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How to stay safe while camping

By Chantal

Camping is and always has been one of the greatest pastimes of our community life. Camping is a great opportunity to make new friends, bond as a family, try new things and learn to appreciate the wonders of nature. Away from civilization, we can take a moment to pause and truly relax. Even the atmosphere is different; cleaner; purer. In the middle of all the enjoyment, the relaxation and the good times, we find that getting closer to nature comes not only with the pleasures, but with the dangers, difficulties and risks. It is therefore necessary to take appropriate precaution when going out camping in order to maximize the pleasures and minimize the risks.

It is interesting to know that most of the dangers that can be encountered during camping can actually be completely prevented by simply following good camping safety tips. There is really no need to stay indoors for fear of one thing or the other. Here are some camping safety tips which will definitely keep you safe.

Get vaccinated!

There are several vaccine-preventable infections which can be completely prevented simply by undergoing a routine vaccination event, which covers most of these infectious diseases. For the summer of 2017, a letter of recommended immunizations gave statistics of the past camping seasons. Over 3500 cases of the mumps were recorded and several other diseases like diphtheria, hepatitis B, measles, rubella, poliomyelitis, tetanus and chicken pox. Camping authorities are advised to keep good vaccination records of every attendee who comes to camp, in order to ensure a complete prevention of such outbreaks.

It is of optimum importance to ensure that every staff at camp is properly vaccinated and every attendee as well. This should be a steady item on your camping checklist. There are state recommended vaccinations which should be taken seriously. Also, any suspected infection which is vaccine-preventable should be immediately reported to the appropriate authorities who will then know the next step to take to prevent such a massive outbreak.

Tips for food safety

Naturally, one of the best things to do when camping is eating. Stocking your camping store with the appropriate types of foods is a crucial part of camping, so when doing planning for your camping trip, remember that there are no provision stores around that trail. It is common knowledge that eating carelessly could easily bring about food poisoning. Also, it is very important to stay hydrated, so water and other drinks will have to be on your camping checklist.

It is important to carefully plan what you will be eating depending on the length of the time you will spend on the camping trip.

In case of short trips such as would take a day, we could consider packing the following types of items among your things to take camping; nut-based bars or nut butter packs, nuts, seeds, dried fruits and veggies, energy bars, chews, gels, ready-made tuna salad pouches, whole-grain tortillas, poultry, salmon or meat jerky, trail mix, etc. The choices of what to take is quite broad for such a trip, and foods that are easily perishable can be taken along.

In the case of lengthier trips which may span well above a few days, it becomes a little more challenging to plan your foods. You may plan perishables on day one and for the rest of the days plan foods that can last longer in storage. We have foods like canned fish, powdered beverage mixes, dried soups and dehydrated foods, whole-grain pasta, couscous, rice mix, pancake mix, hot cereal, sachets of mayo, mustard, taco sauce and/or soy sauce. Other foods can be packed if you have the possibility of going along with a cooler.

To avoid food poisoning, one of the best things to take camping would be a food thermometer which you can use to ensure that the food is properly cooked before eating. According to good camping safety tips, make sure that foods including meats, such as burgers, poultry etc reach a cooking temperature of 165°F, which ensures that food is cooked properly and all germs are killed. Cold items should be preserved in a cooler to keep them at the proper temperature, at a maximum of 45°F, cold items should only be left beyond day 1 if they are stored in a cooler.

Storing the food should be done in a well-organized manner in your camping store; cold foods should be kept separate from the rest. Also, enough water should be taken along for the purpose of cooking and drinking. In a case where enough water cannot be carried along, definite things to take camping would include a water filter along with pots for boiling water. Water from springs and streams, if they must be used for drinking should be properly boiled to at least boiling temperature and then passed through a filter. This is to ensure that the water would be ready for consumption.

Lastly, watch the hygiene of the food, along with the cooking and eating utensils very carefully. Pots, pans and plates should be properly washed and kept clean before being returned to the camping store. Hands should be washed before and after handling food, and also, the camping store must be kept clean to avoid any contamination that could lead to food poisoning.

Bring a first aid kit and know how to use it.

Camping is filled with activities that can easily lead to injuries that require medical attention. That kind of help is almost always not very close at hand. The administration of first aid is well known to have made the difference between life and death in certain cases. It is therefore of primary importance to have a properly equipped first aid kit, which is a must among your things to take camping. Also, in accordance with the best camping safety tips available, the first aid kit should be kept somewhere easily accessible and reachable, but also out of the reach of small children.

