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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.
Great tips Megan! I’m not really a camper myself, but I think this advice is something all travellers should listen to. I really must learn some first aid!
Glad you found them useful Lizzie! First aid is definitely a skill which you should have on hand for any travels, not just camping, so totally recommend getting yourself enrolled in a course :) Could come in very handy one day! Safe travels :)
So much good information here. Thanks for sharing.
I think it’ll come in handy, even if you are just travelling.
Glad you found the post resourceful Jeffrey :) And absolutely – first aid should be knowledge every traveler keeps handy even if they’re not camping :) Safe travels!
Ive always loved camping, but haven’t done it in ages! The hubby and I starting to talk about it though. These are great tips and important reminders. Interesting about the emergency medical evacuation insurance. I’m hearing more and more about it, sometimes from people who have actually needed to use it, too. Definitely worth consideration.
We just spent the weekend camping in the Channel Islands and had a wonderful time. Luckily we didn’t run into any troubles, though emergency medical evacuation is definitely something which is not only important re safety, but also for that peace of mind knowing you’re covered when you’re traveling somewhere that remote.
Let us know if you have any specific questions regarding the insurance and we would be happy to help :) Safe travels and happy camping!
It’s definitely best to be prepared in these situations! Though I love the outdoors, I’m not too big on camping myself, but I have many friends and family that LOVE camping (it’s a pretty big thing to do in the summer here!). Having travel insurance is definitely a good idea. Better to be prepared!
Absolutely, always better to be safe than sorry! Make sure your friends are covered with medical evac insurance for their next trip :) Safe travels!
All great tip. Doing a local outdoor first aid course is a great idea if you’re living or staying in another country for a while. In Australia there are a whole host of things to be aware of that just didn’t exist in NZ and knowing how to deal with a medical emergency (or just how to remove a leach that some how got in your boot -ewww) makes me feel a whole lot better about being out there.
Absolutely – first aid really does vary depending on which country you’re in because there are so many different hazards which you may not have previously been aware of in your home country. So always good to have a basic knowledge, to research the country you’re heading to before hand, and of course be completely covered with insurance which means you’ve got treatment no matter where in the world you are.
PS HATE Australian leeches lol they’re the devil on camping trips!!
I went on the Inca Trail a year ago and somebody in my group fell ill. It turned out he actually had a condition, and despite that he did not carry any medications with him. The poor porters had to take him all the way down to Aguas Calientes on a stretcher, a full day hike (to then come back to actually serve the group, for which they had been hired). We all felt really bad for the porters and their extra work, especially because all of that could have been avoided by just being a bit more sensible about his illness and planning in advance a little. I have asthma and NEVER travel without my medications or health insurance and knowing first aid definitely helps.
WOW why would you not travel with medication if you have a pre-existing medical condition :O!!! That’s really shocking planning on his part, I would have felt so sorry for the porters as well.
Just goes to show how vital something like health insurance is as a back-up if you fall victim to your own stupidity!!
Mother Nature rarely discriminates, so it’s best to be prepared. Your tips on hypo and hyperthermia are most helpful, as these are the situations in which many tend to get into trouble due to lack of preparedness or accident.
Absolutely – nature doesn’t care who you are, so no-one should travel unprepared. I actually learnt a thing or two about hypo and hyperthermia when putting together this post as well. You’re absolutely right that these situations specifically are where most get into trouble because of a lack of awareness.
Thanks for stopping by Betsy!
Taking a first aid class is so important – not only for camping but all kinds of travel. If nothing else, it helps to keep you calm under the stress of the moment, which is worth a lot in an emergency situation. Fortunately we haven’t had any camping emergencies yet but we’re always prepared.
Absolutely – we totally advocate for knowledge of first aid in all travel scenarios, it doesn’t apply to strictly camping.
You’ve hit the nail on the head – the majority of the time it’s for the peace of mind knowing that you have a situation under control – staying calm in an emergency situation is most vital, and stress only makes matters worse.
Very glad to hear you haven’t yet encountered any emergency situations, and very glad to hear you’re always prepared! Travel safe Vanessa :)
Great list. I don’t go camping, but many of your tips are excellent for any travel, especially if you might be driving for long distances.
