How to Avoid Camping Injuries

Common Injuries

Sep 7, 2023


Camping can be one of the most enjoyable activities to enjoy in the fall… except for the camping injuries, of course. Getting outdoors and feeling at one with nature is a great way to spend your time, but it can also lead to injuries or accidents if you’re not keeping a close eye on your surroundings. However, there’s no need to worry — as always, if you’re careful and put safety first, even the most common camping injuries can be easily avoided. 

If you or your loved ones find yourself in a camping accident or someone in your party has sustained minor or severe injuries, Complete Care’s 24/7 emergency rooms are open and ready to help. 

Follow these tips for how to avoid camping injuries for a safe and enjoyable trip.

The dangers of camping: What to be aware of

No matter what the activity is, spending time outdoors always brings along its own set of risks. After all, nature can be unpredictable. Here are a few examples of dangers you may encounter while camping:

  • Wildlife 
  • Fire hazards
  • Potentially poisonous plants
  • Hiking injuries such as slips and falls or sprained ankles
  • Dehydration 
  • Insect bites 
  • Food poisoning from eating contaminated food or drinking contaminated water
  • Severe weather

Ultimately, anything can happen on a camping trip, but as long as you know what to look out for and what to do in different dangerous scenarios, it should be simple to avoid a camping accident or camping injuries.

What is the most common injury in camping?


Burns and lacerations are two of the most common camping injuries people can sustain on their outdoor adventures. Singing songs and making s’mores around the campfire can quickly result in a burn injury if you don’t practice proper fire safety procedures (but more on that later). 


Cuts, scrapes, and lacerations are common hiking injuries that campers can face. Whether you cut your hand on a sharp rock or get scraped by a tree branch, it’s important to have a first-aid kit handy to be able to properly clean and dress the wound to prevent infection. 

How can camping injuries be prevented?

Now that we’ve established both the dangers of camping and common camping injuries, here are some tips for avoiding a camping accident or injury as you enjoy the great outdoors.

Tip #1: Wear protective clothing and footwear

The best way to protect your body against the elements is to wear protective clothing, eyewear, and footwear while on the campsite. This includes UV protection in both your clothing and your eyewear as well as applying sunscreen every few hours. Long sleeves and pants will help shield your skin from any cuts or scrapes and keep your skin protected from the sun’s rays. Remember, just because it’s beginning to cool down weather-wise does not mean the sun isn’t shining as brightly. 

Wearing open-toed or unsupportive, flimsy footwear like flip-flops is a one-way ticket to a foot injury. Campgrounds are notoriously uneven terrain, especially if you decide to add a hike to the itinerary. Cuts, sprains, and other injuries to the feet can only be prevented by wearing supportive, closed-toed, protective footwear such as hiking boots or durable sneakers. 

Should you go to the ER for a sprained ankle? If there is pain and swelling and you’re experiencing limited motion due to the ankle sprain, it’s best to head to the ER and have a professional examine it. You may need to wear a brace to properly support the bone as it heals. 

Tip #2: Respect the wildlife

Bears, snakes, insects…oh my! When you’re in nature, you’re bound to encounter some form of wildlife ranging from a fire ant to a grizzly bear. If your campsite is known to be home to some critters and creepy crawlers, be sure to follow the site’s rules and instructions on how to handle a situation regarding wildlife. Remember, this is their territory and you are a guest. Keep your distance and be respectful.

The good news is that a bug or other insect bite is the most common encounter you will have with a camping ground’s wildlife. Be sure to pack bug repellent, cleansing wipes, bandages, and antibiotic ointment for spider bites like Neosporin to help ease the pain of a bug bite in your first-aid kit. If you happen to get bitten by something a little more sinister, such as a snake or poisonous spider, go to the ER as soon as possible and seek medical help. 

Tip #3: Practice proper fire safety

Camping wouldn’t be complete without a campfire, but things can escalate to an unsafe point if you and your party are not practicing proper fire safety. In fact, being burnt by a campfire or any other type of fire is the most common camping accident people face. Be sure to research how to start and maintain a fire correctly so that you and others are not put in a dangerous situation. Have a fire extinguisher nearby and never leave the fire unattended. It is also a wise idea to pack burn ointment in your first-aid kit, but if you sustain a burn that looks serious, find an emergency room near you. 

Another injury you can sustain from a fire on a campsite is inhaling too much smoke. If you begin to exhibit campfire smoke inhalation symptoms such as shortness of breath, scratchy throat, or changes in your skin tone to a red or a bluish hue, head to the nearest emergency room for treatment. 

Tip #4: Know how to identify potentially poisonous plants

Poison ivy, poison oak, or poison sumac are common (and very dangerous) plants that you may encounter while camping. There are also types of poisonous berries that can be toxic if ingested. Never interact with a plant unless you can properly identify it and know that it is safe. When in doubt, it’s best to leave plant life alone as you would with animals in the wild. 

If you happen to come into contact with a plant and have an allergic reaction, have someone bring you to the ER. What will the ER do for an allergic reaction? Depending on the severity of the reaction, some patients may require additional adrenaline doses or other types of treatment to help restore oxygen or open breathing airways. A member of our medical staff will likely monitor you for a few hours to ensure that the reaction has ceased. 

Tip #5: Stay hydrated

As with any outdoor activity, hydrating properly throughout the day is the best way to avoid dehydration. Dehydration can be incredibly dangerous, especially if you are spending a lot of your time outdoors and potentially under the sun (again, even if the temperatures drop, never underestimate the sun’s rays). Water is essential to keep your body functioning, particularly if you are going to be exerting a lot of energy.

We recommend packing both reusable water bottles and bottled water to ensure that everyone on the campsite can get an adequate amount of water each day. This is especially important if there is not a direct water source nearby to obtain fresh drinking water.  

Wondering when to go to the ER for dehydration? If you or someone on your campsite has a fever of 103°F or higher, is vomiting, has difficulty sweating or urinating, has dry, red, hot skin, or has lost consciousness, go to the emergency room as soon as possible. 

Complete Care can treat your camping injuries 

Whether you’ve experienced a camping accident or have sustained camping or hiking injuries, knowing where to turn for help is crucial. Although some campsites may be equipped with a medical area, they may not have every resource or technology available to help you in an emergency. 

Before you leave for your camping trip, identify where the nearest emergency room facility is and keep the address handy either on your phone or on a map. You never know when tragedy will strike and you will need the assistance of a medical professional promptly.  

Complete Care has multiple 24/7 ER locations in Texas (Austin, Corpus Christi, Dallas/Fort Worth, East Texas, Lubbock, and San Antonio) and in Colorado Springs. Whether you need a member of our staff to treat a burn or examine a sprained ankle, we can get you in, out, and back to camping faster with lower wait times than a hospital-based ER. 

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