Pelican Flyer •
January 15, 2021
You’re ready to go camping but you’re afraid it isn’t safe. A weekend getaway or month-long camping adventure can be a wonderful activity for you and the entire family. But you worry about all the things that can go wrong and wonder: Is camping safe?
The answer is yes, camping is absolutely safe. But like anything, you need to be prepared. From ensuring there’s plenty of food and water to go around to understanding the terrain and the environment, here are ways to keep camping safe for everyone. So pack that rooftop cargo carrier tight and hit the road!
When it comes to camping, tents are what come to mind. However, to create a pleasant first-time camping experience, choosing a proper shelter is critical.
Tents are great for some, but not all. If you do choose a tent, make sure it can withstand the elements and select a 3-season tent or 4-season tent, based on the climate and temperature conditions. However, if tents are not for you for whatever reason — age, physical limitations and et cetera — you can also choose a cabin, RV or even a glamping bell tent or yurt with more amenities.
As your trip comes closer, check the weather, ensuring there’s nothing too crazy headed your way. Also check the weather daily. Even if you lack cell service, the camp host often has a bulletin with the local forecast.
Whatever weather is on the horizon, pack accordingly. Also be sure to pack extra clothes like rain gear and base layers, too, just in case. Account for humidity and heat too.
Even on a cloudy day, the sun brings harmful UV rays. So be sure to bring sunscreen with an SPF 15 or higher. and wear protective clothing. Seek shade during the sun’s peak midday hours and always wear a hat and sunglasses.
Leave food out, and it’s bound to attract critters and wildlife — this we know! But you should also protect your food inside a well-sealed, insulated personal cooler to prevent scents from spreading and food preserved. Also, store or buy items that are in waterproof containers, ensuring there are no leaks that could contaminate other foods. You don’t want raw burger meat juices to spread and cause a food-borne illness. In general, separate raw foods from cooked meals and, when handling raw food, wash your hands after.
When assessing provisions such as food and water, make sure to bring along plenty of water. If you are simply setting up at a campground, they will typically have potable water faucets around. While it’s perfectly safe to drink, many still find the water off-putting and prefer their own. And you should always have a three- to five-day supply of bottled water for emergencies.
As a general rule, if you feel thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. So, stay on top of your water, whether you feel parched or not — especially on a hot summer day!
Insects can be a nuisance and are annoying at best. But it’s also important to protect yourself from mosquitoes, ticks, ants and bees. At the minimum, use an insect repellent — preferably a water-resistant one.
Also, check yourself for ticks daily! These Lyme-disease-carrying arachnids are notorious hitchhikers, so check for ticks and take extra steps when hiking, covering your skin as much as possible with long-sleeved shirts and socks tucked into long pants and your head with a hat. Bring some antibiotics to take if you find a tick attached for longer than 36 hours or as per your doctor’s orders — some say 12 hours. The nymphs are hard to see and hide where you’d least expect.
Speaking of critters, be mindful of local wildlife. Leave No Trace’s Principle 6 asks you to respect wildlife, and this is done so in many different ways. For starters, it means limiting human interaction — i.e., no touching or feeding.
Keep food, sunscreen and other scented items in the car or in a bear-safe container. Rare in campgrounds, bears are probably the worst-case scenario. But as long as you understand how to avoid such encounters and how to use bear spray in dire emergencies, there’s almost nothing to worry about!
It’s important for you and everyone else to practice basic campfire safety. For starters, always keep fires contained in a fire pit or designated area. Fires should also be relatively small — don’t let it get too out of hand!
Also, make sure to position tents at least 15 feet away from the fire pit. If you are creating your own firepit, position it 15 feet away from flammable objects like tree limbs and shrubs. Never leave fires unattended. When you’re ready to call it a night, put out the fire before heading into the tent. Leave no ember red!
Fires can provide lots of ambient light at night, but, once you walk away, your eyes struggle to adjust. Make sure everyone has their own headlamp to make their way to the bathroom and to use in the tent at night.
Last, make sure someone with you understands basic first aid or learn it yourself. Take a class and carry a first-aid kit. Accidents can happen, but, as long as you remain calm and know how to address the situation, you’ll save the day!
Also, make sure to be aware of everyone’s allergies and carry EpiPens and specific medications as needed. Poison ivy is one thing, but asthma, bee stings, nuts and other unexpected allergies can arise. A handy first-aid kit can prevent dizziness and reduce swelling.
Camping is entirely safe, so long as you are mindful of your surroundings and keep your head on right. And, once you get the hang of camping, it also becomes less stressful and more enjoyable. Eventually, you stop worrying over the little things, because you know how to handle common safety-related camping situations. So, hang in there and practice your camping skills. It gets easier!
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