9 Important Camping Safety Tips For Your Outdoor Adventure

Outdoor Safety Guidelines for Campers

Ontario is a gorgeous province with lots to offer, so it's no surprise that many residents want to venture into the wilderness and disconnect from busy city life. Because of its many beautiful provincial parks, camping in Ontario has become such a popular activity. While camping can be a lot of fun, it's critical to know the importance of camping safety. This is why we put together 9 camping safety tips that can make all the difference in your camping experience.

1. Choose the Right Shelter and Site

As you're considering going on a camping trip, it's important to first consider the location of your destination. Choosing the appropriate camping site can make all the difference in both the fun you have and your safety. There are inherent risks you may encounter depending on the different Ontario parks you decide to visit. More experienced campers might consider more remote locations that may require hiking on rocky terrain or boating to access, where others may enjoy a cabin experience. The safety risks vary but will increase based on the amount of physical activity that is involved.

Additionally, finding the right location becomes dependent on the type of shelter you want to camp in. Some people may only require a tent, while others may prefer RV camping and must find adequate camping grounds to accommodate them. By understanding where you will be travelling and how much space you will have, you can be better prepared and know what camping equipment to pack for the ultimate camping experience. 

2. Prepare for the Weather

Before you pack, it's time to consider the weather conditions you may encounter while on your camping adventure. Which camping season do you prefer: summer or winter? Both can be fun experiences for various reasons, but the items you would need to pack would be drastically different. For example, camping in the winter requires thermal layers of clothing like long-sleeved tops, as well as a 4-season tent to keep you warm. Take a look at the weather forecast to know if you should pack rain gear and a water-resistant tent if there are to be heavy rains. Not only is preparing for rain or snow important, but inclement weather like high heat and humidity can also impact the risk level of your trip. Be sure to pack an adequate supply of sunscreen that is both water-resistant and has a high SPF. Other sun protective gear like wide-brimmed hats and SPF shirts can be useful for protecting your skin from harsh UV rays. Depending on when you decide to go, whether it's in the fall, spring, summer, or winter, tailor the subsequent camping safety tips to the season and weather. 

3. Pack for an Emergency

One of the most important camping safety tips to remember is packing in case of an emergency. We've compiled a checklist for you to pack the appropriate gear and supply kit for staying safe while on a camping getaway.

  • First Aid Kit — One of the most essential items to remember. A First Aid Kit can include sterile gauze pads, adhesive tape and bandages, scissors, fine point tweezers, safety pins, roller bandages, disposable non-latex gloves, allergy and anti-itch medicine, and alcohol-based antiseptic wipes. Should you have a medical condition, include an abundant supply of medication with instructions on the proper dosage and how often it needs to be taken for other campers to reference. 
  • A Map and Compass — These navigational tools are extremely helpful when your cellular reception is weak or when going on a hike and finding your way around a national park. These items help to avoid getting lost in the wilderness. Drop by the visitor centre in your campsite to pick up trail maps and learn about the emergency services and numbers they provide, as well as any emergency access points within your site.
  • A Pocket Knife — These can be used for a variety of reasons, whether it be for preparing food or maintaining camping equipment; you never really know just how practical pocket knives can be until you find yourself in a scenario without one when you really need it. Just confirm it's a foldable knife, so there is no risk of accidentally injuring yourself. 
  • Flashlight and Extra Batteries — It can be a headlamp, an LED lantern, or a traditional hand-held flashlight! Regardless, having a flashlight that is not attached to your phone is super important for the nighttime, especially because the flashlight on your phone drains the battery quickly. Pack more batteries than you may think you should bring because it's always better to have more rather than not enough.
  • Portable Cell Phone Charger — On the topic of batteries, bring a portable charger with you so your phone can always have power. Access to electrical power is not a guarantee when camping. So, having a portable charger is convenient for times when you need to use your phone.
  • A Whistle — If you ever find yourself in a scenario where you seem to be stranded or lost, you can signal for rescue by having a whistle at the ready because it is loud enough that the sound can travel far enough distances and attract the attention of others.
  • Extra Clothing and Blankets —  Having an abundant supply of clothing and blankets can make all the difference should you find that unexpected weather approaches and you need to bundle up to maintain body heat. 

Although this checklist includes many of the critical essentials for camping safety, the area you decide to camp and the activities you plan to do will determine the items that may be required for your safety.

4. Be Familiar with Local Wildlife and Insects

Understanding the natural environments you will be immersed in is crucial for camping safety. Knowing how to be prepared in case you encounter local wild animals and insects makes all the difference. If maintaining a safe distance from dangerous animals proves difficult, having an air horn or bear spray on hand can help keep you safe during an unexpected encounter. To prevent that, recognizing what can be an animal attractant to your campground and minimizing them can keep campers safe. Parks Canada and park staff can often provide more information on any wildlife advisories or animal attractions that increase the risk level of your site.

