Health Encyclopedia

In the Campground: Staying Safe

It's summertime—when many families head for the hills and forests. Planning ahead and being safety-conscious while in the wild can keep everyone safe and secure. Here are suggestions from the American Red Cross.

Before you go

  • Understand your limitations. If you have medical conditions, discuss travel and camping safety with your health care provider first. Make sure you are in good physical condition to participate in the camping activities. 

  • Research your options. Check out where you plan to camp well in advance, with information gathered online and from guidebooks and friends. Plan your drive time so you arrive at your campsite with enough daylight to set up camp.

  • Check out all your equipment. If it has been several months since your last trip, set up your tent, fire up your stove, and check out all your other equipment to make sure everything functions properly. Be sure everyone has the right clothing and gear.

  • Restock your first aid kit. Pack over-the-counter and prescription medications and first aid items in a waterproof container.

  • Plan your water use. If you can’t bring enough clean water from home, pack purification equipment. Assume all wilderness water sources are contaminated and don’t drink directly from them except in an emergency.

  • Check the weather report. If the forecast calls for downpours, rethink your plans or make sure you have adequate clothing and shelter for the expected conditions.

  • Leave a copy of your itinerary with a responsible person. Include travel plans, camping location, and vehicle license number.  

On site

  • Pick your campsite with safety in mind. Look for level ground sheltered by surrounding trees and rocks, if possible. To avoid lightning strikes, don’t set up under the tallest tree.

  • Be fire smart. If a fire is allowed, choose a spot at a safe distance from your tent and dry brush. Make sure someone watches a fire at all times and has access to an adequate water supply to take action if it gets out of control.

  • Dispose of trash properly. Unless there’s onsite disposal, plan on packing your garbage and storing it away from your tent until you leave, to keep critters at bay. Then, take it home and toss it.

  • Check yourself for ticks and other insects. They can carry diseases such as Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

  • Stay hydrated. To avoid dehydration in hot weather, drink more water than you think you need. Plan difficult hikes or activities in the early morning or late afternoon to avoid the hottest part of the day.



Medical Reviewers:

  • Freeborn, Donna, PhD, CNM, FNP
  • Haines, Cynthia, M.D.