By Montana Grant

Posted: March 31, 2021

Camping is wonderful until it is not! Outdoor living involves fire, snakes, bears, critters, insects, bugs, injuries, and … Anticipate the risks and be prepared just in case.

As an Outdoor Educator, Hunter, Fisherman, Scout and Scoutmaster, I learned to account for almost every safety challenge. Liability is a huge concern, and it was important that every camper made it home in one, uncharred piece.

Today’s modern RV’s and gear has many conveniences but also a different set of risks. A too airtight unit can become a CO2 nightmare. Propane can explode and leave a crater where your RV once was. Bears, snakes, bees, and other critter issues can be a serious and deadly concern.

A fire can also kill you! Tents are “Fire Resistant”, not “Fireproof”. Many camp clothes are highly flammable. We have all watched the camp dufus spraying Charcoal Lighter or gasoline onto a fire. Overloading the fuel in a fire can cause a fire to burn overstory or nearby grasses and leaves. If the oven, or bacon grease in a RV ignites, the propane could explode next. Everything happens FAST!

FIRE    If kids are involved, Fire is a huge risk. Start by having your fire in a safe location. Where is the wind coming from and where will the smoke go? Is the fire in a contained pit, hole, or area. Are there leaves or tinder in proximity? Always be prepared for the fire to spread. A camp shovel, fire extinguisher, or water bucket are good ideas.

There should always be a fire monitor managing the fire.

Having a 5-gallon bucket saves the day. You can transport the lanterns or other breakable gear in them. They make good seats as well. You can also transport water for your camping needs and have it by the fire or tent ready to save the day.

Keep the firewood away from the fire. Having a long-handled shovel of stick can help you manage the fire stoking and control. If the fire spreads, the shovel can throw dirt quickly.

The shovel has a ton of other uses from digging Cat Holes, to trenching around tents, to gathering hot coal for cooking, to protection. Banging the shovel can scare off bears or other critters.

When done with the fire, PUT IT OUT! Keep matches and lighters in safe, monitored locations. Anticipate the risk of flammable liquids and Propane. A Fire Blanket can serve as a blanket or help to put fires out.

Every camper needs to know what to do. Have a Fire Drill for practice and train the whole crew. Take turns putting the fire out. How many Campers have ever used a fire extinguisher or Bear Spray container? Its worth the cost and time to teach others how to use them. It could be your life they save.

Consider First Aid training for burns, cuts, or smoke inhalation. All of these could ruin a camper’s day.

Fire can also save lives! It is also important that everyone can actually build and start a fire. Flint and Steel, Friction Fires, and other methods could save a life. Assign the camping crew different tasks when dealing with campfire needs. Swap the tasks and have an award for the Best Fire Captain! Maybe a nice Firestarter kit or bag of S’More Fixings.

Camp safe!

Montana Grant

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