Camping is a fun and relaxing way to spend time with family, friends or just by yourself. But camping can be dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing.
It’s easy to get injured when you are in the great outdoors. The most common injuries are minor ones such as burns, scrapes, or bug bites. These injuries can happen quickly and easily, so it is important to be prepared by knowing how to prevent them and what you need to do if you get one of these minor camping injuries.
Burns are the most common type of injury when camping. There are three types of burns: first-degree, second-degree, and third-degree.
- First-degree burns are the least serious type of burn and can happen from touching a hot stove or stepping into a fire pit. These burns will hurt but should heal within a week or two.
- Second-degree burns are more serious than first-degree burns because they have gone through the skin layer. The burn will cause pain and scarring, but it shouldn’t be too serious as long as you take care of it properly.
- Third degree burns are the most serious type of burn that can happen during camping. These burns go all the way through the skin to the layer underneath it (the dermis). These types of injuries cause immense pain and need to be treated immediately by wrapping them in cloth soaked in cold water or rubbing them with ice cubes every few minutes until help arrives.
While burns are a common injury when camping, they are also quite easily avoidable. Burns are often caused by not paying attention to your surroundings, so if you’re at a campsite and there is a grill or a bonfire nearby, don’t get distracted by anything.
Don’t leave your food unattended on the grill or put your hand near a fire when you’re cooking. You should also make sure you’re wearing the right clothes when you’re cooking. Most burn injuries can be avoided by wearing long sleeves, gloves and footwear when you’re preparing food.
Also, make sure you’re cooking over a fire that is contained. If you’re in a place where you can’t build a fire, consider a portable grill. Finally, make sure you have the right cooking utensils. Never cook with metal utensils, as they can overheat and cause burns.
Cuts, scrapes, and wounds
One of the most common injuries that campers and hikers face is cuts and scrapes. The best way to prevent them is by wearing proper footwear, long pants and keeping your face away from bushes, plants and trees.
If you do get a scratch or cut, make sure to clean it and cover it as soon as possible. You’ll also want to find a way to disinfect it. At the very least, use some alcohol and sterile gauze to cover it. Use a band aid or antibiotic ointment if possible.
For the treatment of more common cuts and scrapes, your first aid kit should include bandages, medical tape, hydrogen peroxide, bacitracin, and cotton swabs.
Sunburns are another common camping injury. It is a result of prolonged sun exposure that results in a burn on the skin that is caused by UV radiation.
It is so easy to forget to put on sunscreen before you go camping. You can easily protect yourself from sunburns using a sunscreen with SPF 30+ or higher. The sunscreen blocks the rays of the sun to prevent it from penetrating the skin.
Apply sunscreen at least one hour before going out into the sun. The sunscreen will soak it, and it will protect you for up to 8 hours. It is not a bad idea to reapply it at least every 2 hours if you are in the sun for a while.
Dehydration is a serious condition that can even be life-threatening without immediate medical attention. Knowing how to prevent dehydration and what to do if you think you have it is essential for your safety when camping.
There are many ways to get dehydrated, but it’s usually from sweating too much or not drinking enough fluids. The best way to prevent dehydration is by drinking plenty of water or sports drinks and wearing clothes that will keep you cool. If you don’t drink enough fluids before, during and after your trip, your risk of getting dehydrated increases.
If you start feeling thirsty, dizzy, lightheaded or have dry mouth or skin, then it is important to stay hydrated by drinking more fluids and make sure others know about the problem as well. If they are also experiencing these symptoms they need to seek treatment right away as well.
Heat stroke and dehydration go hand in hand in many cases. And just like dehydration, a heat stroke can lead to death if it isn’t treated right away. The first sign of heat stroke is usually a headache, nausea, or confusion. If you have these symptoms and don’t cool down you can get heat stroke quickly.
To avoid heat strokes, bring plenty of water with you and drink! Have water on hand and make sure to hydrate yourself before heading out for your hike or bike ride.
