Camping is a great way to enjoy the outdoors with friends and loved-ones. However, poor planning or a lack of awareness about camping safety can lead to a less-than-desirable result or even tragic circumstances.
Prepare for a Safe Camping Trip
Protect Against Illness
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that potential campers check with their doctors to make sure they have all of their vaccinations, especially against things like pertussis (commonly known as whooping cough) and hepatitis A. The CDC also recommends using safe food handling practices, drinking plenty of clean water to fight potential heat in the summer, and sunscreen to protect from sun burns.
Pack the Essentials
According to the National Park Service (NPS), essential things to pack when camping include clean water, food, tents or other forms of shelter, bedding, cooking supplies and cleaning supplies. The NPS recommends meal planning to ensure that there is enough food for the trip and that the meals are easy to pack and carry. Also remember to bring personal hygiene products such as soap, toothpaste and hand sanitizer, and emergency items such as a first aid kit. If you intend on swimming during your trip, be sure to pack a life jacket for any inexperienced swimmers.
Undoubtedly, one of the most crucial elements of a safe camping trip is fire safety. The U.S. Forest Service reports that more than 75,000 wildfires are reported annually. Nine out of ten instances are caused by people. To avoid any catastrophic consequences, it is best to use any existing fire pits available at your campsite. Make sure the fire pit is fifteen feet away from tents and low hanging branches, and extinguish the fire completely when it is no longer in use. Avoid building a fire in extremely hot and dry conditions.
Similar guidelines apply to barbecue safety. Make sure not to leave the barbecue unattended, and keep children away from the cooking area. When using a gas grill, make sure to follow safety protocol when handling and replacing canisters. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends safe cooking practices while grilling, including thorough cooking, avoiding cross contamination, and avoiding the reuse of platters or utensils.
Sensible Planning for Hikes
Hiking is a common and enjoyable activity that many people partake in while camping. It is crucial, however, to be safely prepared to ensure an enjoyable experience. The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) recommends that hikers plan ahead and study the area with guidebooks and maps, and to check the weather reports before starting. It is much safer to go with at least one other person and to give word to others not participating where you will be. Make sure to pack all of the necessary items for your hike, including a flashlight, rain gear and a cell phone with forest ranger emergency phone numbers stored in it. The DEC also recommends signing trail registers. If you end up getting lost, stay put until somebody finds you.
Safe Camping And Water
If you choose to camp near a body of water, it is paramount to remember water safety—especially when camping with children or pets. The American Red Cross advises that campers swim with at least one other person and that everyone participating knows how to swim well.
For those who may be inexperienced swimmers, make sure they wear a life jacket. Never leave a young child unattended near the water. According to Redfin, drowning is said to be the sixth leading cause of death in people of various ages and it the second leading cause of unintentional death for children aged one to 14. So be sure to take the proper precautions when swimming with children.
Keep Your Dog Safe
If you are taking your dog to the water, make sure to start them off in shallow water for short durations until they are comfortable swimming. Like small children, never leave your dog unattended in the water. It is also important to remember that not all dogs can swim, so do not force them to. Be sure to rinse your dog off with clean water after playing in a lake or pond.
Enjoy Your Safe Camping Trip!
Hopefully these guidelines will help to guarantee a safe and enjoyable camping experience for your friends and family.
Guest Author: Jamie Strand (SciCamps.org)
Jamie Strand is an unashamed nerd. He teaches community college and loves spending time with his two daughters. He wants to share his love of science and math with kids today and that’s why he and a friend got together to create Scicamps.org.