Healthy Outdoor Living

Summer Camping Hazards that Could Kill You and How to Deal with Them

More from Outdoor Living Newsletter May Outdoor Living Newsletter
Sunset over a lake with a pitched green tent by a campfire
Summer camping in the wild

Summertime is here once again. For many of us, this means spending some time in rented cabins, pitched tents or parked RVs and camping in the wild. Camping in the wild allows us to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and allows us to enjoy the beauty of nature at this time of the year.

But for all the fun that it promises to bring, summer camping in the wild is not without dangers. Oftentimes, these dangers lurk beyond our notice and strike when we least expect, so it is important to be aware of them. We also need to know how to avoid these hazards and how to deal with them if we encounter them.

We have here the five most common summer camping hazards and tips on what to do if they happen to you or your companions while camping in the wild this summer.

Snake Bites

According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, around 7,000 people get bitten by venomous snakes in the United States every year. Thankfully, only 1 in 500 people die of poisonous snake bites and approximately half of the snake bite cases reported are only dry bites, meaning no venom was injected into the skin.

The best way to prevent getting bitten by snakes is to learn how to avoid snakes entirely. Become familiar with the type of snakes common to the campgrounds or areas you will be hiking in during your summer camping trip. In addition, you should be aware of where these snakes hide and be careful not to disturb these hiding places.

You also need to be prepared in case you or one of your companions gets bitten by a snake. Pack a snake bite kit and use it as first aid. Keep the victim calm and take them to the hospital right away.

Learn more about snake bites and how to prevent them.

Bee Stings

In general, bee stings only feel unpleasant or even mildly painful. They only become dangerous if the person who got stung experiences severe allergies or anaphylaxis from the encounter. According to the Mayo Clinic, approximately 3% of people who have been stung by bees develop anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis can be fatal, especially in adults.

To avoid being stung by bees, you should stay away from beehives. If you see a beehive, it is best to leave the hive alone. Wearing long pants and long-sleeved shirts also helps if you are hiking at a place where beehives are present.

In case you or someone with you gets stung, remove the stinger from the affected area immediately. Afterwards, apply a cold compress and then top the skin with Benadryl. And then, watch out for symptoms of anaphylaxis such as dizziness or fainting, hives, swelling of the tongue or throat, rapid pulse, nausea or diarrhea. If this happens, take the victim to the hospital immediately.

Learn more about bee stings and how to deal with them.

Heat Exhaustion

The CDC stated that 8,015 people in the United States died from excessive heat exposure from 1979 to 2003. reported recently that 7,452 people were treated in ERs for exercise-related heat exhaustion in 2006.

One of the most effective ways of preventing heat exhaustion is to keep yourself hydrated with water. Avoid drinking alcoholic beverages as much as possible. You should also wear lightweight and light-colored clothes while camping, especially when you're going on a hike. Bring drinking water with you whenever you move away from your campsite.

You also need to watch out for symptoms of heat exhaustion, such as tiredness, weakness, dizziness, nausea, paleness, headaches and heavy sweating. If you or one of your companions starts showing these symptoms do whatever you can to cool them down. Make them stop whatever they're doing and take them somewhere shady. Cool them as rapidly as you can by wrapping them in a cool wet sheet or by immersing them in cool water. Afterwards, take them to the ER immediately.

Learn more about heat exhaustion and what to do about it.

Wildfire Hazards

The National Interagency Fire Center stated that at the end of the year 2012, there were 67,774 cases of wildfires reported ravaging a total of 9.3 million acres of forests in the US. As of May 2013, there were already 14,335 cases of wildfires affecting 174,000 acres of forest land. Unattended campfires were identified as one of the causes of these forest fires.

You can do your part in preventing forest fires while camping this summer by finding out if the campground you are staying at allows campfires. If campfires are permissible at the campground, you should dig a fire pit. When to dig a fire pit is also crucial; for example, it is not advisable to start a campfire on windy days because wind can carry away fire-causing debris. In addition, you should never leave your campfire unattended and put out your campfire before going to bed. For more tips read our How to safely build a campfire article.

You can also prevent forest fires from happening by not smoking in the forest. If you have to smoke, put out your cigarette butts properly. If you're camping with children, never let the kids play with fire.

Learn more about wildfires and what you can do to prevent them.


Swimming and boating inevitably become part of the itinerary if you are camping near bodies of water. If that is the case, you need to be careful when you swim or sail, especially if you have children with you. The latest CDC factsheet reported that 3,443 people died from unintentional drowning in 2007.

Following a few precautions should keep you and your family safe. Wear a life vest when you go boating, and never go boating or swimming alone. Allow your kids to swim only under the supervision of an adult who is a strong swimmer. Also, avoid swimming after drinking alcohol.

Learn more about swimming and boating safely.

Summer camping in the wild can be very fun. It is relaxing, and it allows you to forget the stress of city life, if only for a day or two. You can always keep your memories of camping in the summer beautiful and prevent it from ending on a bad note if you learn more about summer camping hazards how to avoid them and what you should do in case you encounter them.

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