Prepare for the Worst: Emergencies While Camping

Group of people setting on ground while cooking egg

How do you figure out what to take camping when your goal is to defeat Murphy’s Law?

Very basically stated, Murphy’s Law is the principle that:

“Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”

The only effective way to defend against the inevitability of disaster is to plan ahead for every possible scenario.

Is that even possible?

Probably not, but we can try.

First things first though.

Make sure you have the basics covered.

camping bear

Image via Memegenerator

Here’s why:

Emergencies Happen When You Least Expect Them

You can’t plan your emergencies around the rest of your trip. Life doesn’t work like that.

But you can be prepared to react to an emergency when it arises.

So, how do you figure out what to take camping to manage that?

Good question.

Start here:


  • Adequate camping gear (tent, canopies, sleeping bags, etc.)
  • Tools to make camping easier (hatchet, sharp hunting knife, hammer, etc.)
  • Safety items (pool noodles to mark your guy lines and stakes, flotation devices, etc.)
  • First aid kit (this should be well-stocked for a variety of calamities)
  • Food and proper food storage (things like ice that keep your food from rotting)


  • Have fire safety rules set up for your children
  • Have “no play zones” around the campsite where safety hazards exist
  • Keep and eye on your kids, especially if they are on play equipment and in water
  • Wear shoes and make sure your children keep theirs on too
  • Wear sunscreen and bug repellent


  • Calm adults help children stay calm
  • Patch up the little boo-boos with a band-aid and a kiss
  • Treat more serious injuries as calmly as possible
  • Get help when you need it

Above all, DON’T PANIC!

Emergencies are GOING to happen.

How you handle them will determine how extreme they are.

What to Take Camping for General Preparedness

Camping requires certain tools and equipment as a general rule.

Begin with these:

what to take camping infograph

While your list of what to take camping may differ as you add and remove items that are useful to you, the basic list above will get you started.

But what about a satellite phone?

Aren’t cell phones just as good?

The short answer is “NO.”

But why, you ask?

Cell phones work on a network that is based on the planet.

Satellite phones operate by bouncing a signal off the various satellites we have launched into space over the last many decades.


So, while a cellular signal requires an earth-based cell tower to function, a satellite phone has no earthly limitations.

But do you REALLY need one?

It depends.

I know, I know. We haven’t answered your question.

If your cell carrier does not have a reliable service where you will be traveling, then it might benefit you to grab a satellite phone.

But it will cost you.

The base cost of a satellite phone is several hundred dollars. Then you need a service plan, which is a monthly expense.

And as if that wasn’t enough:

They charge you for every minute you use the phone!

throwing money

Image via Memegenerator

So, the question becomes — is a satellite phone really necessary for this trip?

And the answer will depend on the factors mentioned above and whether or not you can afford the expense of satellite service.

What to Take Camping for First Aid Protection

You can have too much first aid…

But if you’re in a remote location in the middle of nowhere?

You might need to be as prepared as Mrs. Benson.

Here are the basics you should have:

What to take camping for a basic first aid kit:

  • First Aid Manual
  • Pers​​​​onal prescription and OTC medications
  • Antiseptic wipes and triple antibiotic ointment
  • Bandages (rolled and Band-Aids)
  • Boo-boo kisses
  • Medical tape
  • 2×2 or 4×4 Gauze pads
  • Tweezers
  • Scissors
  • Nail clippers
  • Antacids, Pepto Bismol, and Ipecac
  • Razor blades
  • Small mirror
  • Jewelry pliers/wire snips
  • Bee sting kit
  • EpiPen (if you have a prescription for it)
  • Water purification tablets
  • Snakebite kit
  • Splinting materials, including twine
  • Emergency blanket (Mylar)
  • Specialty bandages for fingertips, toes, etc.
  • Cotton swabs
  • Ace bandages or compression wraps
  • Benadryl (Children’s chewables are fast-acting)
  • Sinus medications (Zyrtek, Claritin, or similar)
  • Hydrocortisone cream
  • Antibiotic soap
  • Butterfly stitch closures
  • Moleskin with adhesive backing
  • Thermometer
  • Eyedrops
  • Latex (or non-latex) gloves
  • Burn ointment/creme
  • Sunburn lotion/Solarcaine with Aloe
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Hand sanitizer
  • An array of OTC aspirin, Tylenol, and Ibuprofen
  • Hot/cold packs
  • Penlight/flashlight

While it may seem extensive, if you are in a remote location, you never know what you might need.

With no access to medical help, you ARE the medical help.