Glad you found the post resourceful Michele. Absolutely the tips here apply to general travel settings beyond camping. Travel safe and enjoy the road!
These are fantastic tips. I keep meaning to do a first aid course. I learnt how to do mouth to mouth… when I was 10!!! I would have no idea how to do it now. We’ve been on so many camping trips with just a first aid kit and honestly I’d have no idea how to use it.
The Geo insurance – is that just for Americans? Or is it health coverage for anyone on the road? Might need some for Shawn for a longer term visitor visa for Australia (we think we cn get him one for 12 months, so we’ll be back sooner this year if so!), but we need good medical coverage for him.
Definitely enroll yourself in a refresher course for first aid – having a kit on you is awesome, and the majority of the time you’ll be able to figure it out through common sense, though definitely much better if you’ve been trained with the know-how for how to use everything inside :)
Health coverage with GEoBlue is for anyone on the road – they’re an international provider who are just based primarily in the US, though they provide coverage worldwide, so highly recommend getting a quote for Shawn’s travel through Aus. Their coverage really is just the most extensive I’ve found, so you’ll be in good hands.
Shoot Tim at Individual Health an email and let him know we sent you :)
I have never camped on my own, only on gudied treks with sherpas and similar, will definitely consider this the next time I go camping, thanks! :D
Even for when you’re camping on a guided tour – always best to have knowledge of first aid and coverage just in case the sherpa’s dont, or there’s a language barrier etc. Always better to be safe than sorry :)
We LOVE camping and don’t do it nearly enough. We have a camping bin in our shed ready to go with all of the essentials… or so I thought… we’ve never traveled with a first-aid kit. Thanks for the tips. Looks like we need to stock our bin with some additional and useful supplies!
Definitely add a first aid kit to that camping bin – might just come in handy one day; hopefully not but it’s always better to be prepared! Happy camping!
We camped a lot as kids. Not so much recently. Although we will read this again before we next go as it’s a great refresher course in camping safety.
Hope you have the opportunity to get in some more camping in the future – truly is the best way to re-connect with nature and so much fun! Brings back childhood memories for me too :)
Though I have yet to camp I appreciate the tips, especially treating hypothermia! All essential items in an emergency of any sort!
Absolutely – all of these tips and skills can be translated to all travel situations in general. Glad you found the tips helpful Andrea :) Happy travels!
Great tips! Camping is great fun but it’s always a good idea to take precautions.
In anything you do! :)
great tips! Thanks for putting this together!
Glad you enjoyed the post Joe – let us know if you have any other questions!
Great tips! Pretty handy even when not out camping but just travelling in general.
Absolutely – all great tips to take into consideration for an emergency of any sort :)
Great advice! We love camping and it’s always good to have some safety reminders like this! Can’t wait for the weather to get warm enough around here so we can get out and start camping again!
So glad to hear! Happy Camping Jenna!
I don’t particularly like camping. But I do love the outdoors. I especially like your tips to make camping a better experience. All travelers should have a basic idea about first aid.
Absolutely re all travelers having a basic idea of first aid – the above tips definitely apply to all outdoor situations as well :)
Such great tips. I actually now own a hypothermia bag, after having several incidents on my watch in Lapland! Ugh, its not a lot of fun to deal with, but it happens. These are great tips for camping, for sure.
I can imaging that would have been a huge concern up in the arctic circle – I’m glad to hear though that you were prepared and came out unscathed :)
Although I’m not keen on camping, I find these tips useful in many situations.
Absolutely – having a knowledge of first aid is so important for travel in general; so glad you found the tips resourceful even though you’re not an avid camper :) Travel safe!
These are very important tips! Thanks for sharing it with us! Just in case we go camping. :)
Glad we could help! Happy camping!
Such an important post! Thanks for sharing this great information! Will file for later!
Glad to help! Let us know if you need any other tips or advice :)
I love to camp. Also a good one would be to research wildlife in the area and always tie up your food! :)
Absolutely – great tip Alli! We just spent time camping in the Channel Islands and the island foxes were particularly friendly if you had food around!!
