'Real' Camping Hazards.

Most camping hazards are pretty obvious. Things like poison ivy, lightning, exposure to the elements and such we tend to know about already. Let me tell you about a few that are quite probably way more likely . These are mostly things that have happened to me personally or someone I know although there are a couple or recent news stories too. Thus they are more than just theoretical possibilities this stuff really happens.

BUNGIE CORDS - I know two different people that had to make trips to the emergency room for stitches after getting hit in the face with a bungy cord where th other end that slipped off. They are very useful devices but obviously DO NOT PULL THE CORD TOWARD YOUR FACE.

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DEAD CAR BATTERY - This year I gave three separate cars jumps at just the Pickin' in the Pine Music festival. THREE! Yikes! That's mainly because people are using their battery plug ins to charge phones, run appliances, use lights and the like, not to mention leaving doors open. Raymond here, came back after a weekend back pack with his boy scout troop to fin his battery dead. He had a fellow camper whose car was still working but no Jumper cables.

And then there is the ever subtle 'dome light' problem. You just don't realize how a dinky dome light can drain your battery. I have to tell you this story. It was at a bluegrass festival in Pine Top AZ. My buddy Brad, me, his wife and my girl friend were all camping there oddly in four separate vehicles. ( We all arrived from different places at different times.) The key here is that Brad and me were there and setup by Friday afternoon. The girls arrived in the evening and we spent the weekend listening to great music, playing some, maybe not so great, music and just generally having fun as we always do. Sunday rolls around and the girls decide to leave early in their respective vehicles while Brad and me head over to catch the finally act on the stage. We came back, broke camp and were ready to leave when Brad tried to start his truck only to realize, it had a dead battery. I said, "no problem I'll give you a jump". So I hopped in my Blazer turned the key and "click", dead battery. Mind you we are very experience campers. Now fortunately not everybody had left as the banjo picker from the last band was still there and kindly gave us both a jump. We figure out that both of us had left a door slightly open THE WHOLE WEEKEND.

If a dead battery should happen to you way out in the boonies when you are by yourself at the very least you're in for a long walk.

Camping tip #1 - is pay attention to every possible battery drain ( even dome & glove box lights ) and don't let the guy that has the jumpers leave until everybody has actually started their car.
Camping tips #2 - If you need help with your vehicle, jump or otherwise, look for the oldest pickup truck around. It may very well have the oldest driver too but I'll bet he/she has had a few similar problems before and might very well be able to help you.
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Also, tools, jumper cables, tow straps and the like are all great things for us outdoor types to keep in our vehicles. Out here in the west, on some trips,it might even make sense to carry some extra gas as gas stations can be few and far between. When we did out eclipse trip we were not sure what the gas situation would be like as predictions for the number of possible viewers grew to Y2K proportions. So we decided we might as well take along some extra gas just in case there were shortages. This is also something we tend to do when four wheeling back in the bunnies as gas mileage goes out the window on those treacherous roads.

KEYS LOCKED IN THE CAR - over the years this has happen to me several times. Then I wised up and put an extra key in a place only me and my camping buddies know about. Those magnetic boxes are good for such things. This would obviously help if you lost your keys too.

Camping tips #3 - Have the basic tools and have an extra key accessible from the outside of your vehicle.

CELL PHONES - We were headed out for a day trip one bright and early morning and noticed a guy walking toward town. ( At the time I lived in a small community seven miles outside of Camp Verde AZ. ) He looked pretty desperate so we asked him if he needed help. He said, "can I borrow your phone I had troubles back at camp" (10 plus miles away he had been walking all night). Thus he needed to call someone for help. I handed him my phone, at which time, we both came to a startling realization: we don't know the numbers of the people we call anymore! He perched his finger over the keypad then looked up at me with this dumbfounded look. It occurred to me I would have had exactly the same problem as these days the phone remembers the number for us.

Camping tips #4: Write down the numbers of friends and relatives you might need and carry them in your wallet just in case you lose or can't use your own phone and need to borrow one.

Before I tell you this next story, let me say that in general while I think our high tech phones and devices can be of great use, they can also cause problems untold. The first problem with them is they addict their users which in turns causes some people to completely bury their personality into either them or the social networks they access or both. I know more than one person who has basically no personality without their phone. At least I think that is the case because I have never really seen them without their face buried inside one.

Camping tips #5: Consider making some camping rules that limit, if not completely restrict phone use.

If you are not there to spend time with each other, you missing the whole point of camping!

