3 Emergency Camping Scenarios + Solutions

Emergencies come at unexpected times. That’s part of what makes them emergencies: you don’t see them coming. But even if you can’t predict a lightning storm or flash flood coming in, you can prepare yourself against it.

We put our heads together with our partners to give you these three scenarios you should be aware of, and tips for how to prepare so you and your family stay safe.

1. Flash Flood

A flash flood is perhaps the most immediately damaging emergency situation you might find yourself in. Why? It’s hard to get away from. If you’re in its path, you need to get out of its path, and that’s not always easy. Especially if your staked-in tent and gear is also in its path. There’s nothing worse than having all your gear get swept away into a larger body of water, or having thoroughly soaked gear.

So, what do you do when you see a flash flood? Well, let’s take a step back. By the time you see a flash flood, it’s probably coming towards you.

The best way to avoid a flash flood is therefore preventative and ahead-of-time, rather than in the moment. What do we mean by this? Set up camp on high ground. Choose a spot that, should there be a flood of a couple inches to a couple feet, will still be above the water level.

2. Lightning

Depending on where you camp, lightning storms can roll in and pose a serious threat to your safety. Again, there are preventative steps you can take against lightning.

Avoid open fields when you pitch your tent, as the metal in most tentpoles conducts electricity. Don’t set your tent up under the tallest tree in the forest.

If you find yourself out in the field when a lightning storm rolls in, go down. We’ve all heard pieces of advice around avoiding lightning: squat in a ball and cover your head, get away from big trees, avoid bodies of water… In the moment, though, it can be hard to remember all these things. And it’s certainly difficult to remain calm huddled in a squat ball. So, watch the sky. Lightning won’t just appear on top of you, it will come from afar, and you will almost always hear it before it gets close to you. When you start to suspect lightning is on its way, make moves to get to low ground or safe shelter.

3. Tornadoes

The golden rule of staying safe during tornadoes? Get small. Imagine being a gopher. When a tornado comes, you would go into your hole in the ground and wait it out. You, as a human, want to do something similar. Get to a low-lying area such as a ditch or a depression, and get small. Curl up on the ground and you’ll significantly reduce the chances the tornado affects you.

If your camp is set up and tornado-force winds start blowing in, assess your situation. Depending on the type of camping you’re doing, you have a couple options. For instance, the car camper would do best to break down camp and drive to a safer, less exposed location. The backcountry camper, on the other hand, has fewer options. You might need to break down your tent regardless to make sure it doesn’t blow away. Then, the best course of action would be to follow our tornado mantra above: get small. Find a spot for you and your pack, then hunker down.

Whether you’re dealing with flash floods, lightning, or tornadoes, emergency preparedness can save your life.

A Beginner’s Guide to Solar Phone Chargers

Generally considered to be delicate technology, solar devices are nevertheless needed in the most unpredictable conditions. Waterproof and dustproof certifications are a must-have for basic accident-proof protection and usability in rough conditions on the trail. Weather “resistant” should never be confused with “waterproof.” Durable coating is a positive, but waterproof and durable construction is better.

A large portion of solar phone chargers on the market can recharge your phone–but only in direct sun. When a cloud passes over, or when you need a quick boost after night falls, the solar panels might as well be shiny paper. Battery packs on the other hand store energy and ensure uninterrupted charging, creating a more versatile solar device for charging whenever it’s needed–even if the sun’s out of sight.

Size and portability are among a gear junky’s biggest worries. Ideally, your solar charger will not only be compact but will also be fully integrated–no extra battery packs or cords. Design, and by extension efficiency, are what differentiate bulky chargers from practical ones. Make sure the solar phone charger packs flat for easy portability, and that it won’t weigh down your pack. Solar phone chargers on the market tend to weigh between 10 to 30 oz (280 to 850 g), including integrated or external batteries.