If you feel sick because of the heat, find some shade, wear loose-fitting clothing, and sit in front of something that will give you relief from the sun such as a tree or another person. Drink liquid slowly to reduce your risk of dehydration and take ibuprofen if needed for pain relief until the symptoms go away.
One of the most important things you can do when camping is to protect yourself from ticks. Each year, ticks spread many diseases, and the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) has reported that Lyme disease has tripled in the past two decades.
The good news is that there are steps that you can take to avoid getting a tick bite when you are camping. The first thing you can do to keep ticks away from you is to wear long sleeves, pants and closed-toe shoes when you are out in the woods. This will keep the ticks away from your arms, legs and feet, which is where they are more likely to bite you.
If you can, use permethrin-treated clothing and gear. Or use insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535 or lemon eucalyptus oil, which will repel ticks and other insects.
One of the most important things to do when camping is to keep a close eye on your surroundings. Animals, especially those that are rabid, can easily injure you. One of the most common animal-related injuries are bites. In fact, there are over 2,000 reported cases of animal bites each year. That’s why it’s important to know how to avoid them.
Here are a few tips to help you avoid animal bites when you’re camping.
- Wear long pants and long sleeves
- Stay away from bees’ nests
- Avoid swimming in stagnant water
- Wear high boots
- Bring a whistle
- Use bear spray
- Stay away from animals you don’t know
- Don’t feed animals
- Don’t sleep on the ground
- Don’t pet wild animals
- Don’t let your pets roam free
- Keep your distance from wild animals
- Don’t pat or pick up a wild animal
- Don’t wear jewelry
- Keep your distance from snakes
- Walk only in well-lit areas
Take note: if you are bitten by a dog or another small animal out in the wild, remember that they might have rabies. Rabies could be fatal if it goes untreated, so make sure you immediately seek medical attention (even if it was just a minor bite).
If an animal bites you and doesn’t have rabies and is not acting aggressively, try to scare them away and clean the wound with water. If the animal has rabies, call your local authorities immediately.
You can use insect repellant to help ward off any bugs from biting you. If you do get bitten, wash the area thoroughly with soap and water before applying an antiseptic solution or a hydrocortisone cream. If the bite is itchy, you should be able to find relief by taking over-the-counter antihistamines such as Benadryl or Claritin. Calamine lotion or aloe vera can also help lessen the itching.
If you have an allergic reaction to the bite and it starts blistering, weeping, or turning red, it is recommended that you seek professional medical attention immediately.
Sprains and twisted ankles
Another type of injury is spraining your ankle. Sprain is a general term that describes an injury to the ligaments that connect the bones in a joint. Sprains can occur in any joint, but are most common in the ankle, knee, and wrist. A sprain can be a mild injury that may only take a few weeks to heal, or a severe injury that can permanently damage the joint.
To prevent this type of injury, make sure to wear appropriate footwear and remember that uneven surfaces can pose a danger to your ankles. If you do end up with a sprained ankle while camping, resting and immobilizing the ankle and packing the ankle in ice will be helpful in speeding up recovery time and reducing pain.
Frostbite is a serious injury that can happen when you are in a cold environment. Signs of frostbite include:
- Red skin or waxy looking skin
- Frozen feeling of the part of the body affected
- A numb spot
- A change in skin color
- Extreme pain
- Loss of feeling in the area affected by frostbite.
If you think you have frostbite, it’s important to get medical attention as soon as possible. If allowed, remove any constrictive clothing from around the area and place it in warm water.
If the area is exposed to cold for an extended period of time, take the person to a warmer environment and try to rewarm them gradually. Do not rub or massage the area as this can damage tissue inside.
A Final Word on Common Injuries to Prepare For When Camping
Preparation is the key to any successful camping trip. The best way to stay safe is to know what to watch for and how to handle the situation. Camping safety is a vital aspect of every vacation to guarantee you have uninterrupted rest and recreation time out in the great outdoors.
Always keep in mind to bring a first aid kit and brush up on some basic first aid skills to avoid future injuries.