One of my favorite things to do growing up was camping in the backyard. Now that I’m older I can’t help but look back and ask myself… Is camping in the backyard actually safe or is it dangerous? How safe is backyard camping? Should I let my kids camp in the backyard freely?
There are several factors that determine whether or not backyard camping is safe. Some of those factors include: whether or not you live in a safe and secure neighborhood, the local crime rates, what type of climate you live in, and the landscape or make-up of your backyard. For kids safety, some factors to consider include the child’s age, whether close parental supervision is necessary, and the child’s overall disposition toward rules and their ability to be aware of their surroundings.
In this article, we will take a look at several of these factors to help determine if camping in the backyard is safe for you and/or your kids.
7 factors to consider that’ll help determine if backyard camping is safe for you and your kids
- Do you live in a safe and secure neighborhood?
- What type of climate do you live in?
- Have you checked the weather forecast?
- Have you surveyed your backyard, overhead objects, and surrounding areas?
- Do you have a lot of mosquitoes or other bugs in your area?
- Are you planning on enjoying a campfire?
- Kids and parental supervision
1. Do you live in a safe and secure neighborhood?
If you are thinking about camping in your backyard, the first thing you should ask yourself is, “Is my neighborhood safe?” While considering this question you will inevitably need to think about all of your neighbors and conclude whether or not you feel they are trustworthy, good people. You can always check the sex offender registry for your area. Two great websites to use to check the registry is https://www.familywatchdog.us/ or https://www.fbi.gov/scams-and-safety/sex-offender-registry. At our house, we believe in looking for the good in all people but we also believe in being prepared and protecting our children and ourselves. It’s unfortunate but one of the best indicators of crime from individuals is their past. In May of 2018, the U.S. Department of Justice released a special report about the statistics of criminals that are repeat offenders during a 9-year follow-up period. The report said, “Five in 6 (83%) state prisoners released in 2005 across 30 states were arrested at least once during the 9 years following their release. The remaining 17% were not arrested after release during the 9-year follow-up period.“ Eighty-three percent of criminals are repeat offenders is too high of a percentage to just ignore. Better safe than sorry when it comes to safety and security!
While considering security you should also look at your backyard layout. Do you have at least a 6 foot high solid, view-blocking fence? Fences like that are great deterrents to discourage criminals from entering. Most criminals are looking for easy targets and they are likely to move on from the yards that have locked fences that are not see-through.
Lastly, do you have motion detecting lights? This is another fantastic way to scare away potential criminals. The way I see it is you can never be over-prepared or too cautious when it comes to you and your families safety and security.
Camping in your backyard may not be safe if you have a lot of crime in your area. However, in most locations, with the right precautions and preparedness, backyard camping is likely to be a safe and enjoyable experience.
2. What type of climate do you live in? (°F = degrees Fahrenheit)
In order to be safe while camping in your backyard, you will want to consider what climate you live in. Is it cold enough to get below freezing (0 °C, 32 °F)? Or is it hot enough to not get below 90 to 100 °F at night? These are important things to consider. I remember getting heatstroke when I was about 10 years old because I was outside all day and night without drinking enough water. It was an awful experience. It is critical to be able to recognize heat stroke, especially in children. According to kidshealth.org Symptoms of Heat Stroke include:
- increased thirst.
- muscle cramps.
- nausea and/or vomiting.
- increase sweating.
If you are worried that a child or loved one has Heat Stroke please make sure you call your family doctor’s office without delay!
Camping in the backyard can also be unsafe if it gets below freezing and you don’t have the right clothing or equipment to keep yourself warm. It is absolutely essential that you get a sleeping bag that is rated for the temperature that you are camping in.
Summer/low elevation sleeping bags: 32°F (0 °C) and above
Three-season sleeping bags: 20 to 32°F
Cold weather/winter sleeping bags: 20°F (-6.6 °C) and below
For winter backyard camping sleeping bags that are rated for 20 °F (-6.6 °C) and below are necessary for a safe and comfortable camping experience.
