Camping safety tips for 2021: restrictions, risks, tick prevention

Camping safety tips for 2021: what to know

Camping

Camping has seen a huge surge in popularity this year, as it gives families the opportunity to go on holiday can go on holiday while also respecting restrictions. With the trend expected to continue through to 2021, we've put together a guide of what to consider in terms of safety if you intend to go camping.

COVID-19 and camping

Campsites in the UK have been open since July 4th, and this autumn and winter the national tourism agency is encouraging more people to take domestic holidays. Staying in campsites and caravans has surged this summer as a method of travel which allows for relatively low social contact. With constantly changing quarantine rules for foreign holidays, it can be a safer bet to book a staycation without having to worry about isolating on your return.

The current regulations mean that you are allowed to go camping, so long as there are no local restrictions in the area where you live, or the area you intend to travel to. If you live in an area with “very high” tier restrictions, you should avoid all non-essential travel.

Always check the official guidance on local COVID alert levels, as well as the current restrictions in your local area.

If you intend on travelling outside of the UK, be sure to check the restrictions in force at your destination. Be aware that you may also have to quarantine on your return.

COVID-19 camping travel advice

Camping can be a good choice at this time as it allows you to travel and be outdoors while still minimising contact with people outside of your household.

  • always check local restrictions before you travel

  • do not travel if you feel unwell

  • book ahead - some campsites might be closed or booked up, particularly during school holidays

  • check what facilities are open at the site you intend to visit, as some are only currently accepting fully-equipped caravans

  • plan and stock up on what you need to avoid making unnecessary stops

  • make sure you have at least 2 meters of space between your tent and others

Camping safety tips

In this article we'll cover:

  • potential health risks

  • what to take

  • cooking and fire safety

  • wildlife and animals

Choose the right spot

It’s always safer to camp in a campsite, where you can be sure that the area you are camped on is safe and not at risk from flooding or other issues. Moreover, in many countries wild camping (camping in an area that isn’t a campsite) is illegal. It’s important to check your destination before you go.

It can also be a good idea to camp at a good distance from areas of long grass, which could contain ticks and other insects, particularly in areas where diseases such as tick-borne encephalitis and Lyme disease are more prevalent.

Another good idea is to arrive at your camping spot while it is still daytime, so you can set up your tent while you still have enough light.

Make sure you’re prepared for the weather

It’s always essential to make sure you have the right equipment for the area you’re camping in, for the right time of year and the right weather. Be sure to check the weather before you leave and pack accordingly.

With a big increase in staycations this year, many people may be planning camping winter trips. Although it will probably be quite cold, you should be fine so long as you take the right equipment. Make sure you have the right sleeping bag for low temperatures, and perhaps also consider a sleeping bag liner. A good camping mat or cot is also important as it will not only give you more comfort, but will also insulate you from the cold that comes from the ground.

If you’re travelling during summer be prepared for high temperatures and be sure to pack sunscreen, and be aware that you will need to drink more water than usual.

It’s important to ensure that you have the right kind of sunscreen. Look at the label to check that:

  • it has a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30

  • it has at least a 4-star UVA protection

Most sunscreen has a shelf life of 2 to 3 years, so make sure yours isn’t past its expiry date.

Take a first aid kit

It is essential that you take a first aid kit when you go camping, and include useful items such as plasters, basic dressings, scissors and tweezers

Some useful items to include in your camping first aid kit could be:

  • plasters

  • dressings

  • scissors

  • alcohol- or iodine-based disinfectant

It’s also a good idea to take a set of tweezers specifically for removing ticks (tweezers with thin tips), especially if you intend to take part in any outdoor activities such as hiking or biking.

If you are camping in a risk area for ticks, tweezers with thin ends are best for removing them

Be sure to check whether the area you’re camping in is a risk area for tick-borne encephalitis or Lyme disease before you go.

The best way to avoid ticks when camping is to stay away from areas of long grass and shrubs, and wear loose clothing that covers your legs and ankles. You can tuck your trousers into your socks so that skin is not exposed.

Be careful when cooking and using stoves

Using camping stoves in enclosed spaces for cooking or warmth can result in a buildup of carbon monoxide, which can be harmful or lethal in the worst cases. Be sure to always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using camping stoves.

Camping stoves should never be used as a source of warmth, and it is important to make sure you always follow the manufacturers instructions for use

In many areas, outdoor fires are prohibited due to risks of forest fires. Always check before starting a fire. If you are allowed to build outdoor fires, ensure that they are away from trees, shrubs and tents. It is a good idea to have a quick method of putting a fire out, such as a bucket of earth or sand, or a fire blanket. After you have finished using it, make sure that the fire is completely extinguished.

Watch out for wildlife and stray animals

For most people camping in Europe, the risk from wildlife and stray animals is low. In other regions of the world, be sure to check whether there is a risk from rabies, particularly if you are camping in a rural area with a lot of stray animals.

The best method of prevention against rabies is the rabies vaccine. If you’re unsure as to whether your travel plans put you at risk of contracting rabies, by speak to one of our Practio prescribers in a free telephone consultation.

In general it is best to keep a safe distance from wildlife, even if they don’t seem harmful. It is recommended that you do not touch stray animals (such as dogs or cats) and wash your hands thoroughly afterwards if you do.

If you have a dog, make sure you keep them on a lead where appropriate.

Tetanus

Tetanus is a rare but serious bacterial infection found around the world. The tetanus bacteria can survive for long periods outside of the body, and is usually found in the soil and manure of animals, particularly horses and cows.  Tetanus is contracted in humans when the bacteria enters a wound by either soil or dirt. 

Tetanus is part of the primary course of vaccinations in the UK, as is given as part of the diphtheria, polio and tetanus vaccine.

The best method of prevention against tetanus is vaccination. Protection from the tetanus vaccine usually lasts for 10 years. If you are taking part in an outdoor activity in a rural area, you may want to get a diphtheria, polio and tetanus booster.

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