Staying safe, camping smart


When we head out on our camping and touring adventures, we like to have our ducks in a row. (Yes, we are just a bit Type A when it comes to planning and such–ahem.) But one area where I feel we are at least justified in our neurotic planning is making sure we have taken safety and security into account. We have incorporated a few key safety measures in our camper and our traveling so we can stay safe and camp smart.

Staying safe, camping smart

Door Chime: We love the “garage door” at the rear of our travel trailer that allows us to easily take along the kids’ bikes or other odd-shaped items. Additionally it is nice to have this door in the camper’s bunkhouse as an emergency exit. But we were nervous a kiddo might try to “escape” through this door without us knowing. My solution was to install a magnetic door chime
. It has two settings: “chime” and “alarm.” When the door is opened, the magnetic seal is broken on the device and the alarm sounds. This has given us peace of mind that even if a kiddo opened the door while we are sleeping, we will immediately know–as will our camping neighbors!

Door Chime

Smoke alarm and CO2 detector: Kristin and I are a bit overzealous when it comes to smoke alarms and CO2 detectors. We have always had smoke alarms in every bedroom and on each floor of the house. After my dad’s house burned down a few years ago–destroying the entire house–we became even more … well … shall we say, paranoid? So while most campers come with a smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector located in the main area of the camper, we added an additional of each in the bunkhouse since it is somewhat closed off from the main area. Our rationale is that if a fire were to happen in the camper, every second counts because fires quickly rip through campers. Additionally, this camping season, we plan to practice a camper firedrill with our kiddos. We already do drills at home, but we realized they probably wouldn’t know what to do in the camper since the escape options are slightly different.

Smoke AlarmCO2 detector

Bed rails for bunks: We mentioned these in the past over here, but since they are a key safety feature in our bunkhouse, we thought it was worth including in the list. We’ve also seen some people use the thicker foam pool noodles, tucked under the fitted bed sheet, to keep kiddos from rolling out of beds.

Amber Stick: One of my previous adventures was as a K-9 Search and Rescue (SAR) dog handler. From that experience I learned how critical the first few hours of a missing child case are to a positive outcome. Families faced with this kind of traumatic situation often find it difficult to think clearly enough to find a quality, recent picture and then provide up-to-date information (height, weight, etc.) that can be provided quickly to law enforcement and SAR personnel. The Amber Stick is a USB flash drive where you can easily store vital information and pictures of your whole family. In the event of a missing person situation, the device can be given to law enforcement officers who can plug it into their computer and quickly generate all the information that they need for an Amber Alert, missing person fliers, and a missing person profile.

Itinerary: Before we head out on a camping trip, we like to send an email to family members about our travel plans. This info includes important details like our vehicle’s license plate number, the days we will be traveling, the contact information for the campground(s) where we are staying, and any other helpful information in the event of an emergency. This might seem overzealous, but we have found that many campgrounds–due to sometimes remote locations–don’t always have great cell reception. During our last trip to Chapman State Park in Clarendon, Pa., my grandmother passed away. My dad was camping with us, but none of our cell phones had a signal, so family members had to contact the state park, and then a park ranger had to drive through the campground and park until he located us.

Bonus tip: We talked about how we use a weather alert radio over on this post, but thanks to Kerri from Travels with Birdy for reminding me! Last summer on our West trip we found it was easier to use the Weather Channel’s alert app on our phones, but in the event we didn’t have great cell reception it was nice to have the radio on hand, too.

So these are just a few tips for staying safe and camping smart. If you camp with kids or grandkids, be sure to see our post with tips for a safe and fun campfire.

Do you have any safety suggestions to add? If so, leave a comment below.

Note: This post contains affiliate links. Our disclosure policy can be found here.


8 thoughts on “Staying safe, camping smart

  1. Kerri

    Great list of tips! The only safety tip I would add would be to have an awareness of the weather. We have weather apps on our phone that alert us to severe weather in any location, and we try to pay attention to what county we are in. We had a tornado warning last spring while camping, which made us more aware of keeping up with the weather.

    1. Kristin

      Great point Kerri! I’ve updated the post with a link to a post where we talk about using a weather alert radio. Thanks for reminding me! 🙂

  2. Will T.

    Awesome tips! We are in the process of rebuilding our camper van before we go on our planned 1 year roadtrip starting on January. Glad I found this post. I’m getting the magnetic door alarm now and the smoke / co2 detector. It’s really a helpful article.

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