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Camping is a brilliant way to experience the great outdoors and unplug from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Setting up tents or putting yourself into your unused sleeping bag for a couple of days allows you to reconnect with nature and explore sights that you’ve never seen before.
Though a medical emergency is something no one wants to face on a camping trip abroad. It’s often difficult to access proper medical care while so far from home, and camping in a remote location means you’re likely too far out of range to manage a call for help. Though arming yourself with the proper knowledge of first aid and an understanding of the risks involved with your specific trip, you’ll be properly equipped to resolve an emergency while camping.
The following are a few tips on how to deal with an emergency while camping abroad so that you can keep your cool if it happens to you.
How to Deal with Emergencies While Camping
Use the Tools in Your First Aid Kit
You should never camp without a first aid kit. A simple safety precaution which is an absolute must for every camping trip whether at home or abroad, you’ll be more able to handle medical issues while away if you’re well-stocked with emergency supplies.
Bring any medications that you use, including allergy medications and over-the-counter pain relievers. And make sure you have plenty of gauze, bandages, rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, tweezers, small scissors, tape, etc. that you need to clean and dress wounds, remove ticks, and more.
Take a Class
In addition to carrying a first aid kit and knowing how to use the items within it, it’s also a great idea to take a class on the Heimlich Manoeuvre and CPR before your trip.
These are life-saving techniques that you’ll need at a moment’s notice while you’re far from home on a camping trip.
Pack Your Mobile Phone
Though you may want to unplug while you’re camping, it’s a good idea to pack your mobile phone in case you run into an emergency. Store emergency numbers in your phone and make sure that you also pack your charging cable so you can rest assured you’ll be able to use it.
Even though camping means you may not have cell reception, mobile phones are still handy when you need to make emergency phone calls, and, for instance, US cell carriers are required by the government to accept any and all emergency 911 calls, regardless of your cell phone plan (roaming, bills paid, etc).
It’s possible for you to be out of range of your normal provider’s towers (so it looks like no service) and to have roaming voice disabled, but for the cell to still be able to talk to other towers for emergencies. So take along your mobile phone just in case.
Satellite phones are also an option for remote trips as they are GPS enabled devices that can track your movement and have the capability to send pre-programmed messages to notify friends and family at certain intervals that you are ok, as well as the ability to send SOS requests to law enforcement. If your destination is truly remote, a satellite phone can save your life!
Know How to Treat Hypothermia and Hyperthermia
Lowered or elevated body temperatures can be dangerous, especially when you’re exposed to the elements and you can’t get yourself to a temperature-controlled environment quickly. Therefore, you need to know how to treat both hypothermia and hyperthermia while at your campsite.
This is one of the most crucial things to know about wilderness first aid. The thermometer you packed in your first aid kit will come especially handy in these emergency situations.
Hypothermia: To treat hypothermia, which is a body temperature under 35°C, try to figure out the cause of the drop in temperature. Remove wet clothing items, and replace them with dry clothes. Have the individual drink warm broth or liquids to raise the body temperature, and be ready to leave the campsite for the nearest medical centre if conditions don’t improve.
Hyperthermia: To help someone with an elevated body temperature that may be dealing with dizziness, moistened skin, and nausea, you need to take steps to reduce the dangers of heat stress, heat stroke, and heat exhaustion.
Remove the individual from the sun and go to a shaded area if you don’t have an air-conditioned cabin. You can create shade with a tarp, if necessary. Make sure the person drinks water and removes warm clothes while you call for emergency services to come help or you take the person to the nearest medical centre.
Travel With Health Insurance
Make sure your health insurance is up to date before you head out on a camping trip, and ensure that your policy includes coverage for emergency medical evacuations. Evacuation coverage typically covers expenses associated with a medical emergency that requires you to travel to find the nearest qualified medical facility. It also includes the cost of returning to your home country (in some cases) or back to the country where evacuation occurred.
Emergency medical evacuations are necessary in catastrophic medical events, and as a global traveler you need to be prepared. Though as you can imagine, the expenses associated with such an evacuation are incredibly high. So if you’re hiking and find you need to be airlifted out, or find yourself camping in a location where the medical care is poor or inaccessible, insurance which covers a medical evacuation can save both your life and your wallet.
International Health Coverage with GeoBlue provides fantastic insurance for emergency medical evacuations, and this service is available 24/7 no matter where in the world your camping trip may take you.
I advocate for GeoBlue Insurance because their policies offer the most complete set of benefits and services in the industry and essentially provide a worldwide, all-access pass to an exclusive level of care.
They have an elite network of doctors from most every specialty ready to see you in over 180 countries, and GeoBlue doctors and hospitals bill them directly so you don’t have to even worry about filing a claim, and you don’t have to lay out any cash.
For more information about coverage with GeoBlue, or to obtain a free quote, contact Timothy Jennings at IndividualHealth.com.
A health insurance broker we trust, Timothy has worked in the international and US domestic market for more than 30 years and offers travelers a range of different options on plans and coverage including short-term travel medical (generally less than 6 months), annual renewable coverage for expats, and coverage for business groups worldwide.
The GeoBlue mobile app is also a fabulous tool for locating the medical facilities around your destination. You can prepare for medical emergencies by familiarizing yourself with the contact information of the hospitals and clinic located at your destination. It’s always good to know where the nearest trusted doctor is…just in case!
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Photo credits:First Aid Kit by www.directline.com via DLG Images on Flickr. Sat Phone by Tony Webster. Camping for sunrise by Bureau of Land Management. Everest Base Camp by emifaulk. Pinterest image by Gopal Vijayaraghavan. Previous Pinterest images used: by Christopher Michel.