The darkness of the night as the stars gaze down on you, the cool breeze of nature’s love, the sweet rhythm of insects sounds surrounding you, the perfect silence away from the city is to die for. Camping is to adventure what oxygen is to life. You cannot claim to love adventure if you have not camped before.
It’s in our innate nature as animals to be drawn to the wild. We love it. We live for it. And even though modern civilisation has made it hard to live off of nature, camping makes this dream come closer. And for beginners, it may feel like an uphill task, but it’s simple. With a little planning, a little research, and some camping gear, you’re good to go. But there are some potential dangers, that you need to be aware of. To help you have an awesome and safe experience camping whether it’s your first time or your nth time. This one’s for you.
Why go camping?
Imagine a world without the glaring fluorescent lights, the noisy machines, the fumes from vehicles, the concrete jungles. Camping will give you all of that. On top of the peaceful silence bestowed on you, here are more benefits of camping:
- Reduced stress. You can focus only on what you need to. Everything else back at home ceases to exist. You get into the moment. You feel alive. Plus the great outdoors help in calming your mind.
- You unplug. Camping time is not the time to check social media. In fact, use the phone only for navigation. It’s time to relax and refresh. No one’s bothering you, no more calls, just you and nature.
- Learning new skills. The only thing that makes life enjoyable is learning. You stop learning and life loses its meaning. Camping will teach you invaluable skills, some that can be used in real life.
- Increased confidence. Very few people can stay out all night in the middle of nowhere and be comfortable. Camping teaches you that danger is real, always lurking somewhere, but that shouldn’t matter because you know you can tackle it. It teaches you to live on the edge.
- Health benefits. Apart from the fresh air and the relaxing atmosphere, camping improves your brain’s functions. You become more alive, your brain releases more dopamine, you get some vitamin D, you engage your muscles in physical exercises. The benefits are limitless.
- Did I mention it’s free? You’re not reserving a hotel room. You don’t have to check out time. (Unless it’s on a campsite. Remember Wild Camping is against the law in most of England and Wales.) But campsite fees can be as little as £5 per night.
Still not convinced, check out why camping is good for health.
Why is camping dangerous?
As with everything adventurous, camping is not always a bed of roses, especially wild camping. It’s dangerous and it involves risk-taking for the better part. You’re going into the wild. Here, it’s survival for the fittest quite literally. Perfect time to prove Charles Darwin’s theory. Anything can happen, so you must be prepared for all these dangerous situations. If you’re wondering what are the dangers of camping, here they are.
Scouts have a great motto: Be Prepared. If you plan for the worse, then you are prepared and hope for the best.
If you haven’t camped before, we recommend getting a recommendation from your doctor first. Complications involving cardiovascular diseases have been proven to be fatal during camping. This is especially so if your body is not used to strenuous physical activity. Other health problems may arise from being in an unfamiliar environment and geographical locations, insect-transmitted diseases like Lyme disease, malaria, dengue fever and much more.
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection which is spread to humans by infected ticks. Not all ticks are infected with the disease. It’s only if the tick has already bitten an infected animal. Infected Ticks are found all over the UK, but higher-risk areas include grassy and wooded areas in Southern Enaldn and the Scottish Highlands. So hiking and camping definitely fall into this category.
To remove a tick safely:
- Use fine-tipped tweezers or a tick-removal tool. You can buy these from some pharmacies, vets and pet shops.
- Grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible.
- Slowly pull upwards, taking care not to squeeze or crush the tick. Dispose of it when you have removed it.
- Clean the bite with antiseptic or soap and water.
For more information on Lyme Disease, please see the NHS website.
You’re used to sleeping under a warm duvet every night within four walls. Camping won’t give you that. At night, especially during winter, temperatures can be sub-zero. And since you won’t have your heating ventilation, it’s likely that you can develop hypothermia, which is a medical emergency that occurs when your body loses heat faster than it can produce heat. And it can be fatal.
We have a full article dedicated to why you should not cook in your tent. But cooking in a confined space can lead to the danger build of carbon monoxide and can be fatal, especially for younger people with smaller lungs. One of the biggest issues with Carbo Monoxide is more commonly known as the silent killer. Carbon monoxide is a colourless, odourless, and tasteless flammable gas that is slightly less dense than air. Hence why you in homes you should have a specific detector for it. We would never recommend cooking in a tent.
With insufficient water and in the middle of nowhere, you risk being dehydrated. So you should learn how to ration your water to fit all the days you’ll be in the wild. However, shit happens, and your water can spill.
In the pursuit of the perfect place to pitch your tent, you may do a lot of jumping and hiking. In the process, you could get sprinkled ankles or even break bones. This is especially so when you move about in the night without enough light. This is unlikely on the majority of campsites across the UK as they have a lot of guidelines they must meet to open. But if your campsite has a playpark for the kids, accidents can sometimes happen.