KIDS – The Right Sleeping Bag
Kids get so excited about backyard camping even when it’s cold, at least mine do. I don’t feel comfortable letting my boys sleep outside if it’s getting much below freezing but if it’s supposed to stay above 30°F then the best all-purpose sleeping that we found for our kids is the TETON Sports Celsius Kids Sleeping Bag (click here to check the Price on Amazon). My kids love this sleeping bag and I feel more confident that they won’t freeze all night!
Adults – The Right Sleeping Bag
If you’re also looking for a better sleeping bag or don’t have one, we like the TETON Sports Regular Sleeping Bag (click here to check the price on Amazon). This a comfortable, warm, and inexpensive sleeping bag!
Considering your local climate and preparing for camping in the yard according to that climate will make camping at home safe.
3. Have you checked the weather forecast?
Imagine one evening you step out on your back porch to see a beautiful sunset and not a cloud in sight. So you ignorantly suggest to your family that it would be a great night to camp in the yard. However, little did you know that a storm was accumulating and converging on your location around 3 AM! So you wake up in the middle of the night soaked, cold, and miserable. Lucky for you the convenience of backyard camping is that your home is only feet away.
To avoid such a circumstance, checking the weather is a great indicator of whether or not it is safe to camp in the backyard on any particular night. One of my favorite weather apps is Weather Underground because they allow you to manually choose the weather station of your choice to get your forecast. I enjoy the ability to test weather stations and choose the one that I like best but it also will choose for you if you give the app access to your location. Two thumbs up! Making sure the weather is good will keep you and your kids safe from the elements while camping in the backyard.
Checking the weather forecast for a night with good weather will make your backyard camping experience safe and dry!
4. Have you surveyed your backyard, overhead objects, and surrounding areas?
One thing that I have noticed about children, especially the younger ones, is that they aren’t particularly skilled at being aware of their surroundings. I suppose that’s why we have to work so hard to teach them that the stove is hot without them actually touching it and that the road is dangerous without them being hit by a car. Surveying an area that your kids will be playing in before they jump right in is an important habit to form as parents.
Let me illustrate the importance of surveying a backyard and surrounding area before allowing your kids to run around unsupervised. When I was about eight years old I was at my grandpa’s house playing with my younger sister and some friends in the yard. His backyard had a thick line of trees along a fence and we would spend hours climbing and crawling under those trees. One day we found a basketball-sized Wasp nest hanging from a branch about 10 to 15 feet off the ground. So as rational and responsible young boys we left it alone and went right away to tell my grandpa… Wait a minute… That doesn’t seem right. We were like eight years old… So as you can imagine we actually started hucking anything we could find; rocks, sticks, shoes, you name it, at the nest. Within minutes we had a swarm of ticked wasps flying at us, butt stingers locked and loaded, ready to take us down! Lucky for us we escaped with only a few stings but it easily could have been much worse. My nephew, for example, is allergic and the last time he was stung by a wasp on his lips they swole up until he looked like one of those teen girls that did the Kylie Jenner lip challenge. Nevertheless, being aware of our surrounds and doing a quality survey of the backyard and surrounding area is important in order to have a safe backyard camping trip.
Backyard camping is a fun and safe activity if you routinely survey your yard and surrounding areas for hazardous and dangerous materials, forgotten tools, or unsavory characters lurking around.
5. Do you have a lot of mosquitoes or other bugs in your area?
Talking about wasps and being aware of your surroundings is a great reminder to be aware of bugs that might be in your area which includes pesky mosquitoes. As I’m sure most of you are aware, mosquitoes are annoying! Additionally, they can carry harsh diseases that might be more dangerous than you might have expected.
According to The American Mosquito Control Association, “Mosquitoes cause more human suffering than any other organism — over one million people worldwide die from mosquito-borne diseases every year. Not only can mosquitoes carry diseases that afflict humans, they also transmit several diseases and parasites that dogs and horses are very susceptible to.”