How to treat minor medical emergencies

Minor scrapes, cuts, and bruises are pretty routine.

Clean them up, add a band-aid and a kiss, all set.

But how do you handle a fish hook in the ear?

You got this!

fishing hook tips

Another method of hook removal:

One of the largest concerns with fish hook injuries is an infection.

Thoroughly clean the injury and check it DAILY, changing the bandage and re-applying triple antibiotic ointment each day.


What if little Johnny burns his finger on a hot marshmallow making S’Mores?

Instinct means that dirty little finger is going in his mouth. Grab wet wipes or a paper towel with water. Marshmallow goo is sticky.

Then assess the actual damage.

If there are blisters forming, treat the area gently to avoid bursting them. Then see the next section on treating a burn that blisters.

If it’s just a little red…

Apply some burn ointment or creme, cover it with a loose bandage, kiss it, and make Johnny another S’More.

Minor first aid is probably just that — minor.

So… moving along.

How to treat moderate medical emergencies

There will be some emergencies that are more serious.

The secret to handling anything is to STAY CALM!

Lacerations, or deep cuts, are fairly common while camping. But knowing what to take camping in your first aid kit makes medical emergencies less life-threatening.

The first step in the treatment of deep cuts is to control bleeding. Butterfly stitches and Steri-strips are a handy tool in your first aid kit.

The Procedure

  • Clean the wound and the immediate area around the wound
  • Using an alcohol wipe, clean the unbroken skin around the wound
  • Remove the Butterfly stitch or Steri-strip from its packaging.
  • Apply one side of the Butterfly stitch to one side of the laceration
  • Gently close the wound, while affixing the other side of the stitch to the unbroken skin

Using an orange and electrical tape to demonstrate the procedure:

This video shows the procedure for a longer laceration using Steri-strips:

Cover the wound with gauze bandages and kept clean.

Check it DAILY, but do NOT remove the strips. They will generally fall off on their own after the wound heals completely.

And we don’t stop there!

Treating blistering burns, including sunburn, requires a gentle touch.

This video demonstrates sunburn treatment:

It is important to try not to burst any blisters. The fluid they contain is your body’s response to the burn and promotes healing and protects the burned area.

This video demonstrates burn treatment:

Important takeaways:

  • Be gentle
  • Cool the area
  • Burn creme or ointment (Aloe if you have it, of course)
  • Loose bandages

Moderate injuries should be checked by a doctor or medical professional when you return to civilization.

Seek immediate medical attention if you cannot control bleeding with compresses and the procedures above.



How to stabilize serious medical emergencies

Medical emergencies that will require medical assistance do occur.

Your task, as the “first responder,” is to stabilize the injury as well as you can and get the person to a medical facility as soon as possible.

Serious medical emergencies:

  • Snakebite
  • Third-degree burns (charred skin)
  • Wild animal attacks
  • Broken bones
  • Excessive and uncontrollable bleeding
  • Concussion or other head injuries

While many emergencies can happen in a worst-case scenario, the list above are the most common things you may encounter.

This makes all the difference:

The first step in all emergencies is to REMAIN CALM.

You should also familiarize yourself with basic treatments for shock because that is always a possibility with wilderness injuries and accidents.

More on that later.

After initial treatment, ALL of the conditions below require getting your patient to a medical facility as soon as possible after stabilizing them.

Snakebite treatment

This video describes how to treat a snakebite:

Treating serious burns

This father and son demonstrate proper field treatment of serious facial burns:

Their technique is proper, but the patient wasn’t always cooperative.

Because serious burns tend to destroy nerve endings, don’t be surprised if your patient shows no signs of pain.

This is normal.

Treatment of wounds after wild animal attacks

Wild animal attacks are most commonly going to take the form of small bites and cuts, rather than bear maulings and gaping wounds.

bear facts

The nature of animal attack wounds, and what can happen as a result pose the greatest risk.

Here’s why:

Rabies, infection, and other problems can arise.

Clean any wounds and treat them in a normal manner, but have them checked as soon as possible by a medical professional.

broken bones

Treating broken bones

There are two types of broken bones:

Simple Fracture:

“a fracture that does not penetrate or protrude through the skin”

~Merriam-Webster dictionary


Compound Fracture:

“a bone fracture resulting in an open wound through which bone fragments usually protrude”

~Merriam-Webster dictionary

If you suspect a broken bone — treat it like a broken bone.

Think about it:

It is better to be safe about treatment, especially in the wilderness.

Immobilizing the break (or suspected break) is the best treatment.

