Even the most seasoned campers can still experience unfavorable situations. It could vary from losing a crucial piece of your camping gear or a sudden change of weather, to experiencing mental fatigue, sickness, disorientation, and injury.
In this guide, we will discuss some general strategies and plans for the unexpected. Whether you’re a first-time camper or just someone who wants to be prepared for the worst, you may find some of these ideas helpful when dealing with a crisis while camping.
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No one in their right mind would want a crisis to occur on their weekend getaway, but you know what they say, “Expect the best, prepare for the worst.” Doing extra planning means exerting more effort, but being prepared for the unexpected goes a long way in crisis management.
Preparing for a camping trip isn’t just making an itinerary or planning your activities. It’s also making a backup plan if something goes wrong. Ensure that everyone can navigate through the camping site or has a strategy in mind when inconveniences occur.
First Aid Kits
Never leave for a camping trip without a first aid kit. Since medical care won’t be immediately available for you, you would have to learn how to treat cuts and scrapes in the wild. The kit should contain bandages, disinfectants, and medication.
Most people forget to appoint an emergency contact when camping in the great outdoors. This person could be a friend or a family, who could be instructed to call proper authorities should something happen to you. If you’re going someplace remote with no cell signal, you might want to consider investing in a satellite phone.
Before setting up camp, always check that you have the numbers to your emergency contact. The police, the nearest hospital, and other people you feel would be of help should the worst comes to worst.
When we are faced with a crisis, our bodies tend to reach their extremities. Our minds and bodies may freeze, disabling us from moving any further. It may trigger our fight or flight response, or worst, trigger our anxieties. During a crisis, the first and most important thing you should do is to keep yourself calm and focused. Below are some tips you might want to orient yourself to prepare for emergent situations.
O.O.D.A is an acronym for Observe, Orient, Decide, Act. It is a decision loop/cycle developed by the United States Air Force Colonel, John Boyd. Although its original intent is to address military or personal conflicts, it can also be applied to most situations in dealing with a crisis. It is mainly meant for quickly adapting to a problem and thus shouldn’t be used as a catch-all for all scenarios.
When you are frightened, remember O.O.D.A. Observe the environment/situation, orient yourself based on the information you have, decide on a plan of action, and lastly, act on said plan. It may appear to be evident and elementary, but when one finds themselves in a crisis, it could be difficult to calm the nerves and think clearly.
Never go alone in the outdoors.
No matter how many times you’ve camped on the same site, there is no way of telling what could happen to you. Always stay with your group, find your “person”, or if you’re camping alone, ensure that your emergency contact is ready and available for any situation.
Have a map, a whistle, or a phone with you at all times, so if you find yourself lost in the wild, it will be easier for your group or rescue teams to find you.
Don’t let fear get the best of you.
Fear is a normal and natural response to a crisis, and it’s essential to understand how to deal with it when it arises. No matter how frightened you are, it’s important to be in the moment and realize that even with fear, you are still here. Distracting oneself with a productive task or even talking to yourself can help calm your nerves.
Depending on the situation, you may not be in immediate danger, so it’s crucial to have the mindfulness to keep calm and focus on the tasks at hand. We highly recommend having a satellite phone for this. They can be purchased with global access to search and rescue or emergency services. Having another person to talk to is very important when you are scared. Often, the other party can reassure you and guide you on the necessary steps. Being totally off the grid can be calming and centering. But during emergencies, it’s important to be able to ask for help.
Relax and Meditate
The fright/flight response is a normal reaction that may happen when you are in a crisis. Controlling your breathing and heart rate is an excellent first step that can re-focus you on the task at hand.
Keep yourself grounded by taking slow, deep breaths. Focus on your breathing and your breathing only. It will help you stay focused and calmer. Feeling your chest rise and fall can re-align your thoughts into a more peaceful state of mind. This is an excellent way to “reset” oneself and stop the fear response.
Another way to ground yourself is by taking in your environment. Take note of what you see, hear, touch, smell, and taste. This will help deviate your thoughts from the crisis and calm you down before returning to your supposed tasks.
If someone in your group experience a mental crisis such as a breakdown or a panic attack, help them calm down by encouraging them to breathe with you slowly.
You may take a deep breath now; the worst has finally come to an end. Crisis management, however, does not stop there. You must be able to assess what happened to ensure that no encores would occur.
Evaluate your surroundings
No matter what situation that you’re in, you should assess your environment post-crisis. If you’ve improvised a camping tool, you might want to double-check if it’s doing what it’s supposed to do. On the other hand, if it’s a sudden rainstorm, you should ensure that all your belongings are in a safe and dry place. If someone was injured, you should check if others might seek medical care.
Take the time to evaluate what happened and how you addressed it, as this may be crucial knowledge should it happen again.
Camping is meant to be a retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city and all the stress it entails. Unfortunate situations, however, are unavoidable. Many different situations can happen when you’re outdoors, and should a crisis happen, one must remain calm and grounded. It could also be avoided by preparing for emergencies ahead of time.
We hope this general guide can prepare you for any uncertainty. Now, the only thing left to do is to start packing and get camping!
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