8 ways to stay safe while camping

8 ways to stay safe while camping

Be pre­pared on your next adven­ture in South Australia’s wild and won­der­ful nation­al parks with these safe­ty tips.

There’s so much to love about camp­ing in the great out­doors. The fresh air, the sounds of nature, bush­walks and the escape from dig­i­tal devices are just some of the rea­sons to throw the tent in the back of the car and head for the bush.

Amid the excite­ment of prepar­ing for your camp­ing adven­ture, don’t for­get that nation­al parks are wild places and that it’s impor­tant to con­sid­er your safety.

Here are some tips to help you plan a safe and enjoy­able camp­ing trip:

1. Be aware of any risks around your tent

You’ve arrived at your des­ti­na­tion and are about to ham­mer in the first tent peg. Before you do, make sure you have a look around and con­sid­er the risks in the imme­di­ate area.

Avoid camp­ing direct­ly under large gum trees. Some species are sus­cep­ti­ble to drop­ping large branch­es at any time. The last thing you want is a branch drop­ping on top of your tent in the mid­dle of the night.

Con­sid­er where water will drain in the event of rain. Avoid camp­ing in creek beds and over ditch­es where water may pool.

If you’re camp­ing with chil­dren, con­sid­er set­ting up away from poten­tial dan­gers like rivers, creeks, or steep drop-offs.

And always look out for ant nests! It’s no fun set­ting up your tent on top of a horde of angry ants.

Top tip: Find and book your per­fect camp­site on the Nation­al Parks South Aus­tralia website.

(Image cour­tesy of the South Aus­tralian Tourism Commission)

2. Bring plen­ty of food and water

Make sure you bring plen­ty of water with you for drink­ing and wash­ing. Most parks are not con­nect­ed to mains water, so espe­cial­ly after dry con­di­tions, you can­not rely on water being avail­able in the park’s rain­wa­ter tanks. Bear in mind, tank water is not treat­ed so it’s not suit­able for drinking.

If you are tak­ing food that needs to be kept cold, invest in a qual­i­ty esky and pack enough ice. Food poi­son­ing and camp­ing don’t go well together!

Top tip: Con­sid­er how you’ll store your food. Air-tight con­tain­ers are impor­tant to keep bugs from crawl­ing in. You don’t want your morn­ing corn flakes to come with bonus protein!

8 ways to stay safe while camping

3. Be aware of the weather

Keep an eye on the weath­er and pack accord­ing­ly. Look at both the day-time and night-time tem­per­a­tures as warm sun­ny days can turn into frosty cold nights. You may need sun­glass­es, hats, and sun­screen dur­ing the day and thick socks, track­ies and a warm jumper at night. 

Top tips:Check out 8 camp­ing essen­tials to take on your next trip

4. Have First Aid equip­ment available

Many of our parks are in remote loca­tions, so med­ical aid can be far away. It’s a good idea to camp with some­one who has First Aid train­ing, and an even bet­ter idea is to be trained yourself.

In the event that some­thing goes wrong and you need to treat an injury, a com­pre­hen­sive and well-stocked First Aid kit is essential.

When head­ing out on a bush­walk, you might not be able to car­ry a big First Aid kit. Grab some sup­plies to throw in your back­pack such as ban­dages and some anti­sep­tic cream to clean up any scratch­es, bites or cuts you might pick up on the trail.

8 ways to stay safe while camping

5. Know what ser­vices are available

Do some research to know where help is avail­able. Know­ing where the local hos­pi­tal is locat­ed and how to get there could save pre­cious time. If you’re camp­ing in fire dan­ger sea­son, take some time to work out your evac­u­a­tion plan.

Many nation­al parks have no or lim­it­ed mobile phone cov­er­age. Have a look at your network’s cov­er­age map to work out where you can go to make an emer­gency phone call if you need­ed to. It’s also a great idea to let friends and fam­i­ly know of your plans and when you expect to be home. 

Avoid get­ting lost by hav­ing access to maps, espe­cial­ly if you are head­ing out on bush­walks. Park maps are avail­able to down­load for free from the Nation­al Parks South Aus­tralia web­site and the Aven­za Maps app.

8 ways to stay safe while camping

6. Keep your eye out for wildlife

As well as keep­ing an eye out for drop bears, remem­ber it’s the small­er crit­ters that will like­ly cause the most prob­lems. Mos­qui­toes, ticks and oth­er insects can bite and cause irri­ta­tion and, in rare cas­es, car­ry diseases.