General information on applying immobilization splints:

  • Visually check the area of the injury
  • Check the blood flow to the area — skin should be warm
  • Cover open wounds with clean bandages
  • Be sure to immobilize joints both above and below the injured area
  • Include ample padding to prevent additional damage
  • DO NOT attempt to reset or straighten open, protruding fractures
  • Splint the broken limb in the position it was found in
  • Apply a splint before moving a person (if they are stable)
  • Use ice and elevate the injury after it is immobilized

If you remain calm, your patient will be calmer.

This video offers several variations of field leg splints:

As with most first aid, use liberal applications of common sense.

Treating excessive/uncontrollable bleeding

Compression is the best treatment for excessive bleeding.

Applying a tourniquet should be a last resort.

If you use a tourniquet:

  • Record the time that the tourniquet was set
  • DO NOT REMOVE the tourniquet — let medical professionals do that

For puncture wounds, although unconventional, a tampon is a good way to slow blood loss enough to allow you to get the patient to a medical facility.

Sanitary napkins can also be used as compression bandages.

It’s true!

Again, direct pressure is the best course of action for bleeding. Transport the person to a medical facility as soon as possible.

Treatment for a concussion and other head injuries

A concussion can occur even with a minor blow to the head or a seemingly harmless fall.

The definition of a concussion:

“A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury—or TBI—caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or by a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth. This sudden movement can cause the brain to bounce around or twist in the skull, creating chemical changes in the brain and sometimes stretching and damaging brain cells.”

~Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

If you suspect a concussion:

Err on the side of caution.

Treat any suspected concussion as a concussion until you can seek help from a medical professional.

Treating shock

Shock is a secondary effect to many traumatic events.

Treating for shock should be a part of treating any moderate or major medical emergency in a wilderness situation.

electrocution sign

The ABCs of treating for shock include:



Check airway and clear if necessary



Make sure the person is breathing and control bleeding



Check circulation and arrange patient in a comfortable position



Apply direct pressure to any bleeding injuries

leg elevated


Elevating the legs (unless they are injured) increases circulation to the torso

In serious injury situations, it is best to treat for shock even if the person appears fine.

Simply stated:

In any medical emergency, the most important thing to remember is:


What to Take Camping to Protect Against Inclement Weather

When you are camping, there isn’t much to protect you from the ravages of severe storms and inclement weather disasters.


Knowing what to take camping can help you prepare your camp.

Most weather phenomena are predicted, so we know what to expect.

Lightning, thunder, and rain

A gentle rain shower can be relaxing. Grab your rain poncho and take a walk. Let the children splash in the puddles. Enjoy the sound of rain in the trees.

But wait…

Was that lightning?

OK, fun time is over.

It is not safe to play in the rain when there is lightning present.

Thunder fun fact

Your best course of action during a lightning storm is to seek inside shelter. If that is not available, a car is safer than a tent or pavilion.

Stay away from tall, isolated objects.

Tree in a field

Image via Pixabay


Stay away from railroad tracks, metal fencing, and shorelines that are conductive in nature and may be used by lightning as a pathway.

If you have no other options, you are safer in a grove of trees than you are under a solitary tree.

Torrential rains and flooding

Check the forecast before your trip. If they have predicted heavy rain, there are things you can do to protect your camp.

Bring extra long tent stakes. Longer stakes will be deep enough to keep a firm grip in all but the worst storms.


Image via Pixabay

Anchor your rain fly guy lines securely. Keeping tension on the rain fly of your tent will keep water from pooling in low spots. This prevents leaks, broken poles, and worse.

Set up your camp on higher ground.

A little rain never hurt anyone, and knowing what to take camping will make the rain more tolerable.


Be aware of small streams — they can become raging rivers quite quickly. Flash floods can ruin your weekend getaway. In the event of a flash flood, seek high ground immediately.

Tornadoes are dangerous

Tornadoes are one of the most devastating storm systems on the planet.

They form quickly and often give little notice.

Tornado Facts
Six Tornado Facts

Can you survive a tornado while camping?


Pay attention to weather alerts.


Safety tips for tornadoes:

  • Find a storm shelter or basement
  • Get to a sturdy shelter — crouch in a small interior room on the lowest floor of the building
  • STAY OUT OF CARS — they tend to become flying projectiles
  • Avoid highway overpasses and bridges
  • If you are out in the open — find the lowest spot you can, in a ditch or culvert

Source link —

Tornadoes are dangerous because of their unpredictability. Remain calm and remember to use common sense.

Basic Survival Tips and Tricks

We’ve covered medical mishaps. And what to take camping to keep your family safe and healthy.

