Dealing With Emergencies While Camping
By: Megan Jerrard
Camping is a brilliant way to experience the great outdoors and unplug from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Setting up tents or putting yourself into your sleeping hammock for a couple of days allows you to reconnect with nature and explore sights that you’ve never seen before.
Though a medical emergency is something no one wants to face on a camping trip abroad. It’s often difficult to access proper medical care while so far from home, and camping in a remote location means you’re likely too far out of range to manage a call for help. Though arming yourself with the proper knowledge of first aid and an understanding of the risks involved with your specific trip, you’ll be properly equipped to resolve an emergency while camping.
The following are a few tips on how to deal with an emergency while camping abroad so that you can keep your cool if it happens to you.
Use the Tools in Your First Aid Kit
You should never camp without a first aid kit. A simple safety precaution which is an absolute must for every camping trip whether at home or abroad, you’ll be more able to handle medical issues while away if you’re well-stocked with emergency supplies.
Bring any medications that you use, including allergy medications and over-the-counter pain relievers. And make sure you have plenty of gauze, bandages, rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, tweezers, small scissors, tape, etc. that you need to clean and dress wounds, remove ticks, and more.
Take a Class
In addition to carrying a first aid kit and knowing how to use the items within it, it’s also a great idea to take a class on the Heimlich Maneuver and CPR before your trip.
These are life-saving techniques that you’ll need at a moment’s notice while you’re far from home on a camping trip.
Pack the Necessary Equipment
One of the best ways to deal with camping emergencies is to be well prepared for the many potential dangers that can occur. This starts with packing all the right camping equipment. If your camping in bear country, be sure to carry a can of bear spray and keep all food well secured and food scraps away from your camping area. Always carry water treatment tablets or a water purifying device in case you become stuck out in the wilderness longer than you intend to be. While you may be able to survive without food for weeks, humans normally can’t survive without clean drinking water for more than a few days.
Other handy items include a survival multi-tool, compass or GPS unit, a reliable cooking device with more than enough fuel, and a small hand shovel for digging yourself a natural toilet. Backpacking saws are another vital camping tool that can be used for cutting firewood to keep warm, clearing trails of fallen trees and debris after storms, and building yourself a shelter such as a lean-to. You can easily search for the perfect backpacking saw online at https://sawingpros.com/best-backpacking-saws/ , where you’ll find a good selection of the latest bow saws, folding hand saws, and specially designed camp saws.
Other items you should carry include a torch, waterproof dry bags, and clothing that will be adequate for any possible weather you might face.
Pack Your Mobile Phone
Though you may want to unplug while you’re camping, it’s a good idea to pack your mobile phone in case you run into an emergency. Store emergency numbers in your phone and make sure that you also pack your charging cable so you can rest assured you’ll be able to use it.
Even though camping means you may not have cell reception, mobile phones are still handy when you need to make emergency phone calls, and, for instance, US cell carriers are required by the government to accept any and all emergency 911 calls, regardless of your cell phone plan (roaming, bills paid, etc).
It’s possible for you to be out of range of your normal provider’s towers (so it looks like no service) and to have roaming voice disabled, but for the cell to still be able to talk to other towers for emergencies. So take along your mobile phone just in case.
Satellite phones are also an option for remote trips as they are GPS enabled devices that can track your movement and have the capability to send pre-programmed messages to notify friends and family at certain intervals that you are ok, as well as the ability to send SOS requests to law enforcement. If your destination is truly remote, a satellite phone can save your life.
Know How to Treat Hypothermia and Hyperthermia
Lowered or elevated body temperatures can be dangerous, especially when you’re exposed to the elements and you can’t get yourself to a temperature-controlled environment quickly. Therefore, you need to know how to treat both hypothermia and hyperthermia while at your campsite. The thermometer you packed in your first aid kit will come especially handy in these emergency situations.
Hypothermia: To treat hypothermia, which is a body temperature under 35°C, try to figure out the cause of the drop in temperature. Remove wet clothing items, and replace them with dry clothes. Have the individual drink warm broth or liquids to raise the body temperature, and be ready to leave the campsite for the nearest medical centre if conditions don’t improve.
Hyperthermia: To help someone with an elevated body temperature that may be dealing with dizziness, moistened skin, and nausea, you need to take steps to reduce the dangers of heat stress, heat stroke, and heat exhaustion.
Remove the individual from the sun and go to a shaded area if you don’t have an air-conditioned cabin. You can create shade with a tarp, if necessary. Make sure the person drinks water and removes warm clothes while you call for emergency services to come help or you take the person to the nearest medical centre.
Travel With Health Insurance
Make sure your health insurance is up to date before you head out on a camping trip, and ensure that your policy includes coverage for emergency medical evacuations. Evacuation coverage typically covers expenses associated with a medical emergency that requires you to travel to find the nearest qualified medical facility. It also includes the cost of returning to your home country (in some cases) or back to the country where evacuation occurred.
Emergency medical evacuations are necessary in catastrophic medical events, and as a global traveler you need to be prepared. Though as you can imagine, the expenses associated with such an evacuation are incredibly high. So if you’re hiking and find you need to be airlifted out, or find yourself camping in a location where the medical care is poor or inaccessible, insurance which covers a medical evacuation can save both your life and your wallet.
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October 9, 2016
Great tips! Having a properly stocked Emergency Kit is so valuable. Thanks for sharing!
October 9, 2016
It is indeed , thank you for your comment.
April 14, 2020
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October 9, 2016
I’m going camping on a volcano in 2 days so this post could not have come at a better time for me! I usually rely on my partner for everything but I know it’s important for me to get a sense of the basics with what could go wrong, so thanks for the tips!
October 9, 2016
Thank you for the kind comment. Always better to be over prepared with supplies and knowledge.
October 10, 2016
Great tips! Getting injured in the middle of no where is a nightmare.
October 11, 2016
Thanks for the lovely comment.
October 11, 2016
Camping in the wilderness is a great experience. However, there always lurks the danger of untoward incidents or mishaps. It is better to be prepared than to react later.
October 11, 2016
Thanks for the comment. Couldn’t agree more with you.
May 19, 2017
Great tips! Although camping is relaxing, there are definitely a lot of things that can go wrong when you’re so far from civilization. Using satellite phones especially brings a lot of peace of mind if something happens to your mobile device or reception somehow fails. Thanks for sharing!
August 15, 2017
The first aid kit is one of the most important things while camping but I see many people forget it and they don’t even think about it. We should always prepare for unexpected things in life. Thanks for your great tips. I’ll try to buy a smartphone when camping next time 🙂
September 19, 2017
Taking a first aid class is so important – not only for camping but all kinds of travel. If nothing else, it helps to keep you calm under the stress of the moment, which is worth a lot in an emergency situation. Fortunately, I haven’t had any camping emergencies yet but I’ll always prepared.
February 23, 2018
I found your article had a lot of helpful information . Thank you
August 4, 2019
Thanks for your great tips.
September 24, 2019
Hi Megan Jerrard,
Thanks for this article. These tips will help a lot.
November 4, 2019
November 30, 2019
Thanks for this valuable article. It’s really helpful for me.
January 3, 2020
Hi Megan Jerrard!
Wonderfully explained top to bottom, I had this experience when I was visiting India. this is surely helpful for travelers.
Keep helping people
James V. Jordan
March 27, 2020
It’s a shame that I am seeing this after my first camping (I didn’t pack a few important items that you have recommended) but your list will be of great help as I prepare for the next one. Thank you!