10 Common Camping Hazards And How To Deal With Them

Rilor Staff
Update: July 17, 2021
Table of Contents

When camping, all the things that go into your head are how to have fun. Of course, that's one of the primary reasons why this outdoor activity is a never-ending trend. Leisure, adventure, expeditions--you name it. They are the magnets that attract people to head out and be off-the-grid. 

However, it's not all fun and games when it comes to camping. Hazards and risks are always looming in the corner. Unfortunately, even the most careful and prepared campers aren't that immune to SHTF situations. Sometimes, they are inevitable. 

To stay afloat in the face of these emergencies, you need to know what they are first. In this way, you can take the necessary measures to prevent and overcome them. 

Common Camping Hazards And How To Deal With Them

Poison Ivy

Poison ivy is one of the most common threats to people who enjoy the outdoors. While many people consider it a harmless plant, others find it to be extremely harmful. Poison ivy, or Toxicodendron radicans, is an evergreen shrub that can grow from one to four feet tall.

Commonly mistaken for a vine, this leafy plant has tan or yellow berries at the end of its branches. The plant produces milky juice that is highly toxic, even for non-poison ivy-sensitive individuals. Poison ivy is capable of spreading by seeds, roots, and above all by means of spores, which travel through the air and are carried by wind currents.


  • Apply alcohol to the affected area
  • Cold compress
  • Don't scratch your skin
  • Use topical creams and lotions
  • Take antihistamines
  • Take a bath

Lyme Disease

Lyme disease used to be a relatively uncommon vector-borne disease in the United States. However, increasing numbers of people—including campers, hikers, bicyclists, and others—have been exposed to this disease in the great outdoors. 

Lyme disease is caused by bacteria that are transmitted by the bite of infected ticks. These are commonly found in the woods but can also enter a home through cracks in the foundation or through window screens. Symptoms of Lyme disease typically begin with a bullseye rash, which is sometimes accompanied by fever and fatigue. Once the rash appears, it may appear in the form of circular or oval shapes. Often, there will be a red ring that surrounds the site of the rash. 


  • Wear long garments when camping or going outdoors
  • Apply insect repellent


  • Lyme disease is treated with antibiotics. Hence, the intervention of physicians is necessary to prevent the disease from spreading.


Camping is a wonderful way to spend time with friends and family, but it can also be dangerous when bears are in the area. Bears are intelligent, predatory animals, and if left alone, they will usually avoid people. 

However, if they are accustomed to people, they might target people for food. And that will put you in danger, too. If you enjoy camping, you should not be too afraid of bears, but you should still take precautions.


  • Don't hike at dusk or dawn. 
  • Always be alone. Be in a group while you are hiking or trekking. 
  • Try to make noises while you are on the move. But don't use whistles and bells. 
  • Bring bear spray at all times.
  • If you see bear cubs, stay away from them.
  • Never approach bears. 

Discouraging bears:

  • Don't leave your food outside.
  • Implement proper food storage methods so that you'll never be targeted by bears.
  • Put fragrant and odorous items far away from your tent.


Many people go camping without planning to prepare for the elements, with the result that tents and other shelters may become too cold during the night. This is hypothermia, and it is a very dangerous condition with potentially lethal results. 

Hypothermia is a dangerous condition that can occur when the body's temperature drops below the critical levels.  Symptoms can include irrational behavior, confusion, slurred speech, and lack of coordination. If the victim is left alone in the cold for too long, he or she can become unconscious and even die.  You may be able to prevent hypothermia by taking some simple precautions.


  • Check the weather forecast first before heading out.
  • Be equipped with sufficient insulation.
  • Wear the right gear for cold weather.
  • Stack your body with enough calories, fat, and carbohydrates.
  • Don't wear cotton; instead, pick wool and synthetic fabrics.
  • Bring extra clothes. 


  • Be gentle in handling a person who is suffering from hypothermia. 
  • Take out the wet clothing and change it with dry ones.
  • Wrap the body with blankets.
  • Shield the body from cold surfaces.
  • Give warm food or beverages. 
  • Apply warm and dry compress. 


If you've been camping anywhere, you've probably seen the dreaded mosquito. It's not only a nuisance but also potentially dangerous. These critters are attracted to carbon dioxide and your scent.

Mosquitoes are blood-sucking insects that can be found in an array of different habitats, including jungles, tropical forests, deserts, and wetlands. Due to its variety of habitats, the mosquito has been found on every continent except Antarctica. They are potentially dangerous, especially if they spread fatal diseases like dengue and malaria. Immediate medical intervention is necessary once a person suffers from these conditions. Symptoms like recurring fever, nose bleeding, and skin rashes are the sign that you need to rush someone to the nearest health facility. 


  • Settle on a dry camping site; don't go near areas with stagnant bodies of water.
  • Cover yourself with the appropriate camping clothing.
  • Don't put up scents to avoid attracting mosquitoes. 
  • Use mosquito repellents on your skin.
  • Set a campfire.
  • Always shut your tent's doors and windows.