Some good advice here! I love getting outdoors and away from it all, but you’re right. You need to be safe. Us modern humans don’t last long away from civilisation! :)
Glad you found it helpful Peter! And lol totally agree – we sometimes become far too comfortable in our modern environment we forget how to survive outside it!
Great tips and insurance is a good idea for any trip. I always carry a good first aid kit (sister is a nurse so I’m covered for supplies!) but I could do with brushing up on emergency care skills. Thanks for sharing
So glad to hear you’re always packed with a first aid kit Kate – one of the most important things you can pack, especially for camping :)
Something I’d like to add about first aid kits… Don’t just buy it and throw it in with the rest of your stuff. Actually open it and familiarize yourself with what’s in it. It would suck to have an emergency and you can’t even get the wrapping off because you’re rushing and fumbling around…
Absolutely – fantastic tip Vicky. A first aid kit is no use after-all if you don’t know how to use anything inside it!
Great tips Meg! Especially regarding hypothermia… I think it’s something a lot of people just kind of brush off and don’t really consider.
Only needs to happen the once! Glad you found the post helpful Hannah. Hopefully you won’t find yourself in a situation where you have to use it, though it’s essential to be prepared just in case :)
A great read for anyone who spends a lot of time in the wilderness…thanks for sharing Meg!
Glad you found it helpful – thanks Mary!
I agree that traveling with insurance is so important. We are getting ready for a camping trip in Peru and will need to do more checking to make sure we’re fully covered. Thanks for all of the great info!
Let us know if you have any questions, and remember to read the insurance fine print :) And have a great trip!
Such a perfect timing to read this since I will be going on a road trip in few weeks! Camping in the national parks will be our main accommodation for the entire week, so thank you for the tips!
Well I’m glad we could help prepare you! Have a great trip – camping in National Parks is great as you also have the helpful addition of a ranger :) Happy camping!
I have never camped in places where this situation might occur, but you really never know what can happen when it’s just you and the elements. Now I’m even more paranoid about camping! Oyyy thanks though:) Good tips to have handy!
Oh no, don’t be paranoid about camping! I promise it’s very very safe – and super fun too :) Just practice common sense when it comes to safety and you’ll be totally fine. It’s generally the places you least expect something to happen when it does, so it’s always a good idea to be prepared :)
Great advice for anyone going camping, especially in a remote area! It’s important to have a communications plan as well as your basic survival skills mapped out so in the event of an emergency you can act quick! Thanks for sharing.
Thanks Brian :) Absolutely – having a plan in place for communications and survival skills is so important – trying to figure out a plan of action on the fly is worst case situation when faced with an emergency.
Glad you enjoyed the post :)
Ecstatic that I found this blog! Finally, I can now camp with peace of mind that I have camping tips that can help me in case of emergencies. At least, I will be prepared. Thank you! Great work!
Glad we could set you up with enough tips to camp with peace of mind :) Happy camping!
Awesome guide. There are definitely threats to safety on any camping trip, whether it be on the outskirts of a city or deep in the wilderness. Ensuring you have the proper tools/knowledge as well as the ability to call the nearest emergency services will make a huge difference if disaster does strike.
Thanks Heather :) Absolutely – it’s so important to be prepared in all situations and have properly researched the environment you’re heading into :) Happy travels!
This is really essential and important. I’ve been going camping for the last 3 months and now I’m just learning this. But anyway, it’s a good read indeed. Thank you for sharing such an informative post. Will surely apply and take note of this.
Thanks Krystal, so glad the information here is helpful for you, and that you’ve been enjoying your camping! Hope 2018 brings more incredible adventures for you :)
This is one of those instances where you just can’t sigh and say “I wish I have taken a class and learn more about it” because that would already be too late. Knowing a thing or two about first aid keeps you and your loved ones safe.
Absolutely, being prepared is so important when you’re heading out for time in the outdoors – when you’re not prepared, or don’t know what you’re doing, or don’t have the tools and knowledge for staying calm in emergency situations, it can really cost you. First aid education all the way!