Depending on the location, you can be attacked by wild animals in the night especially in national parks. This includes snakes, bees, and all forms of insects. They will be attracted to your food or your lights or you, really. To some of them, you’re the delicacy they’ve always dreamed of having and you’re closer than you will ever be to them. Luckily in the UK we don’t really have any dangerous wild animals, but its always better to plan ahead and avoid any unwanted surprises.
There are no lifeguards in the wild. If you go out to swim in lakes and ponds, you risk drowning, especially if the water body is infested with hyacynths and underwater plants. They will trap your legs and leave you gasping for air. It can be fun, and I’ve done it, but you just got to make sure you are safe.
If you do plan on going wild swimming, then check out our water safety tip guide.
Going into unfamiliar land leaves a lot of room for falls. You can’t always tell what’s in the next 10 meters. You will fall in holes, from cliffs, and stumble on rocks. Going back home in one piece is not guaranteed. So when hiking makes sure you take extra steps to make sure you are safe.
Storms and unfavourable weather conditions
So the weatherman said it was all going to be sunny and calm and you believed them, until you reach your campsite and a downpour wakes you up in the middle of the night. You’re sleeping on a stream, everything is a blur, and soon, your tent is moving with the streams.
Landslides can happen too and they can be fatal. You’ve seen numerous breaking news of people trapped under the mud when slides occur. Setting up your tent in a flat area can help mitigate this but that doesn’t guarantee complete safety.
Lightning can occur and chop down a tree right next to your tent. Let’s not imagine what would happen if that tree feel on you. So it’s advisable to pitch your tent in an open place. But that also has some disadvantages. Everything with camping is a calculated risk.
What can go wrong while on your camping trip?
Apart from the dangers listed above, a lot of things can go wrong during camping. So it’s advisable to ensure you have everything set and are prepared for the worst of it all on your next camping trip.
This is obvious if you’re going into a remote place deep in the wilderness. That’s why a phone is handy to help you retrace your steps. If you or someone in your team gets lost, you can call Search and Rescue teams to help you.
It’s not uncommon for a campfire to go wild. So be careful with your fires and always ensure you’ve completely put it off after using it. In fact, we highly recommend leaving no trace camping and having a fire is against this. Don’t say you’ll need it later. Because that’s how wildfires begin. Someone forgot they had started a fire. If you can’t contain it, call emergency rescue team or firefighters immediately. This is especially so if you’re not near a body of water. This is especially true in dry summer conditions.
Rowdy campsite neighbours
Your campground neighbours can be a thorn in the flesh sometimes especially at campsites. They may destroy your whole camping experience. So ensure you know who will be in the camping ground with you and if there’s any potential for disagreements, sort them out before camping.
In the wild, there’s no police nearby. So it’s easy for someone to encroach your tent and steal from you. Psychopaths can be lurking in the dark waiting for the opportune time to attack, but these are extremely rare. In fact, I have never had any issue in 30 years of camping.
Forgetting important camp equipment
There’s nothing more disappointing on camping day than to realize you left something crucial. It’s even more disappointing when there’s no nearby shopping centre to get the equipment. Worse still if the piece of equipment is completely necessary for a smooth camping experience. It will derail your morale and make you regret going camping completely. That’s why doing a test run before the actual camping day is important.
There are fourteen national parks in the UK and one more with equivalent status. Meaning there are some great places to camp and go hiking. However wild camping in England and Wales is against the law. They can offer some great camping spots,
Importance of doing a test run
Test runs are important especially to first-timers who don’t have the camping experience. They’ll prevent you from forgetting important items, planning your camping experience, and getting ready.
Learn how to set up a tent
This is the number one skill everyone camper should have. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself sleeping in the open air freezing to death. These days tents while more complex in design and style, they are simpler to put up and have handy tips to make sure you can’t do it wrong.
Counter check all essential items
A test run helps you identify everything you will need for a smooth experience and avoid the envious situation of having to go back simply because you forgot to bring a piece of essential equipment.
Check if you have enough food and water
Enough food will make the whole camping experience awesome. A test run helps you account for how much food you will need, accounting for accidents that could lead to spillage and whatnot.
Determine if camping is for you
The whole idea of camping may sound awesome to you until you’re in the tent in the middle of nowhere and you begin getting panic attacks. If it’s your first trip, find a campsite close to your home, that way if it’s not for you, then you can quickly
Mitigate risky situations
With all the dangers of camping, a test run will help you simulate a dangerous situation and what you would do about it. This way, you don’t get caught by surprise while camping.
With that said, your first time camping is not going to be a walk in the park. You will experience challenges and at some point, you may regret it. But it’s the exotic experiences that it gives that makes it worthwhile. So while camping is dangerous, it gives you a tone of benefits. So this season, prepare for the ultimate getaway with your family and go have some fun. It will be worth it, trust me.
Hi, I am Amy I have two loves in my life camping and writing. When I am not writing for The Expert Camper, I am usually camping. Lake District is one of my favourite spots, but really anywhere in the UK under canvas I am happy.