I don’t know about everyone, but the idea of camping brings to mind the thought of a wild bear charging through tents and campfires. Possibly that may sound somewhat dramatic, but one has to admit, camping is not all roses and candy. In fact, most times, it is downright dangerous. Unless of course, you’re pitching a tent in your own backyard!
More often, camping refers to spending time in the great outdoors. No matter the type; adventure camping, tent camping, canoe camping, or backcountry camping, all are fraught with danger and uncertainty, especially when one is unprepared and uninformed.
One crucial step to take prior to taking a camping trip is to learn the area you are going to; to know the possible risks you can face with the weather, animal and plant life, and also the terrain.
This will not reduce the presence of danger but will help you to react correctly and even avoid risky situations.
I’ve had some experience camping, and none of it was good. I mean of course it’s great to spend time in the fresh air, without all the chaos of day-to-day life, but let’s face it; fear of a great number of things that could go wrong out there has always left me with a yearning to get back home to safety.
If you have the all necessary for successful camping, great, but keep in mind to experience these kinds of dangers that you might encounter your way. Read through!
Wild Animal Threat
My number one fear is always animals: insects, reptiles, bigger animals, all of them. Snakes especially give me cold shakes.
Other than the very unsavory thought of one crawling up your sleeping bag, backpack or just into your tent, there’s the very real danger of encountering snakebite from a venomous snake in the wild. Fatal bites are not too common, but that doesn’t reassure me at all!
Insects, like mosquitoes, are such a nuisance. Some may carry diseases like malaria and yellow fever, but all give nasty bites that are itchy and painful.
Even worse are ticks, which are just about everywhere! They transmit Lyme disease, which, if left untreated spreads to the joints, heart and nerves system! And here’s a little frightening titbit; it takes 24 to 48 hours of attachment for the bacteria that causes Lyme disease to move into the tick’s saliva!
Other creepy crawlies I would hate to encounter but would most probably see at a camp are spiders, fire ants, wasps, bees and centipedes. The best advice when dealing with any of these is to stay away from them and their nesting grounds.
Coming across bigger animals is a very real possibility. There’s loads of information out there on how to avoid bears while camping; how to scare away bears from your campsite, how to protect yourself from bears
I would suggest just totally keeping yourself away from campsites because facing bear aggression and a bear attack is horrific! And bears are not the only bigger animals you can encounter! There are foxes, coyotes, cougars, bobcats, alligators and crocodiles, and many other wild animals.
These animals are in their natural habitat and campers are the ones intruding on their territory. Is it then a wonder that there are so many reports of people attacked by animals?
Away from the animal life, plant life also poses a danger. On all the times I have attempted a camping expedition, I have had to deal with redness, itchiness, and inflammation on my body, from coming into contact with Poison Ivy, Poison Oak or some other toxic plant. The resulting blisters and irritation were not pleasant to deal with.
Eating wild berries is also not advisable unless you have some training to identify the right berries to eat. Many are good to eat, but others are poisonous and unfit for human consumption. Some wild plants are also quite poisonous.
As if it’s not enough that the animals and plants could turn against you, the weather is also a danger when camping. Weather everywhere is fickle and unpredictable.
When out camping, this becomes a serious concern because tents are not exactly strong, secured dwelling places. Flash floods are a concern, especially during the rainy season. These can easily wash away everything at a campsite, no matter how well secured.
Lightning can easily strike campers during a thunderstorm. How to act during these storms is key, because ground currents are a risk when lying down on the ground in a tent or in the open. Taking shelter under a tree during a lightning storm is not a great idea either!
And that’s not all with the weather. Cold nights and sudden downpours are the perfect recipes for hypothermia! Extreme heat and the scorching sun can cause sunburn, heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and dehydration.
You must be very careful to limit exposure of their skin and use a really good sunscreen often. Staying out of the sun and wearing a hat and sunglasses can also help.
It would seem the weather is one of the biggest hazards when one is out on a camping trip! Sadly, not!
Campfire meals, roasting s’mores, telling stories around a blazing fire; what’s a perfect camping adventure without this? It’s ironical then that one of the most enjoyable, magical activities in camping could cause harm, but yes, campfires have been known to cause fatal accidents when not properly built and attended to.
Life-changing injuries from burns, carbon monoxide poisoning and forest fires can all result from campfires not well managed. This could be from sparks flying from the fire to light up flammable items nearby, which is why campfires should not be lit near tents. Children playing near fire can cause accidents, as can drunk people.
And whilst on the subject of fires, nothing ends a perfect summer day spent out camping like a meal cooked over a campfire. However, food poisoning, from foods not stored properly, or heated properly is a real possibility.
Since it’s not always possible to keep hot foods as hot as they should be kept, and cold foods as cold as required, or even raw food away from cooked, food at camp can easily become a breeding ground for bacteria. Eating this food usually results in food poisoning.
Then there is the tricky subject of water. Ever come across a river of fresh cool water and your first instinct was to cup your hands, scoop and drink that cool, refreshing water?
I know I have done this all the time I have come across a stream, only to learn later that there’s usually all sorts of germs and icky stuff like viruses and bacteria, in this supposedly fresh water. I mean, really? It makes one wonder what then a fresh stream of water is!
Then on the other side of the coin, not drinking enough water can lead to serious dehydration, and this creeps up on you unexpectedly. Especially if you are out camping in those scorching hot months of the year, symptoms such as a headache, weakness, nausea, confusion, lethargy, and seizures can crop up, and lead to seeking medical care!
Whilst we are on the subject of water, many camping sites are usually situated near a lake or body of water. This picturesque site can easily be marred by drowning incidences. It’s not much fun worrying about this, especially when you are out camping with small children!
There’s also poop to worry about! Yes, poop! Bad sanitation can put people, children especially, in contact with their feces, and lead to fecal-oral transmission of bacteria. This can lead to some pretty bad infections in the intestines.
Cattle and animal droppings are found just about everywhere and anywhere in the wild when out camping. Children, again, find it fascinating to pick up and play with these droppings, which have been found to have bacteria like E. coli and Salmonella! These cause nasty stomach illnesses.
Setting up hazards
And here’s yet another hazard people rarely think of. When putting up your tent, it is essential to ensure it is anchored firmly. However, pushing awning or tent pegs into the ground with your foot could get you a nasty puncture wound!
Hands up if you have ever lost your way on a nature trail or on your way to a campsite? Not to worry, you’re among the many that lose their way every year. Many end up missing! It’s important to ensure no one in the camping group wanders off on their own, as that’s a recipe for disaster!
It looks like everything out there is a hazard, well, here is the thing. Whenever I have tried to plan a camping trip, there are so many warnings and safety booklets and procedures on just about everything imaginable. Of course, there are precautions to take for all, and it is important to be aware of them. I guess one has to weigh the benefits of a camping trip versus the dangers that could be faced. It’s entirely possible that a camping trip can be fun and trouble free, but there are just too many risks that could crop up.