If you think about it, there’s really no reason to buy a tent. Many campsites allow for car camping, where instead of pitching a tent, you can sleep in your car. Yet, you might have concerns about whether this is truly safe. The fact is, it’s just as safe as sleeping in a tent.
The following is a list of measures you can take to stay safe in your car while camping. Continue reading to learn more.
General Tips for Keeping Yourself Safe While Camping in your Car
Later, we’ll get into more details about what devices you can purchase to keep yourself safe while camping. However, some general measures to include:
- Be mindful of your surroundings. It’s always best to choose a campsite near other campers. That way, if you need help, they’re just a short walk away.
- Consider your campsite’s climate. If you’re camping in an extremely cold or extremely warm area, you need to plan accordingly. This may include purchasing handheld fans or insulated clothing.
- Be reasonable. Ask yourself: how many people can comfortably fit in your car? While you might not have a problem packing people in your car like sardines, matters change when you’re trying to sleep. If you’re planning a camping trip with six people in a four-door sedan, consider using a larger vehicle.
Even if you’ve been to your favorite campsite dozens of times, you should always prepare for the worst. This includes foreseeing certain hazards and having emergency plans in place.
Buy Self-Defense Devices
If you’re in danger, you have to think fast. Chances are, if you’re sleeping in your car, you won’t have to worry about a bear rolling down the window and attacking you. Unfortunately, it’ll likely be another person. In the words of BBC: “Humans are ‘unique super predators.’”
Consider how these self-defense devices can protect you when camping:
First things first, it’s a good idea to research your state’s laws before purchasing pepper spray. While you can generally purchase these items from sporting goods stores and other retailers, some states limit how much you can purchase. Others note that you cannot possess pepper spray if you’re under 18 years old.
Pepper spray immediately incapacitates someone when sprayed into their eyes––especially if they’re under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Moreover, most over-the-counter brands don’t contain noxious chemicals that would blind or poison the other person.
Some pepper sprays come with keychains, so you can attach them to your keys. Others come with carrying cases that you can keep in your pocket.
Just like pepper spray, some states limit who can own a taser. For instance, if you live in Florida, you can have a taser with few limitations. However, if you live in Rhode Island in Hawaii, you may need a permit.
Even so, you should undergo training to properly use a taser. Many gun stores offer training lessons and precision targeting. If you don’t know how to use a taser, you risk injuring yourself––and not your attacker.
A Nightstick, Baton, or “Billy Club”
Nightsticks, batons, and Billy clubs are weapons as old as time. They’re usually made out of steel, hard plastic, rubber, or wood. Just like the other defensive items listed above, some states have restrictions on who can own and use nightsticks. For instance, these states ban the use of expendable batons:
- New York
- Washington, D.C.
You can use a nightstick to block attacks or defend yourself in other ways. Sometimes, just having one is enough to deter a perpetrator.
Protect Yourself Against the Elements
When camping in your car, protecting yourself against the elements is crucial. Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), thousands of people each year die from hypothermia and heatstroke. Ways to protect yourself from these ailments include:
- Purchasing a battery-operated blanket. Many protects on Amazon are also rechargeable, meaning using its USB cord, you can plug it into your car’s outlet and stay warm all night.
- Getting a battery-powered fan. The benefits of a battery-operated fan are the same as those listed above. Even though a fan just circulates air, it will keep you from sweating and getting dehydrated. If your car has electrical or mechanical problems, be wary of that, as well.
- Bringing bagged food. If you don’t have access to a firepit or another source of heat, you’re better off bringing package food like chips, granola bars, and beef jerky. You should avoid bringing anything that needs to be on ice. Not only does this take up space, but just like everything else, ice doesn’t last forever.
- Bringing water. You’re not limited to bringing bottled water on a trip. Instead, you can buy a “water bag.” This easy-to-store device carries five to 40 liters of water, reducing the risk of dehydration and heatstroke.
Have a Mechanic Inspect Your Car Before You Start Your Trip
Camping in your car is more than falling asleep in the back seat. It also requires having a maintained vehicle. For example, if you want to charge your phone in your car, make sure your car’s battery has a solid charge.
The same goes if you want to use the air conditioning. Have a mechanic check your air filter and compressors, so you can get the most out of your AC. You may also consider:
- Getting your tires changed. The weaker a tire’s tread, the more likely the car is to slide back on uneven terrain.
- Checking for any leaks. You don’t want to inhale carbon monoxide or other noxious fumes while you’re asleep in your car.
- Getting your coolant levels checked. Coolant keeps your car’s engine from overheating. The hotter the engine, the hotter you’ll be while in your vehicle.
A Final Word
If you’re planning a camping trip where you sleep in your car, it’s important to plan ahead. You want to keep yourself safe from any attackers, protect yourself from the elements, and make sure your car is roadworthy.
For more information about camping safety, check out the National Park Service’s website.