Here is the other problem technology presents. On our eclipse trip we stopped at this little bar, grill and store while heading from Casper to the Devils Tower. A place called Bill's. ( Seems somebody needed to use the bathroom as I remember ;-) At any rate, we got in line at the checkout counter, where this young man was standing with I-phone in hand expressing to the checker how this place must have gas because "Google says so". She informed him the nearest gas was fifty miles away. Fortunately, for him and his family our ' just in case ' compulsion to have extra gas provided him with what he needed to make it to the next town.

And just recently I heard a news story where an older couple took a wrong turn down a rough dirt road that not only went the wrong way but also got them stuck and put them out of cell coverage! All because of these crazy phone apps.

Camping tips #6: Use technology as a reference not an authority. It can be wrong and the consequences can be disastrous.

Another thing to remember is when out in the boonies your phone will likely 'roam' a lot which drastically reduces the battery life thus you may need to charge often and/or end up without service very quickly. My phone is usually off when I'm out camping for this reason.

ANIMAL ENCOUNTERS- Most wild animals want nothing to do with people thus they are less of a threat than most folks think. However these Three things can be a problem:

1- Don't get between a momma and her baby. Mommas are potentially the meanest animals in the forest so resist your urge to get close to cute little critters like bear cubs.

2- Rabid animals - loss there fear and become very aggressive. When you see nocturnal animals ( like skunks ) in the day time it is very likely they are infested. I have a niece that was bitten by a rabid fox. This plague was a big problem in AZ years ago. Not so much now.

3- Feral dogs - The same nieces husband was treed by feral dogs. ( It was a Pack of fifty or so. Most of these dogs were domestic dogs that the bone headed owners just let run wild. ) When you see a big pack of dogs, you need to be extra careful as unfortunately dogs are like people, when you get in a group they try to impress each other. They are also not afraid of people.

Camping tips #7: Assume animals are not you friend as in the Disney movies.

TENT PLACEMENT- When placing your tent avoid these three things:

Dead snags - these are often caused by lightning strickes. Don't believe lightning doesn't strike twice in the same place. It's actually more likely to strike in the same place.

Trees with dead limbs that could come crashing down should the wind kick up. Note the bad placement in the image. The tree won't fall but the limbs could and they are very heavy.

Water drainage - for the immediate area around your tent.

Insects and varmints- ant plies, bee hives and other potential critter havens or nests such as holes in the ground.

Camping tips #8: Find level ground away from hazards for your tent.

FLASH FLOODS - Much more common than you might think and the consequences of problems are Huge. Read my kid story about my personal flash flood experience.

I also had some friends ( family of four ) that got caught in a flash flood over by Havasu where they lived back in the 70's. Joe, Nina and one of their boys perished in the event while the other son made it out but was hurt pretty bad.

Then a number of years ago a car with a boy scout troop was trying to cross a wash and all of them ended up dieing. One could speculate that the driver was worried about getting home so he wouldn't miss work the next day?

Just last summer over by Payson one family lost 10 members. That flood was because there had been a big forest fire up stream the year before so there was no vegetation too hold the water. This is becoming a very big problem with the onslaught of all these wildfires here out west. With wild fires there will be Huge flash floods that follow for several years to come.

Camping tips #9: Check to see if there have been any wildfires in the area you intent to camp and don't be in a hurry to get home! It's a small deal if you have to spend an extra night out.

GETTING LOST - This is way to easy to do when you are in a new place but especially on cloudy days. It happened to me when I was kid and I have to tell you it's just down right scary!

FOOD POISONING - My brother and I were staying with our aunt Nina and Uncle ED that year. We were camping out of a trailer near the San Fransisco river out of Safford AZ. Ed was a core driller and needed to live near his drilling rig for work reasons. I think we ran out of ice at some point and everybody got very sick my guess is from the meat we ate that night. I was sick for three weeks and probably lost at least 10 pounds. This not an experience you want to have. Make sure you know and practice sanitary food storage and preparation procedures. See our basic tips page.

Camping tips #10: Develop and practice good habits. They can keep you out of trouble.

Remember too the code of the outside world is help another in trouble if you can. Give them a ride or let them borrow your phone etc.. I have pulled many a stuck vehicle out of the mud and been pulled out a bunch too.

Mountain Man mentality - I camp a lot by myself and have come to believe you are a little more cautious when alone. ( Actually a lot more. ) My guess is that mountain men did not take the same kind of chances that others might. This is because they knew there would be no help if something bad were to happen. When completely on your own you will just do things differently.

Don't let any of this this scare you though, all these things are perfectly within your control. Pay attention and

Go Camping!

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