Additionally, preparing for the type and amount of insects during your camping season can help keep those pesky bugs away. Between mid-May to late June, black flies become more active, especially when it is hot or humid outside. By bringing supplies such as a bug jacket or mesh face coverings, you can reduce the likelihood of being bitten by black flies. Insect repellant like bug spray helps to prevent gnarly mosquito bites from forming. Should one or two slip past the barrier, having After Bite handy can provide relief to any pain. Also, be aware of when the tick season is at its peak and how to identify the types of ticks that can transmit Lyme disease. Avoid long grass and remove any found ticks as soon as possible to significantly reduce the inherent risk of Lyme disease.

5. Maintain Campfire Safety Regulations

An additional camping safety tip to be aware of is your campfire. Making sure to keep your campfire at a safe distance from your tent, any shrubbery, or low-hanging branches ensures that no external factors can catch on fire and decrease the chance of a wildfire from starting. Checking that there are no flammable liquids nearby and always having a bucket of water within reach guarantees a reduced fire hazard. Be sure to always keep an eye on children on your campground and ensure they don’t get too close to the campfire. Never leave your campfire unattended, and always extinguish the fire completely before walking away so it doesn't get out of control. Knowing the local fire danger rating can also determine the possibility of having a campfire versus a charcoal grill or gas stove. 

6. Maintain your Campsite

Be respectful! Both the other campers and natural wildlife rely on the preservation of the campground and the surrounding natural environment. The best rule of thumb is to leave your campground the same way it is when you arrive. That means keep items from lying around and don't litter. Garbage, food scraps, dirty dishes, personal hygiene products, and even dishwater are all examples of things that can be animal attractants and should be cleaned up right away. Food storage is also super important for your safety. To avoid the appearance of wild animals, store all food in an airtight container that is far enough from your tent and think about hanging it from a tree to keep wildlife away.

Maintaining your campsite also means properly setting up your tent and ensuring it's secure in the ground. The last thing you need is for your tent to fly away on a windy day before you have the chance to sleep in it. Having enough pegs and stakes will keep your tent firmly on the ground. 

Additionally, keeping your valuables in a secure spot will help prevent theft from not only unwelcomed animal guests but also unwelcomed humans. Despite park wardens patrolling the grounds to help keep it a safe space, there can be instances of personal belongings going missing. Items should be secured in a lock box that is out of sight or in a locked car.

7. Stay Away from Poisonous Plants

Check to see if the Ontario park you are visiting has a bulletin posted with information on recognizing and identifying poisonous plants like poison ivy or poison sumac. By knowing what these plants look like, you can do your best to avoid accidentally walking through a patch of them. If you happen to find yourself touching the plant — or something that recently fell into it — you should remove the oil immediately by washing the affected area with soap and water or alcohol-based wipes if you do not have access to soap. If you didn't notice and are now experiencing an allergic reaction, applying calamine lotion can help soothe any irritation.

8. Stay Hydrated

The best thing to do on a hot or humid day while camping is to drink plenty of water. Many campsites provide access to water with freshwater taps that can give you an adequate supply. If that's not the case, however, fresh bodies of water can be used to your advantage by adding water purification tablets to your water bottle. Be sure to submerge your bottle deep enough that nothing floating on the surface gets in, and simply add your tablet and let it sit for at least 30 minutes to purify. Staying hydrated is one of the most essential camping safety tips because it is a necessity for keeping healthy during outdoor activities such as exploring hiking trails or canoeing. 

9. Protect your Recreational Items

If you happen to go on a camping adventure that includes bringing your recreational items, not only should you bring safety items such as life jackets for boats or helmets for ATVs and dirt bikes, but you should also consider getting protected in case any accidents occur. If your camping adventure is spent mainly on the water, having boat insurance or seadoo insurance for your personal watercraft can give you peace of mind, knowing you are financially protected should your recreational item get damaged or someone gets hurt. If you plan to bring recreational equipment for the land, acquire ATV insurance for your off-road vehicles, as it is mandatory for use outside private property. And if tent camping is not your thing, get RV insurance or travel trailer insurance to keep safe against potential damage, loss, or liability claims while camping. You can contact Morison Insurance to get a quote for insurance on your recreational items. Our expert team is here to provide you with the best insurance products for your unique needs and help you through the process from start to finish.

Have Fun and Remain Alert!

The best camping safety tips to live by is to have fun and remain alert! Staying safe with these suggestions and precautions allows you to have the perfect, worry-free camping experience. By keeping these camping safety tips in mind, you can avoid potential hazards while enjoying the beautiful scenery that Ontario has to offer!

This content is written by our Morison Insurance team. All information posted is merely for educational and informational purposes. It is not intended as a substitute for professional advice. Should you decide to act upon any information in this article, you do so at your own risk. While the information on this website has been verified to the best of our abilities, we cannot guarantee that there are no mistakes or errors.

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