We’ve covered major weather problems.

Now is a good time to cover those survival tips that will keep you alive.

If Murphy attacks you with a full-on frontal assault and leaves you stranded in the wilderness, you might need this information.

First, the Rule of 3s:

This is a simple concept.

The Rule of 3s:

  • You can survive for 3 minutes without air or in freezing water
  • Humans can survive for about 3 hours in harsh weather extremes
  • Your body can survive for 3 days without water before dehydration starts shutting down your internal organs
  • You can stay alive for about 3 weeks without food

Minutes — hours — days — weeks.

The Rule of 3s should set your survival priorities.

If you are breathing and not lollygagging in freezing water, your first task becomes finding or making a shelter.

Once you have shelter, water is your next necessity. You have three days. The last thing you need is food.

Here are some tips on selecting where to set up a shelter:

If you remember the Rule of 3s, you can survive anything old Murphy sends your way.

Fire starting basics, tips and tricks

Fire Starting 101 is now in session.

Dry wood burns better than wet wood.

But what if everything you touch is soaked?

Finding dry material in a wet forest is not impossible. Look for evergreen trees. There are often dry branches, twigs, leaves, and pine cones under their canopy.

Because of the thickness of the tree’s foliage, rain has difficulty penetrating, leaving the base of the tree relatively dry.

But wait…

You can also use wet branches.

Using your knife or hatchet, you can remove the wet, outer layer of branches to reveal drier wood inside.

Laying the shavings and bark around the perimeter of your fire pit will allow them to dry out. Then they can be used later to build your fire up.

Once your fire is established, the heat will help dry new logs as you add them.

If the rain is still falling, you will want to find a sheltered spot to have your fire.

Knowing what to take camping will help with fire starting.

Things that make quick and easy tinder:

  • Tea candles
  • Dryer lint
  • Steel wool
  • Used dryer sheets
  • Pocket-lint
  • Sock fuzz

Even a non-lighting lighter can be used to provide a spark to light the right tinder.

It’s true!

Carrying a small amount of tinder in a small zippered baggie will ensure that you will be able to light a fire even in the wettest conditions.

Building a smokeless fire (Dakota fire hole)

The Dakota fire hole is quickly becoming the go-to survival fire. Although more labor-intensive to construct, the benefits far outweigh the difficulty of construction.

Take a look:

The advantages of a Dakota fire pit:

  • Produces less smoke than a traditional fire
  • Burns fuel more efficiently, creating a hotter fire
  • Uses less wood
  • Small size makes it easy to cook over
  • Pit shape conceals visible glow from flames

So how do you make this marvelous masterpiece?

As you can see, a Dakota fire pit can be dug out in a short period. It is sometimes easier to light your tinder outside the pit, then move in into the pit once it is well lit.

On wet ground, add a layer of small twigs on the ground. This will keep your tinder dry if you are lighting it outside the hole.

Signaling with a mirror

Using a mirror to signal is a good skill to have, even if you never use it.

If you don’t have a mirror, you can use the screen on your phone, a watch crystal, the blade of a steel knife, the bottom of an aluminum can, or any other reflective surface.


The degree of reflection will be less with other objects, but anything is better than nothing when you’re stuck.

If you don’t mind killing your phone, there is a mirror inside (details in the video at the end of this article).

Finding north without a compass

If you do not have a compass, there are several methods you can use to find your way home:

Having a general knowledge of where you are camping or hiking is a good idea. Check maps before you leave for landmarks that might be visible, such as mountains, rivers, or lakes.

Knowing landmarks is as important as knowing what to take camping. They can help point you in the direction that will lead you to civilization via the shortest route.

But there’s more:

There is a method to make a compass from a needle, a puddle, and a leaf in the final video.

Edible nuts, berries, and hunting squirrel

It is difficult to describe flowers and leaves adequately, so here we will rely on videos to show you edible plants:

While we don’t expect you to remember all of the information presented, there are printed guides you can carry in your pack.

Edible plant pamphlets can be found at your local book store. They can be an invaluable, and lifesaving resource.

If you absolutely must have meat, snare traps are an easy option:

And of course, you need to know how to skin a squirrel.

WARNING — if you are the least bit squeamish — do not watch this video:

So, now if Murphy attacks your trip, you are prepared to fight back.

Good Luck Defeating Murphy on Your Wilderness Adventure!

We’ve given you a wealth of information, from general first aid tips to down and dirty wilderness survival.

By knowing what to take camping, your chance of survival is much greater.

Murphy BEWARE!

This video contains a wealth of general survival tips and tricks:

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