When it comes to camping and backpacking, we usually take a lot of water with us. That's because we're all aware of the risks of dehydration, including heat exhaustion. They can lead to heat stroke and hyponatremia, which, in turn, results in death and permanent brain damage. When we're out in the wilderness, it is very easy to forget that we need to make sure we're getting enough water to drink. And that's something that you need to avoid at all costs.


  • Drink water before the trip.
  • Veer off from alcoholic drinks before hiking or trekking.
  • Drink water before you feel thirsty.


  • Take oral rehydration salts.
  • Bring a water filter on extended trips; they will let you drink nearby sources of water without getting poisoned or infected.
  • Rest and don't rush things. 


Snakes are among the most dangerous of all wild predators. Hikers and campers should be aware of the ways these animals may be found slithering along during their travels. Snakes are most often found in areas where humans and prey animals are present, such as hiking trails, farmlands, or woodlands. In some cases, snakes may be lured into a personal campsite or garage. 

Depending on the kind of snake, a bite can be fatal. Sometimes, it doesn't take an hour before their venom wrecks your body. Prevention is always the best defense when it comes to snake bites. You would want to steer away from these creatures before any tragedy can take place.


  • Choose a snake-free camping ground
  • Clear the clutter around your campsite. 
  • Learn proper food storage methods.
  • Make sure that there are no holes in your tent where the snakes can enter.
  • Shake your sleeping bag before and after using it. 
  • Cover critical areas such as your legs, ankle, and feet with rugged clothing.
  • Always be wary where you are walking. Be mindful of your surroundings.
  • Spray insect repellent. Alternatively, you can pour vinegar on the perimeter of your campsite.
  • Don't provoke or stay too close to the snake. Treat all snakes as dangerous. 

What to do when you are bitten:

  • Call emergency hotlines such as 911.
  • Remain calm when bitten. 
  • Take out any restrictive clothing or accessories that can cause swelling in the bitten area.
  • Use an immobilization bandage as quickly as possible. 
  • Don't suck the blood. 


It's a fact that lightning is a serious camping hazard. More than a few campers have lost their lives as a result of it, with even more lightning victims left with permanent injuries or disabilities. A risk of getting struck by lightning while camping comes from the fact that many of us campers have no idea where lightning bolts might strike us at any given moment. Unfortunately, it's almost impossible to detect lightning before it starts its strike.


  • Always check the weather. Forecasts can tell you if there's a possibility of lightning storms. 

How to stay safe when there's a lightning storm:

  • Don't stay near objects that are taller than their surroundings, such as trees, boulders, and posts. Canopies are safe as long as they have a uniform height. 
  • Steer away from conductors like metal objects and wet items. 
  • Distance yourself from metallic equipment such as fishing poles, crampons, and climbing tools.
  • Go out from the water. 
  • Don't stick together if you are camping in groups.
  • Curl down. Do the "lightning position."
  • Once you hear roaring thunder, it is time that you should head back to your shelter. 

Getting Lost

Camping is a great way to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life—there's something peaceful and rejuvenating about being surrounded by nature. But, for many people, it can also be a scary experience. That's especially true when it comes to getting lost in the woods. Again, prevention is better than cure when it comes to this matter. You can always stay on track so that you'll not lose sight of your campsite. 

How to avoid getting lost while camping:

  • Stay on the trail, especially if you are not familiar with your location.
  • Don't camp or hike by yourself. Bring someone with you.
  • Know how to use the map and compass. 
  • Be observant of your surroundings. Try to spot landmarks and easy-to-identify objects because they'll serve as your guiding posts.
  • Bring a whistle with you.
  • Bring a GPS.

What to do if you are lost:

  • Stay calm and keep a level head.
  • Build a campfire. The smoke produced by the fire can help your rescuers spot you.
  • Search for trail marks and other significant landmarks that you can use to guide your way back.
  • Blow your whistle. 
  • Look for a temporary shelter. 
  • Contact someone for help.

Flash Floods

While flash floods are not a problem most of the time, they can be dangerous for people camping in the woods. Although most of these floods are caused by heavy rain, they can also occur due to other natural factors. 

The best way to avoid this disaster is by finding a safe spot. The location should be away from the water and any trees, as the damage will be more severe if the trees start falling. It is recommended to carry a shovel and a tarp or sleeping bag, and an emergency blanket as these will help protect you from the water.

How to avoid flash floods:

  • Check the weather forecast. Do this multiple times in the day.
  • If the atmospheric condition is getting gloomy, start evacuating. Don't leave your safety to chance.
  • Pitch your tent at elevated places.
  • Avoid pitching your tent at the bottom of the hill, ditch, or ravine.
  • Don't be too close to any bodies of water such as rivers. 
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