Camping Safety Tips that Ensure You Make the Most of Your Outdoor Vacation

By: Jamie Strand (forceps@scicamps.org), 2017

Before leaving for your trip, it’s important to become knowledgeable about camping safety tips. Be aware of everything from how to prevent forest fires to how to hike safely to what safety items to include when packing. While you hope emergencies won’t arise, it’s better to be prepared in the rare event that they do. Also, as the U.S. Forest Service states, “The most effective way to prevent mishaps is to adequately prepare for the trip.” Another key piece of pre-travel preparation is to ensure your home is safe and secure while you are away. Only let family members and friends know you are away, and have one of them check up on your home daily.

 

When packing for a camping or hiking trip, you should also include a compass, map, first aid kit, flashlight, batteries, a signaling device (pocket mirror, foil, etc.), pocket knife, rope, hat, sunglasses, waterproof matches, whistle, plenty of food, water container, and water purification tablets. