What to Do in a Camping Crisis
Camping is all fun and games until something goes wrong. No matter where you are in the world, we want you and your family to be safe and comfortable on your camping trip! Here are some of the most common camping disasters and suggestions for how to get out of these sticky situations. Better yet, read our tips on how to avoid these mishaps in the first place, and you and your kids will trek through summer like a boss!
What to do IF:
Your family gets lost while hiking
The first and most important thing you should do is stop and admit that you’re lost. Don’t keep wandering, thinking that you’ll eventually find the right way. Stay in one spot until you have a plan. Try to get a sense of where you are by looking around you. Have your kids look and listen for things that can possibly lead to human interaction (e.g. waterfalls, streams, cars). If you decide to start walking again, it’s best to travel downhill. It will save energy and is more likely to lead to civilization.
Tips to avoid getting lost: Study the area you’ll be hiking in before your trip. Familiarize your kids and yourself with the trails. You can also download offline maps that work without cell reception and still show your GPS location. Or go old school and bring a paper map of the trails with you. Lastly, have everyone make mental notes of landmarks they pass on your hike so you can retrace your steps if needed.
Your kids touch poison ivy or poison oak
The first thing you should do is remove and wash any clothing that may have touched the leaves. After washing their clothes, thoroughly wash your hands and any other skin surface that came into contact with the plant. Urushiol, the oil that causes poison ivy and oak rashes, is very easily transferable, so it’s always a good idea to be overly cautious and wash more things than you think you need to.
There are also some natural remedies that many campers swear by, so give them a try! Some people claim that placing banana peels or oatmeal paste on their rash helps calm it. Depending on what region you’re in, you may also be able to find gumweed (western USA) or jewelweed (eastern USA). Both of these plants contain sap that reduces the effects of urushiol and can relieve itching and inflammation. Have your kids look for these plants around the campsite.
Tips to avoid poison ivy or oak rashes: Before your trip, research the hiking trails and area to see if poison ivy or oak grows there. If so, have the kids wear long sleeves, long pants, and high socks to minimize the amount of bare skin exposed. Show your kids what poison ivy and poison oak look like so that they can recognize them if they come across them on their path.
The wind or rain is making it hard to start a fire
Create a makeshift windbreak with a tarp, pans, blankets, your hands, or whatever else you have. Find which direction the wind is coming from, and gather everyone to shield the fire with the windbreak. If it’s raining, the kids should still be able to find dry kindling at the base of many trees. Branches and leaves will most likely keep the brush at the base of the trunk dry. Even in the wind or rain, you should be able to light the dry kindling as long as you continue shielding your flame with your windbreak!
Tips to avoid fire trouble: Pack old newspapers, old dryer sheets, or firewood to use as kindling. Make sure you have a lighter or matches that are ready for use.
Your kids are attacked by mosquitoes
If you don’t have access to hydrocortisone or other anti-itch creams, you can create makeshift remedies with items you may already have. Mint can be used as a cooling agent for small bug bites. Whether it be freshly crushed mint or minty toothpaste, apply a small dab of mint paste to their bites to relieve itching. If you have basil, you can crush it and apply the paste to their bites in the same fashion. This one may be a bit messy, but a bit of mud can also cool and relieve those pesky bites.
Tips to avoid bug bites: Always be sure to pack bug spray, whether it’s store bought or homemade. If you want to be extra safe, have the kids wear long sleeves and pants. Citronella candles have also grown in popularity recently. Citronella is an essential oil that naturally repels bugs. When you light a citronella candle, the immediate area you’re in becomes protected from pests!
Your kids become dehydrated
The first sign of dehydration is a headache. If not extreme, most cases of dehydration can be remedied with water intake and rest. If your kids are feeling dehydrated, help them avoid exertion for several hours and replenish their fluids with water or a sports drink. Have them rest or lie down in a cool, shady spot while they recover.
Tips to avoid dehydration: With dehydration, prevention is everything. Before engaging in any physical activities, be sure to have your kids drink water over the course of several hours. Having water in their system before they begin hiking is key. If you’re out of fluids to drink, eating fruits or veggies with high water contents can also be helpful. Some examples include watermelon, strawberries, cucumber, and celery.