Items like pain medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others), aspirin (meant only for adults, prohibited for children) and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others), gauze, latex gloves, tweezers, tissues, antiseptic wipes, cotton swabs, sterile compresses etc. Of course the things to take camping will be varied depending on the kind of trip and the individuals concerned.

Taking emergency supplies of insulin for example, may not be included on your camping checklist if diabetic individuals are not among the camping team. As such, careful thought should be taken when organizing the first aid kit. It would do some good to use a camping checklist to ensure that no item is forgotten. In the event of an accident, you may find that you are the only person able to apply that first aid. Therefore, it is needful that you, along with everyone on your team, or family know how to use and apply first aid treatment in case of a crisis situation.

The only thing worse than not having the first aid kit is not being able to use it, so, time should be given to carefully learning how to appropriately respond to each emergency situation. Know what to do when there is a cut, or an allergic reaction. Snake bites and other such cases can be fatal in a matter of minutes if the right steps are not followed. The whole idea of the first aid kit is that everyone should know how to give it, because trouble is not people-selective. In fact, one of the best things to do when camping is to educate the group on giving first aid in the wild.

First aid items should be stored preferably in waterproof containers. Also, the first aid kit needs to be well organized, and the items within it well labeled to avoid potentially costly mistakes. The items need to be carefully checked to ensure that they are not expired or infective in any way. Going for a trip without carefully checking the first aid kit could prove to be a very costly and careless mistake, so, proper attention should be given to the stocking of the first aid kit, and everyone in the camping group should at least know how to use it, and give basic first aid.

Aside from the ordinary first aid items, other emergency items such as waterproof matches, medical consent forms for each camper from their next of kins, in case there is an event where the family cannot be reached in time, medical history details, notepad and waterproof writing instrument, waterproof flashlight with extra batteries, solar charger, duct tape, sunscreen and a couple of whistles. Such items should be brought along. You never know when one of these may save your life.

Take along Bug repellant

Camping generally takes you out of the city, into insect friendly zones. Little things they are, but they sure can give you a hard time. If not infect you with certain diseases, they may actually through their bites and stings, give you a very uncomfortable rash. The environment of the camping trip is what shall determine your attire while in the bushes. Among the best camping safety tips you can find concerning clothing is that you stick to thick long-sleeved clothes, long pants, and gloves if possible. Anything to avoid physical contact of insects with your skin. Avoid clothes that show a lot of skin and in the case where the temperatures soar high, choose clothing material that does not accumulate much heat, but yet covers your body.

Stock your camping store with a good bug repellant, which will go a long way to keep insects away from your tent area, especially at night, which happens to be when insects such as mosquitoes are most active to feed. During the day, few insects fly about so in the day, one may not have to worry much about insects except you are moving through thick bushes, where they usually hide out from the sunlight, awaiting the night period when they come out.

Generally, insects follow scents of flowers in order to locate their natural nutrition, so, some smells are like a clarion call for insects. This means that certain colognes, deodorants and perfumes are not advisable to use, especially those that are flavored after fruits and flowers. It is better not to use them under these circumstances, if you are not sure if they will attract insects to you or not. Keeping leftovers from fruits that have been eaten and not properly disposed will definitely bring a great number of fruit flies and other insects. Leftover food should therefore be properly disposed of, and the plates and pans washed to ensure that insects are not attracted to the camping site by these food remains. So again, hygiene cannot be undermined.

If all preventive methods fail, and you are facing the insect, knowing how to deal with them can greatly change the situation.

In a bee swarm attack, the best reaction is to first cover your head with any extra clothing material you can get, and then run. Running is the best option because the bees will not chase you for a very long distance, they will give up and return to their hive. Killing a bee, or swatting at them is definitely a bad idea, as a crushed bee emits a substance which only triggers their wrath, and further attacks from all the other bees. There’s also the bad idea of jumping into water, which should be avoided, except you can stay under water for at least 10 to 15 minutes. Otherwise, it is not a good option, as they will wait for you to come up for air, to continue their attack.

In case of mosquitoes, they just come. Applying bug repellant is a good idea, as well as sleeping under a treated tent, which keeps them out. It is also important to ensure that they don’t get into the tent before you get in or as you get in, which just makes the situation worse.

