8 Ways to Stay Safe While Camping
The Independence Day holiday is a popular time for families to enjoy the great outdoors while camping. While nature can be a beautiful place to vacation, it’s important to understand the potential risks and take steps to stay safe.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend the following safety precautions to keep your holiday from resulting in a trip to the hospital:
- Get vaccinated. Camping exposes your family to many potential hazards that vaccinations can help protect against. Make sure your vaccinations are current, and ask your doctor or nurse what he or she recommends.
- Prepare healthy and safe food. To keep your food safe, pack items in tight, waterproof bags or containers and keep them in an insulated cooler. Frequently wash hands and surfaces or use an anti-bacterial hand sanitizer if water isn’t available. Separate raw foods from cooked foods. Cook foods to proper temperatures and chill food promptly after meals.
- Practice fire safety. Make sure your campfire site is away from overhanging tree branches. Encircle the fire with a metal fire ring or rocks. Keep a bucket of water and shovel nearby. Never leave the fire unattended and be sure to completely put out your fire before you leave. Use fireproof cooking equipment.
- Enjoy physical activities safely. Camping is a great opportunity to enjoy walking, hiking, biking, or swimming. Be sure to bring protective gear, such as helmets, sturdy shoes and life jackets. Avoid poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac. Know your limits, and take steps to avoid injury during activities. Never hike or swim alone. Watch kids closely.
- Fight the bug bite. Mosquitoes, ticks and other insects can cause diseases. Apply insect repellent containing DEET to clothes and exposed skin. Apply the insect repellent permethrin to clothes to help keep ticks from attaching to them. Be sure to follow directions on the package. Check for ticks daily, and remove them promptly. Wear long sleeves, pants and other light-colored clothing to help prevent and spot ticks more easily.
- Protect yourself from the sun. Even on cloudy days, ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun can cause skin cancer, premature aging, and cataracts. Use a broad-spectrum (against UVA and UVB rays) sunscreen and lipscreen with at least SPF 15. Seek shade, when the sun’s rays are strongest. Cover up with clothing, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses.
- Avoid water-related illness and injury. Camping often includes playing in and around the water. To help protect yourself and your fellow campers from illness, don’t swim if you have diarrhea, and don’t swallow the water you swim in. Take a shower before and after swimming. Never swim alone. If you plan to ride in a boat, canoe or other water vehicle, be sure to wear a life jacket. Avoid alcohol.
- Be prepared. Always be prepared for the unexpected. Before you leave, check the weather report, learn about security at your camp location and tell family and friends what your plans are. Know what to do when toilets are not available. Be sure to bring along a supply kit that includes a first aid kit, compass or GPS, map, flashlight, blankets, and batteries, food, clothes and medications. Know who to contact at the camp to report issues that may come up. When you return home, check for ticks, poison ivy, diarrhea and other problems.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Camping Health and Safety Tips and Packing Checklist.” Retrieved June 17, 2011, from http://www.cdc.gov/family/camping/.