Mosquito-borne diseases include:
- Dog Heartworm
- Yellow Fever
- Eastern Equine Encephalitis
- St. Louis Encephalitis
- LaCrosse Encephalitis
- Western Equine Encephalitis
- West Nile Virus
- Zika Virus
Be aware of the mosquito population in your area and if anyone in your area has been infected with one of these diseases. Use bug spray or other repellents to protect your family from these and all other undesirable bugs and creepy crawlers.
Check out Mosquito safety tips in this YouTube Video
Spiders are another potentially dangerous bug. You should especially be concerned about Black Widow Spiders! According to PestWorld.org, these spiders can be found worldwide with five species established in the United States and are most recognized for the red hourglass shape under their abdomen. Although fatalities are rare, the black widow’s venom is reported to be 15 times stronger than a rattlesnake’s and can cause muscle aches and nausea, as well as make breathing difficult.
Black widows favor dry, dark locations to spin their webs. Outdoors, black widow spiders commonly live in protected areas. These include under stones and decks, as well as in firewood piles and hollow tree stumps. The preferred habitats of black widows are dry man-made structures including barns, outhouses, sheds, meter boxes, brick veneer, barrels, and woodpiles. To minimize the risk of getting bitten by a Black Widow Spider you should reduce clutter and not store chopped wood right next to your house. If you notice spider webs, be cautious and consider contacting a licensed pest control professional. PestWorld.org has a great tool to help you find a licensed pest control professional in your area.
If your backyard is infested with Black Widow Spiders, mosquitos, or other dangerous bugs then it might not be safe to camp in the backyard until you have mitigated or eliminated your pest problem.
6. Are you planning on enjoying a campfire?
I love campfires! The calming crackle of a warm fire does my heart good and S’mores… Yum! Are campfires in your backyard unsafe? I remember being fascinated with fire as a young kid. I tried many ways to make torches out of sticks and put them in the firepit to ignite and then carelessly fling that stick around our yard like I was Indiana Jones in the Temple of Doom! Needless to say, it was dangerous and I often would get reprimanded by a caring father. I could have burnt someone around me, started some bushes in our yard on fire, or dropped hot ashes on myself. None of which would have been fun. Campfires and kids can be dangerous! If the child is too young to understand what being burnt means then campfires might be unsafe for you unless you have catlike reflexes that allow you to stop your young one from throwing, anything and everything, including himself/herself, in the fire.
Something else to consider is inhaling wood smoke. Smoke from a wood fire can get into your eyes and respiratory system, where they may cause burning eyes, runny nose, and illnesses, such as bronchitis. One great way to combat wood smoke inhalation is to invest in a convenient gas/propane fire pit. We have a gas fire pit and let me just tell you it was the greatest purchase we have made aside from my pizza scissors. The benefits to a gas fire pit include no smoke, convenient and easy to ignite, they don’t make you and your clothes stink like a wood fire does, and easy to put out.
Backyard campfires can make your camping experience a little less safe unless you are aware and cautious of the risks associated with fires.
Check out these campfire safety tips in this YouTube video
7. Kids and Parental Supervision
Lastly, I want to say to parents of young kids, “Don’t be stupid!” That should be all I have to say to ensure that parents think twice before letting their youngsters wander the neighborhood unsupervised. It seems to often I see 5-year-old kids and younger meandering aimlessly about a neighborhood with no parental supervision in sight! You’ll have to forgive me but this stresses me out and drives me bonkers! Please keep tight tabs on your young kids, especially in the world that we live in today. I don’t believe we can let our kids roam quite as freely today as we might have when we were their age. On a serious note, we know of some people who lost their two-year-old who drowned in a creek because of losing sight of him for less than two minutes. Think about those undoable consequences. Please keep an eye on your little ones!
If you have established a solid system of parental supervision, your kids can enjoy backyard camping and you can be confident that they will be safe.
There are many factors to consider when determining if camping in your backyard is safe. I believe that in some cases camping in the yard may be a risky and unsafe venture but for the majority of people, it is safe or can be if you approach it correctly. I care deeply for my family and would be devastated if anything bad happened to them while camping in our backyard. I sincerely hope that this article helps you to determine if camping at your home is safe for you and your family.