Basic Camp Safety

Camping is an enjoyable experience. It is even more enjoyable when everyone keeps safe and is prepared. Here are some tips for keeping safe.

  • Whether camping in a group or on your own, always have an away contact. This is someone who is not going with you and will be available while you are away. They will act an emergency contact or a life line in case something happens. Leave your away contact with the following.
    • Your contact number(s)
    • Your other emergency contacts names and phone numbers
    • Your trip agenda including when and where you plan to be
    • Let them know when they should hear from you to confirm you are alright.
    • Ask them to contact you by a certain time and date if they have not heard from you
    • Provide them with instructions if you haven’t checked-in and they cannot reach you
  • Find local emergency numbers for where you will be. Write them down and keep in a safe place.
  • Create packing list and use it as a check list so that you don’t forget anything crucial.
    • Bring a first-aid kit
    • Sunscreen
    • Bug spray
    • Bug net
    • Afterbite
    • Medication
    • After burn
    • Whistle
  • Campsite set-up
    • Once you arrive at your campsite, decide where your fire, kitchen and tent will be.
      • Be site aware: In a sudden downpour will the river rise and flood my tent? How high will the tide rise? Is there an ant hill?
    • Keep your tent as far away from the fire as possible. You don’t want stray sparks to catch your tent on fire or melt holes into this.
    • Second to this keep your kitchen away from your tent.
    • Ensure your fire is set-up in a safe location. The fire site should be clear of flammable debris and surrounded by rocks or metal shield.
    • Keep a full bucket of water next to the fire, even in fog zones.
    • Ensure tent guy lines are well marked to prevent tripping hazards. I always pack surveyors tape.
    • Keep a clean camp
    • Wash up after every meal (disinfect dishes, especially when camping outside of family unit)
    • Store food in car, food barrels or bear bins
      • If using food barrels, suspend high from a tree
    • Don’t eat or keep food or scented items in tent
    • Dispose of all garbage at designated garbage sites after each meal.
  • Camp behaviour
    • Don’t run or play active games near your fire or tent
    • Don’t bring flammable items like matches, lighters, etc into tent
    • Discuss camp rules and roles with all participants
  • Animals
    • Don’t feed the animals
    • Keep a clean site (see above)
    • Pack out what you pack in. Don’t put others at risk.
    • Insects (Mosquitos, Horse Flies, Ticks, Spiders)
      • Bug spray, bug net, cover your legs and head.
      • Check body and hair each night before going into tent.
      • Carry tick remover. Read up on the proper removal of ticks.
    • Small Animals(Mice, Rats, Squirrels, Chipmunks)
      • These creatures have become accustomed to humans feeding them and scavenging morsels that were missed during cleanup
      • Don’t feed the animals
      • Always close your tent and car doors
      • Cleanup after each meal
      • Store food as per the above
    • Medium Animals (Raccoons, Skunks, Snakes, Birds)
      • Raccoons and some birds behave like small rodents. The same rules apply.
        • If Raccoons are aggressive, don’t approach, be loud and wave large stick. Report to park or ranger office.
        • Read about a raccoon mishap I witnessed here.
      • If you see a skunk chances are they are just passing through or looking for grubs. Let them be and don’t startle them. They will pass through on their own.
      • Most snakes are harmless. Let them be. If you see or hear a rattle snake stay back. These are poisonous. Rattlesnakes are endangered species. Don’t harm them.
    • Larger Animals (Mountain Lions, Cougars, Coyotes, Wolves, Bears, Bison, Moose)
      • Once safe, report all sightings to park or ranger office immediately. This will alert others of potential dangers.
      • Bears: Here is a video.
        • Carry bear spray so that it is easily accessible. This cannot be transported by plane.
        • Carry a air horn.
        • Make lots of noise while hiking. This will help to prevent surprising a bear. Bear balls are not usually loud enough. Have a whistle handy too.
        • If a bear charges. Make yourself as big as possible and talk calmly to it while standing your ground.
        • Do not shout or throw objects. Retreat calmly while reassuring it.
        • If required play dead
      • Cougars/Mountain Lions
      • Coyotes
        • If a coyote approaches shout, make yourself big, throw rocks and other objects while backing away slowly.
        • Prepare to use bear spray.
      • Wolves
        • If you spot a wolf, prepare to use your bear spray and back away slowly. Keep an eye on the wolf.
        • If the wolf approaches, shout, make yourself big, throw rocks and other objects while backing away slowly.
      • Bison
        • There are only few places Bison would be an issue. There are normally plenty signs warning of potential goring.
        • Keep your distance, especially when with babies and slowly retreat to a safe distance.
      • Moose/Elk/Big Horn
        • Keep your distance, especially when with babies. These animals can charge, trample and gore.

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