One of the things we like best about camping is that it gets you out of your comfort zone; away from the familiar pots and pans of the kitchen, the comfy bed and the four walls that keep us safe but also keep us in. Facing up to the challenges that a night or two outdoors brings always makes you feel braver, more capable and a little bit wilder – and makes you appreciate that comfy bed all the more for having had a break from it.
The best way to get the best out of the wilderness is to make sure that you’re prepared for anything it throws at you. Being ready to deal with the dangers means that they won’t become a big deal or put you off camping again. This is especially important if you’re camping with kids, as one really bad camping trip can put them off going again for a while; however, don’t be disheartened if your next trip is an absolute disaster – kids are more resilient than you think.
We’ve organised our stay-safe tips into categories: at the beach, at a campsite and wild camping. If you can think of any other categories you’d like us to cover just let us know.
General camping safety tips
Never, ever leave a disposable or portable barbecue to cool down inside your tent. As there’s no flue to transport fumes away, these will stay in your tent and can be fatal.
Using a woodburning stove when camping is a great way to teach kids about fire safety in a safe environment. Teach them about keeping a safe distance away from the stove even when it’s not lit; you could even get them to suggest the best way of keeping people away, like marking out a barrier.
Staying safe at a campsite
Watch out for guy ropes at night. Making your way through a forest of tents to find your own can be treacherous, so take a torch with you for those midnight toilet trips.
Campsites will be much more crowded than a wild camping pitch, so take care when lighting your barbecue: make sure it’s well away from other tents and campers. Once you’re finished with it, leave it to cool somewhere it won’t be stepped on (ouch!) – but NEVER leave it to cool down in or near your tent.
Staying safe on the beach
If you’re pitching a tent on the beach, make sure you’re well behind the tide line. No one wants to wake up in the morning to a half-submerged tent!
Pitch your tent in the lee of some dunes to keep you protected from the wind.
Staying safe wild camping
Foraging can be a great way to make a meal from scratch, especially if you’re camping somewhere secluded where the plants are unlikely to be affected by contaminants or exhaust fumes. However, never eat anything unless you’re completely certain you know what it is. If in doubt, leave it.
Pitching up near a water source is a good idea to keep you supplied with water for washing, cooking and making tea, but if you’re camping with young kids make sure they know to stay well away unless they’re supervised by an adult, and what to do in case anyone falls in.