Survival Skills: Build a Perimeter Alarm for Your Camp

Ever wake in the morning while in the wild and wonder if man or beast has wandered into your camp late at night while you slept?

With a simple alarm system, you may be able to rest a little easier.

You won't find the professional version of this contraption at your local sporting goods store, but if you travel the far north, you'll find places that sell trip wire flares. These flares are used in remote camps to warn of polar bear and grizzly bear incursions.

We can also make our own version of this warning system to wake ourselves up if something big blunders into camp during the night. All you'll need to set this up is an air horn, some mono filament, a small stick and a flat rock.
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The trip wire warning system works like this:**

  • Bury the canister of the air horn in the ground, leaving the horn and the button exposed.
  • Position the flat rock to fall on the air horn button, and prop up the rock with the small stick.
  • Tie your mono filament to the small stick, and run it out as a trip wire across a trail, or make a circuit all the way around camp.
  • Tie off the mono to a bush, rock or stake keeping the mono about 1 foot off the ground for its entire length.

Then you let this simple device do its job. If something hits the trip wire, the small stick is pulled out from underneath the flat rock. The rock immediately falls, smacking the button on top of the air horn. The loud sound scares the intruder, and alerts the residents to the breach of security.

Boating supply stores carry good-quality air horns. Party supply stores will often stock a lower quality air horn at a cheaper price than the nautical variety.

And in case you haven't already thought this through, this setup also makes for an outstanding practical joke around camp. Set this up on your main trail into camp and see who sets it off first. Just make sure they aren't carrying your dinner, and that their heart can stand the shock.