Ask yourself, “How much of a hassle will it be every time I want to start charging my phone?” Is there unfolding, unpacking, a whole struggle of finding the perfect rock to prop up the panels? If so, it may not be the solar phone charger for you. Ideally, the solar charger will be easy to hook to a backpack, or sit in one hand. It should be able to recharge its battery even when your phone isn’t connected (another important reminder about integrated batteries!). That way, you can take advantage of a sunny day, and recharge your phone later that night when it’s actually running low on battery.

Solar phone chargers are an investment in communicating more easily, and sharing moments no matter where you are. It’s therefore important to ensure that the solar phone charger has a solid warranty. This includes the length of warranty, as well as what it covers. It goes without saying that full warranties are always more dependable than “limited warranties”.

Reducing Energy Poverty: Not Only for Solar and Impact Investors

Burning kerosene to light homes and businesses has serious drawbacks. Breathing kerosene fumes is equivalent to smoking two packs of cigarettes a day. Structural fires and severe burns are common, resulting in fatalities 13 percent of the time. Meanwhile, kerosene fuel costs 40 times what the average American pays for energy, making it a significant hindrance to economic advancement for individuals and communities.

Studies from India indicate that electrification, from anything from solar lighting to microgrids, increases incomes up to 38 percent and literacy rates as much as 74 percent. As the burden of high kerosene costs are removed and families have access to reliable energy, significant economic potential is being unlocked globally. Yet we’ve only begun to enable this growing market.

Over the past decade, social impact investors and entrepreneurs have provided solar energy solutions to people at the base of the economic pyramid and generated financial returns on par with conventional investments. But, for the vision of economic development in emerging markets to be fully realized, the industry needs more conventional funds and large investors to finance companies improving energy access in emerging markets.

Over the past decade, social impact investors and entrepreneurs have provided solar energy solutions to people at the base of the economic pyramid and generated financial returns on par with conventional investments. But, for the vision of economic development in emerging markets to be fully realized, the industry needs more conventional funds and large investors to finance companies improving energy access in emerging markets.

Today, solar products are doing the same with energy access. As of mid-2015, over 13 million brand-quality portable solar lights had been sold worldwide, budding into a $300 million market.

Social Impact: Real Markets, Real Returns

The market of off-grid families and businesses is ripe for opportunity. In this space, businesses and investors can make strong returns and have a tremendous impact on the quality of life and economic futures of individuals, villages, and entire countries.

In its Impact Investing Benchmark research, Cambridge Associates and GIIN found that fully realized and closed impact investment funds outperformed their conventional peer group by 10 percentage points. Later funds that were not yet fully realized also showed returns on par with conventional investment strategies.

The University of Pennsylvania Wharton Social Impact Initiative found that impact investing private equity funds (both realized and unrealized) yielded approximately a 13 percent return between 2000 and 2014. When the social or environmental mission of the company persisted after the investment exit, returns were comparable with non-mission-aligned exits.

These and other studies are debunking the myth that strong financial returns and social impact are incompatible. Investors with financial returns as their guiding principle no longer need to wait for real examples of international social-benefit companies that are scaling successfully and providing commercial-level returns. The evidence is clear and continues to mount.

As the market grows exponentially, more working capital from traditional funds is needed to provide greater numbers of people with energy and economic opportunity. Historically, sizable investments in energy have funded centralized infrastructure like government-backed grid expansion. However, in today’s emerging markets, the most efficient and scalable model is decentralized energy delivery. Small, individualized solutions are more affordable and empower families to control their own energy usage.

Many solar energy businesses are leading the way with cutting-edge technology and comprehensive distribution networks, and millions of families in developing countries are poised to adopt these new, truly life-changing solutions. But the industry needs more institutional investors to provide working capital to take advantage of the rapidly approaching inflection point.

Investments in off-grid energy today will have a ripple effect for generations to come, delivering returns to investors and collectively improving macro-economies. The opportunity is at hand to power the arrival of these markets onto the global stage.