It’s almost inevitable if you spend a lot of time outdoors – sooner or later you will run into extreme weather conditions. By thinking ahead and preparing for the worst, you can easily make it through any difficulties.
Camping is more popular than ever. With people budgeting their money more carefully these days, many are ditching expensive luxury accommodations for the rustic beauty of a tent and a sleeping bag. Camping is something that can be enjoyed at almost any time of year provided you are prepared for any sudden weather changes.
Even though you may be out in the wild roughing it, it’s important to carry a basic AM/FM radio with a weather band. You can even get one that is crank-powered, so you don’t have to worry if the batteries are fresh. You can’t always depend on your cell phone, especially if you are camping in a National Park or wilderness area. A weather radio can keep you informed on the current and impending weather conditions.
Lightning can be dangerous – if you hear thunder close by you know that lightning is in the area as well. Seek shelter in an enclosed structure if possible. You car is an excellent place to seek shelter from lightning. If you aren’t able to seek shelter, avoid being near high places, open fields, isolated trees, flagpoles, bleachers, or water. No place is completely safe from lightning but you can lessen your change of being injured by following these tips.
Be aware of when peak tornado season occurs in your camping location. If there is a tornado warning, check to see if your campground has a tornado shelter. Sometimes they do. If no tornado shelter is available you should retreat to a ditch or other low area. You should then cover your head to protect it from flying debris. Experts advise you not to seek shelter under an overpass as they sometimes act as “wind tunnels” during a tornado. A culvert in a low area can also serve as an emergency tornado shelter.
Flash floods are actually more deadly than tornados or lightning. Although many people consider rain to be more of an annoyance than a threat, the danger of a powerful flash flood should not be underestimated. If you are confronted with rapidly rising flood waters move to higher ground if possible. Don’t try to drive through a flooded area, even if the water doesn’t look that deep. It only takes about 18 to 24 inches of water to float a car. Some campsites, such as those in canyons and valleys, are more vulnerable to flash floods.
Extreme temperatures can also wreak havoc on a camping trip. It’s always a good idea to carry extra blankets in your car during the winter. Warm and rugged wool blankets can often be purchased inexpensively from military surplus stores. Extra food is a must-have as well. During the heat of the summer it’s very important to carry lots of extra water. Small, lightweight water filters can also be carried in one’s backpack.
High winds also require caution. When choosing a campsite, make sure that you are not camping under any dead or dying trees. Their large branches can come crashing down in a windstorm.
No matter what the situation, it’s also a good idea to have a first-aid kit handy. If your first-aid kit is several years old, check the expiration dates on the medications it contains to make sure they are not expired.
With some advance planning, the correct supplies and common sense, it’s possible to safely enjoy camping in all seasons of the year. Camping is a great, affordable activity that allows us to get closer to nature. We just have to be aware of nature’s dangers as well.