Watch out for dangerous plants and fruits

It is impossible to avoid plants in general when camping, but it is very necessary to avoid the dangerous ones. Do what you must to familiarize yourself with the dangerous plants in your camping area. It is common to find plants such as poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac in the wild, especially when taking a hike while on a camping trip.

Poison ivy leaves usually appear in threes, which makes it easy to identify. The leaves of the third, actually occur in greater numbers, in the range of seven to thirteen leaves in the cluster. The leaves of the poison oak differ according to region and species. It is therefore important to identify them and avoid them. In the event that you mistakenly rub against them and notice it, take care to handle the clothing that has been contaminated, and wash it to avoid spreading the substance that causes the rash, as it can remain active on contaminated clothing for even months after such contact.

Fruit hunting can be among best things to do when camping. Some wild berries and other nice looking fruits tend to be poisonous, it is therefore better to bring your own fruits or eat just the ones you are absolutely sure about.

Fire safety and precaution.

One of the best things to do when camping is to sit around a fire, sharing stories. Fire is in fact so necessary that without the ability to start one, you probably should not go out camping. With all of its advantages, fire proves to be a good servant but a bad master. An uncontrolled fire can very easily ravage a whole forest with great cost of lives and property. It is therefore very important to make sure that fire is used in a very controlled way.

When using fire to light up the camping surroundings and roast marshmallows, the fire should be lit a good distance away from every tent, or any flammable materials. Fire should not be used for light inside a tent under any circumstances. A single piece of clothing set aflame can easily bring down the whole tent in flames. Instead, a torchlight or a lamp with glass surrounding the flame should be used. Such convenient light sources should definitely make your camping checklist. The surroundings of any fire should also be cleared of any dry twigs and leaves, which can easily spread the fire. All fires which are not properly guarded should be securely put out before going to sleep, and no burning embers should be left. All it takes is just a little heat, and dry grass.

If possible, cooking should be done with specialized equipment such as coal pots or kerosene stoves which completely contain and controlled the fire. You will do well to include such items on your camping checklist.

All the necessary fire safety rules should be followed to ensure that a wild fire does not result in your camp site. In the event of a fire though, first thing to do if possible is to call for help on a fire hot-line. After this, maintain a cleared zone of at least 20 m where the fire will not be able to get to you all round about. If you cannot make one in time, it is best to respond by searching for a water body such as a river in which you can hide, or to go across, as it would be hard for the fire to go across such a body of water. Also in case of such a fire, don’t try to save everything, take care of the essentials which would also be easy to carry for long distances.

Take sufficient animal precaution

The long guys (snakes), are not primarily interested in people. In fact, very few snake species will attack without provocation. It is important then not to give any room for any such event. When moving in areas where they could be hiding or resting, be attentive so that you do not to step on one. It saves a lot of stress if you can identify a threatened serpent, and slowly make your way back from its acclaimed territory, to avoid the risks involved in being bitten by one.

Clearing the environment of grass in general discourages them from coming because there is hardly anything to use for camouflage, as they always like to stay out of sight. Hiking is one of the best things to do when camping, and one of the greatest camping safety tips we have found on hiking through grassy and shrub-covered environments is to use a hiking stick, or a branch to poke ahead of yourself, so that any snake on your way would reveal themselves giving you sufficient time to think on the next line of action.

Another danger people usually encounter while camping is facing bear attacks which actually are a serious potential risk. But it is interesting to note that the deaths which are bear related average 3 per year. This is to say, a bear, though so powerfully dangerous, will not attack unless provoked. Given that some people may not be able to keep their cool when faced with a bear. The best chances are to ensure that it does not come around.

Bears are usually found rummaging around the trash hoping to find something to eat. Keeping the campsite clear of the smell of food, especially raw meat or fish which attracts them to camps most at times will go a long way to ensure that they don’t come around. Food should be kept enclosed in such a way that smells do not easily escape. Perhaps if there is a secure camping store, food can be kept there overnight.

Another way to make sure you do not encounter bears is to avoid places known to have roaming bears. Such places would normally have a sign indicating that it is not advised to camp in such a place. Well, if you missed the signs and find yourself face to face with a hungry and angry bear, here’s what to do: Stand your ground. Unlike is the case with bees, bears are often only bluffing. If you’ll stand your ground, shout back and use anything at your disposal to fight back it is possible that the bear would run away. Carrying around bear pepper spray would also be a good first line of defense as the bear will hardly see if you meet your target.

Following these camping safety tips will ensure your safety from all the above dangers, leaving you to focus on catching some fun and stay safe while camping.

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