Taking a camping trip outside of the city this summer may be on your agenda, but an enjoyable experience can turn into a tragic one if proper precautions aren’t taken while out in the woods. Planning ahead is extremely important along with learning the basics of woods and camping safety. Here are some simple tips to follow when camping out this season:
- Plan Ahead. If you an inexperienced camper, become aware of basic safety tips such as bug bites and stings, edible plants, exposure to heat, wind, water and cold, and getting lost. Learn about the area in which you will be staying and purchase a map of the campgrounds/town.
- Be Aware of Common Camping Dangers: Learn the basics of camping dangers such as sudden temperature drops or shifts and getting lost. Excessive heat can be a major problem for young children. On hot days, know that hiking in the cooler mornings and evenings is the best time to go. Wear skin protection including sunscreen, hats and light-colored cotton clothes. Another common danger is the risk of getting lost. Teach your kids how to recognize landmarks at the campsite and on hikes. Bring a map of the grounds with you and familiarize the trail before you go. Teach your kids to stick together and not to run off. Have your kids keep whistles on them at all times in case they do get lost, the whistle will help you to find them easily.
- Know What To Pack. Essentials for camping include: map of the area, compass, flashlight with extra batteries, food, water, portable stove, utensils and dishes, extra clothing, sunglasses and sunscreen, pocketknife, matches, candles or fire starter, insect repellent, and shelter (tarp and tent).
- Always Tell Someone Where You Are Going. Always let a family member or friend know where you are going and when you plan on being back. If something happens and you don’t return on time, they know to be on the lookout and can contact the forest rangers in the area.
- Know How to Set Up a Campsite. Ideally, you should camp in a designated area. This way you are less likely to encounter natural disasters such as forest fires and fallen trees. However, even in public campgrounds, other dangers lurk. Watch out for broken glass, discarded needles, and other hazardous trash. Before setting up camp, scope out the area for signs of animal and insect use – look for bees nests or an abundance of berries, this area might be a common site for bears to search for food. When building a fire, some campsites might have an area that is obvious a fire had been built by previous campers or even the campground officials. This is usually a good spot to start your fire. If there is no sign of a previous firepit, look for clearings in the campsite area. Portable stoves are best in dryer seasons.
- Don’t Drink the Water from Streams or Creeks. Always assume that these waters are contaminated. Giardia lamblia is a common parasitic contaminant that can cause nausea, bloating, gas, stomach cramps, and explosive diarrhea leading to dehydration. Most campsites will have a faucet with clean water that you can fill canteens with. If it does not, bring lots of bottled water. If you forgot to bring bottled water, use iodine tablets that dissolve in water. They’re inexpensive and effective for purifying water.
- Pack Plenty of Portable Foods. Bring camping-friendly foods such as peanut butter, bread, trail mix, fruit, granola bars, and other packaged foods. Learn about certain wild foods such as berries before you pick and eat them. They may be inedible and could even be lethal.
- Be Aware of Plants & Insects. Make sure you read up on poisonous plants such as poison ivy, oak, and sumac. Also make sure when hiking in high grass areas, you are wearing long pants and sleeves. Tucking your pants into your socks can help prevent ticks from clinging to you and your family.
- In Case of Injury, Bring a First-Aid Kit. Essentials for a first-aid kit include: adhesive bandages, gauze pads, a cold pack, cloth-based adhesive tape, Band-Aids, thermometer, non-latex gloves, safety pins, scissors, tweezers and needles, medications for pain or fever, and antibacterial cream.
Camping can a fun an exciting experience for the whole family! Follow the simple tips above to make the best out of your summer trip while keeping you and your family safe.
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