftly. This can include cuts that get infected when not properly cleaned or even broken bones from falling on a hiking trail.
  • Fire hazards: When you think of camping, you often think of sitting around a warm campfire. Whenever open flames are involved in recreational activity, you run the risk of burning yourself while tending to it or even potentially spreading an uncontrollable fire throughout the environment around you.
  • Insects: Spending the night outside also means sharing a home with thousands of insects that live there. While many of these insects are harmless and should be left alone, some can pose threats to your safety, such as mosquitoes, wasps, and ticks.
  • Poisonous plants: Plants make up a large portion of the wilderness where you may be camping, and they’re not all safe. Some species can be dangerous and cause allergic reactions, such as poison ivy and poison sumac.

Whatever the danger may be that threatens your safety and comfort on your camping trip, remember that it shouldn’t make you afraid or discourage you from wanting to spend a night out in nature. 

Remember, there are many benefits of camping in addition to dangers, such as getting to spend time in fresh air with the wilderness and sharing special moments with friends and loved ones.

5 Helpful Camping Safety Tips

Here are some camping safety tips that can help you avoid common dangers and prepare you for handling them if they come about:

Tip 1: Bring a Comprehensive First-Aid Kit
Tip 2: Follow Bear Safety Procedures
Tip 3: Cancel Your Trip If Weather Looks Bad
Tip 4: Know Your Fire Safety Fundamentals
Tip 5: Pack a Plant and Insect Field Guide

Tip 1: Bring a Comprehensive First-Aid Kit

One of the most important things to include in your camping supplies is a comprehensive first-aid kit that is equipped to handle a multitude of health and safety emergency scenarios, from small cuts to broken bones.

This first-aid kit should include the following:

  • Various sizes of regular adhesive bandages or band-aids
  • Butterfly band-aids
  • Packaged gauze pads
  • Gauze roll
  • Tweezers
  • Small knife and scissors
  • Anti-inflammatory medicine or pain relievers
  • Antiseptic creams
  • Ointment
  • Hydrocortisone cream
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Aloe vera gel
  • Epi-pen (if traveling with someone with allergies)
  • Sunscreen
  • Antihistamine for unexpected allergic reactions
  • Sterile wipes
  • Rinsing solution for cleaning wounds
  • Calamine lotion

Tip 2: Follow Bear Safety Procedures

The National Park Service (NPS) provides detailed information about what to do during an encounter with a bear while camping. In summary, the NPS encourages campers and hikers to do the following seven things:

  1. Speak calmly to the bear to identify yourself as a human and not a prey animal
  2. Wave your hands slowly above your head to signal to the bear to leave you alone, but don’t call out loudly or make any screaming noises
  3. Make yourself look large by slowly climbing to higher ground
  4. Don’t drop your pack or camping gear
  5. Don’t provide the animal with food
  6. Don’t run away
  7. Don’t try to climb a tree

Tip 3: Cancel Your Trip If Weather Looks Bad

You should always check the weather in the days leading up to your trip, and don’t be afraid to cancel it if it looks bad. The last thing you want is to risk it and end up being stuck out in the wild while there is a severe thunderstorm or temperatures are lower than you prepared for.

While many campsites require reservations, it’s worth it to cancel your reservation last minute rather than to go out there and risk your health and safety. You can always reschedule for a better day.

Related reading: How To Keep a Tent Warm

Tip 4: Know Your Fire Safety Fundamentals

Knowing safe fire techniques is very important when planning to use a campfire at your campsite for cooking, staying warm, or just as a place to gather with your fellow campers. Here are a few fundamentals you should always keep in mind:

  • Be aware of your environmental conditions. If you’re camping during a dry period with low humidity, you should skip the campfire. Likewise, if it’s especially windy, you should probably avoid lighting a fire, especially if you’re near lots of trees and flammable foliage.
  • The 15-feet rule. Make sure tents and other camping supplies are set up at least 15 feet from your campfire.
  • Never leave the campfire unattended. Just don’t walk away from it until you know it’s extinguished.
  • Keep a shovel or rake handy. A camping shovel can help you control your campfire if it starts to get out of hand, by suppressing it with dirt or sand from the ground.

If you’re a beginner camper and want to learn how to properly start and extinguish campfires, here’s a helpful video guide shared by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC):

Tip 5: Pack a Plant and Insect Field Guide

You shouldn’t go out into the wilderness without a base knowledge of poisonous plants and creatures to look out for. We recommend bringing a field guide with you in case you come across something, and you’re not sure if it could be harmful to you.

Field guides can help you search the plant or insect’s species on the spot and learn about their properties or potentially dangerous capabilities.

Before You Leave: Summary

Whether you’re on the fence about going on a camping trip and worried about the dangers of camping, or you just want to inform yourself on potential threats, you’re doing the right thing by educating yourself.

While camping is fun, easy, and rewarding, there are some dangers to be aware of before going on your trip, whether you’re a beginner camper or an expert backpacker. The primary dangers of camping include fire hazards, threatening wildlife, unexpected bad weather, poisonous plants, and accidental injuries.

Frequently Asked Questions About Camping Dangers

Is it dangerous to camp alone?

Camping alone can be dangerous, no matter your level of skill and experience, because it means you don’t have anyone to help you during an unexpected emergency. While you can prepare yourself with the proper gear and supplies to handle many threatening situations, it’s always a good idea to bring someone with you on your trip.

Why do some people hate camping?

Camping isn’t for everyone. While it has many benefits to your mental and physical health, provides a fun and exciting experience, and offers a way to connect with the nature around you, it has some dangers that may turn some people away from its appeal.

Is camping a good alternative to a hotel room?

Yes, if reserving a campsite at a public or private campground can be a much cheaper alternative to getting a room at a hotel, plus it comes with the benefit of sleeping outside—a worthwhile experience unmatched by any hotel room.

Is camping harmful to the environment?

If you camp with the Leave No Trace principle, your night in nature should have a minimal impact on the environment. In fact, camping mostly has a positive impact on the environment by saving the energy you would have spent in your home or a hotel room.

 


 

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