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How to Prepare for Emergencies on a Camping Trip with Friends

Travel Team | May 6, 2022

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Camping along the water.

Each year, thousands of Americans head outdoors to camp, boat, fish, hunt, and enjoy nature. Camping is a fun, relaxing, and often exhilarating experience. Sharing the great outdoors with your friends is a unique opportunity to bond, share new experiences, and build memories that will last a lifetime.

While you enjoy your adventures, it's important to be aware of potential emergency medical scenarios and how to reduce the risks during camping. That way, you can enjoy your time in the wild with the comfort of knowing that your squad is well prepared, even if the ground you sleep on is not quite as comfortable.

Specific Health Challenges to Prepare for When Camping

Camping in colorado

As a responsible member of a camping group, it's important to know what types of emergencies may arise during your camping trip.

Accidents can happen 

You could step on a slippery rock and trip and fall, or a member of the group could cut themselves with a knife. It’s best if someone is first aid trained, especially if the activities carry higher risk.

Heat exhaustion, sunburn, and dehydration can creep up on you

It’s important to drink plenty of water. Wear sunscreen and protective clothing, and take breaks from the sun when you can.

Wild animal attacks are rare, but be sensible

Don't leave food in your tent or where animals can get it, even if you're close to your campsite. Keep your campsite clean, and store food in your vehicle or in tie-up bags hung from trees to keep it away from bears. Also, don't allow pets to roam off-leash — they can anger wild animals or carry diseases that can harm wildlife. And don't feed the animals, especially not the bears!

Hypothermia and frostbite are possible

Wear layers of warm clothing and keep dry when you're camping in cold weather. Stay inside a shelter during storms and blizzards.

Allergies specific to your group need attention

If anyone in your squad is allergic to bee stings, poison oak, or other plants in the area, know how to use epinephrine auto-injectors, known more commonly as EpiPens. These can save lives in emergency situations when administered promptly.

Look after your feet to keep blisters at bay

Blisters are common when hiking or just using new shoes. Make sure everyone keeps their feet clean and dry and protects them with suitable footwear.

Proper hygiene and hood prep help avoid food poisoning

Eat only food that's been stored at the right temperature. Cook meats thoroughly before eating them. Wash your hands before preparing food and after using the bathroom. Clean up spills immediately. Only drink water that has been purified or boiled.

Sudden illness can surprise you

Flu, COVID-19, and other illnesses can be more dangerous when you’re camping because you're away from medical care. Make plans for getting to a health care facility or back home in a medical emergency.

Plan for pre-existing medical conditions

If someone in your team has severe asthma, diabetes, heart disease, or another chronic condition, they should plan ahead to manage these conditions while camping and discuss their plans with a doctor.

Practical Tips to Prepare for Your Group’s Camping Adventure

Whether you're hiking a trail in a national park or enjoying a picnic by a river or lake, you should have some basic knowledge and a plan to prevent and treat injuries and illnesses that might occur during your trip. Here are some practical tips on things you can do and items you can take to feel prepared for every eventuality.

Things to do before you arrive

Group of friends hiking in the mountains.
  • Make sure group members are wearing any necessary medical identification, such as bracelets or necklaces that identify medical conditions.

  • Get familiar with the area where you'll be camping. Know the plants and animals that call the place home.

  • When you arrive, choose a meeting place near your campsite in case people get separated from the group.

  • Keep an eye on the weather before and during your trip.

  • If group members need medication, know where those medications are and when they need to take them.

  • If a person has a serious medical condition, make sure you know what to do in case of an emergency.

  • Know where the nearest medical facility is and how you'll get there.

Things to take with you

  • Have a sleeping bag with the correct temperature rating.

  • Don't forget the sunscreen.

  • Consider purchasing a hand-cranked or solar-powered charger and/or a portable battery pack.

  • Consider carrying an alternative communication device, such as a satellite phone or six-feet amateur radios, in case of emergencies.

  • Consider bringing walkie-talkies for communicating between your party members.

  • Pack suitable clothing and footwear for both the weather and the terrain.

First aid supplies to pack

  • Bandages and dressings of various sizes

  • Gauze pads and rolls of gauze bandage material

  • Antiseptic pads and wipes

  • Insect repellent

  • Cold packs or instant ice packs for sprains or strains

  • Antibiotic ointment for minor wounds such as blisters or insect bites

  • Scissors, tweezers, safety pins, and needle-nose pliers with blunt ends for removing ticks, splinters, or bee stingers

  • Standard medicines, such as aspirin or acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil/Motrin), antihistamines, and antidiarrheal medication

  • An adequate supply of prescription medication

  • An emergency blanket that reflects body heat. Look for dual-sided blankets with a bright orange exterior for extra visibility.

Have a safety contact person

Remember to tell someone where your camping group is going, when you plan to be back, and where they can reach you if needed. If possible, leave a detailed itinerary and map with friends or family. If you're unable to return when expected, contact your safety contact person if you can.

Get Trip Protection and Travel Medical Insurance.

You never know what could happen on a trip, and the last thing you want is to be stuck with a huge bill when you get home. Trip protection insurance plans can reimburse you for lost luggage or travel cancellation and interruption, or even offer emergency medical evacuation. Travel health insurance can provide medical benefits while traveling abroad. Before going on your camping trip, consider the advantages of insurance coverage. Seven Corners can help you figure out the best options so you have the right plan in place.

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