Happy campers use electricity safely

Even ‘getting away from it all’ might require some electricity

Camping gets us into the great outdoors and lets us leave civilization behind. Yet, for personal preferences or medical reasons, many of us still want or need the modern conveniences or necessities electricity provides.

Fortunately, most popular campgrounds have electricity at individual sites. For “off-grid” camping, generators and solar panels are becoming more portable.

“Even when we’re trying to get away from it all,” said Jon Elkins, Vice President, Safety, Training & Compliance at Indiana Electric Cooperatives, “most of us want at least a small refrigerator or an air mattress inflator or our CPAP so we’re not keeping the entire campground awake with our snoring. Those things need electricity, and using electricity anywhere requires the same mindfulness as when we’re at home.”

Here are some things campers should keep in mind.

Before you go

Make sure a fire extinguisher is included with your gear. A general ABC fire extinguisher will cover (A) ordinary combustibles, like wood and grass, and (C) fires involving electrical current. Make sure the extension cord you plan to run from the hookup to your tent is heavy enough to handle the load you intend to plug into it. It should have three prongs and a built-in Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupter as an added safety measure.

Beware and observant

Once you arrive at your campsite, inspect the electrical hookup for any damage. For tent camping, a 30-amp hookup is probably the most you’ll need, and it should have a GFCI installed. Make sure your extension cord to your tent doesn’t create a trip hazard. Also, keep it away from the campfire, the drive lane and water.

RV hookups may have a 50-amp outlet designed for larger RVs. If you need an extension cord, make sure it is rated the same or higher than the supply cord you plugged into the hookup. Using an insufficient size can underpower devices, or overheat wires. Always use a quality RV surge protector between the hookup and your RV.

“Ticks, mosquitoes, poison ivy and scratches might come with camping. But so do crickets, fireflies and starry night skies,” Elkins poetically waxed. “Having electricity when we camp has many benefits, we just have to keep in mind safety, though, too.”