Using insect repel­lent, wear­ing long-sleeved tops and long pants will help pre­vent bites. Make sure you keep the fly screens on tents closed when­ev­er pos­si­ble and don’t leave open water and drink con­tain­ers around your camp­site as they can attract thirsty insects.

Dur­ing the warmer months, it’s pos­si­ble that you will come across snakes. Snakes are gen­er­al­ly shy and will not attack unless pro­voked, so it’s best to leave them be. Remem­ber, even lit­tle snakes can be dangerous.

Tips for avoid­ing snakes include stick­ing to the trails, mak­ing a bit of noise when you walk and wear­ing long pants and closed shoes.

Kan­ga­roos, emus, pos­sums, kook­abur­ras and mag­pies may be cute to look at but they can be crafty when it comes to raid­ing your camp­site. Keep­ing your food and rub­bish inside your tent or car will pre­vent Skip­py from feast­ing on your dinner.

Top tip: Keep wildlife wild! It is very impor­tant not to feed wildlife as it can change their nat­ur­al behav­iour to become aggres­sive for food. Human food can also be dif­fi­cult for them to digest and can lead to illness. 

8 ways to stay safe while camping

7. Be fire safe around campfires

Sit­ting around the camp­fire with friends singing a Bön Jovi pow­er bal­lad might be the best thing about camp­ing, but before you strike a match, make sure you know the rules.

Not all parks or camp­grounds allow camp­fires, and dur­ing the fire dan­ger sea­son camp­fires are not allowed in all nation­al parks.

When camp­fires are allowed, there are a few things you need to consider:

Look at your sur­round­ings
Always use des­ig­nat­ed fire places. Fires should only be lit in cleared areas, both above and around the fire. Keep the fire at least 3 metres away from your tent and make sure your camp­ing equip­ment, espe­cial­ly flam­ma­ble items such as aerosols, gas bot­tles and fuel cans, are stored well away.

Check the con­di­tions
If it’s dry and windy, for­get it. Fires can quick­ly escape in these con­di­tions. Vis­it the CFS web­site to check fire dan­ger rat­ings and see whether a Total Fire Ban (TFB) has been declared. TFBs can some­times occur out­side of fire dan­ger season.

Keep an eye on it
Nev­er leave a fire unat­tend­ed, not even for a minute. If you are leav­ing the area, put the fire out prop­er­ly with water. Keep putting water on it until the steam stops and it’s no longer hiss­ing. Do not use soil to put it out as the coals can stay hot for more than 8 hours which can be dan­ger­ous to any­one walk­ing in the area after you have gone.

Watch your kids
Keep a close eye on the kids and teach them how to be safe around fires. Don’t let them poke the fire or throw things into it, and make sure they keep a safe dis­tance. Teach them to assume every­thing around a fire is hot – even the met­al on a near­by camp­ing chair can become unex­pect­ed­ly hot and cause burns.

Keep it sim­ple
Keep fires small and man­age­able. Camp­fires should only be just big enough for cook­ing and keep­ing warm. Make sure the area around the fire is clear of trip­ping haz­ards, and have a buck­et of water and shov­el near­by to put out any poten­tial escapes. Do not use flam­ma­ble liq­uids to start the fire, as it can be extreme­ly dan­ger­ous if there are still hot coals in the fire pit from a pre­vi­ous fire. Remem­ber that col­lect­ing fire­wood with­in nation­al parks is an offence, so you must bring your fire­wood with you.

Top tip: Want to know what to cook on the fire? Check out our favourite camp­fire cook­ing recipes.

8 ways to stay safe while camping

8. Dri­ve safely

Expect the unex­pect­ed! Many of our nation­al parks have large pop­u­la­tions of wildlife that will not give way to you on the roads, so make sure you observe speed lim­its in parks and keep a close eye on the roadsides.

Make a game of it to keep your kids enter­tained – put them on Roo Patrol’ to get them look­ing out the win­dow rather than look­ing down at a screen. Also, try to avoid dri­ving in parks from sun­set to sun­rise as this is when wildlife is most active.

Take care and dri­ve to the con­di­tions, espe­cial­ly on unsealed roads and tracks. Grav­el and dirt road sur­faces can be unpre­dictable so it’s best to slow down to avoid los­ing control.

With so much to see in nation­al parks, at times you’ll want to stop to check out a view and take a pho­to. Just make sure you only stop where it’s safe to do so and keep an eye out for oth­er road-users.

Now that’s sort­ed, are you won­der­ing what to pack? Here are our essen­tials.

Main image: Camp­ing in Mam­bray Creek Camp­ground, Mount Remark­able Nation­al Park

This con­tent was pro­duced in part­ner­ship with  Good Living