Tent near woods at night

Essential Camping Survival Skills

Essential Camping Survival Skills

11 June 2024

Camping out with family and friends is a summer highlight, but being exposed to the elements isn’t without potential risks. Discover the most common camping hazards and how to avoid them.


When looking for the perfect spot to pitch your tent the most important consideration is to find a sheltered spot on flat ground – this can make the difference between a good night’s rest and a camping nightmare.

Formal campsites provide level and safe plots on which to pitch your tent. Take advantage of natural windbreaks and position your tent so the door is facing away from the wind to avoid strong gusts.

If you're wild camping (make sure you have the landowner’s permission) choose an area strewn with sand, grass or dirt rather than rocks and roots. Brush away any sticks, stones or tree branches which might poke you while you sleep.

Safety Tip: Never set up camp close to moving water and avoid low-lying areas as, if it rains, you risk waking up in a puddle – or worse, in a deadly flash flood.


If you are on a campsite with a designated fire area, always use it. If your family is camping in a rugged area, your fire bed should be on bare earth not grass (especially dead grass) or near trees and vegetation. Dry grass, branches and bark catch fire extremely easily. Read our article for a step-by-step guide on how to build a fire pit and light a campfire.

Safety Tip: Keep flammables away from the fire and use rocks to build a non-flammable barrier around your fire.


It is important to choose a firm, level surface at ground level where the stove can’t be knocked over. Make sure it’s at least 3m away from flammable items and tents. Get everything you need before starting to cook and make it clear to fellow campers when the stove is lit.

Keep checking there is a flame, especially in bright sunlight and never leave a lit stove unattended or unwatched.

Even before your camping trip, make sure you're confident using your portable stove. Be aware of any dangers associated with the stove and know, in advance, what to do if it catches fire.

Safety Tip: Never cook in a tent – fire can destroy a tent in under a minute. And never take a barbecue into a tent. Even a cooling barbecue gives off poisonous carbon monoxide which can kill.


Ticks are tiny spider-like creatures found in grass and woodlands and are common when camping especially when walking or pitching in the woods. If you or someone you are with notices a tick on them using tweezers, grasp the tick’s head as close to the skin as you can. Gently pull the head upwards using steady even pressure.

Do not jerk the tick as this may leave its mouthparts embedded. Place the tick in a sealed plastic bag and give it to the casualty for identification. Encourage the casualty to seek medical help if they feel unwell.

Safety Tip: Cover your body when walking in woods and long grass, e.g. wear long-sleeved shirts and tuck your trousers into your socks. Keep to footpaths whenever possible, use insect repellent and wear light-coloured clothing (to help you spot a tick on them). On return, shower and check yourself for ticks.

If you are planning a camping trip this summer be sure to read our camping checklist to make sure you have all the essentials packed; and discover our favourite camping activities! To experience camping and other outdoor activities why not find an ACF detachment near you and join the Army Cadet Force!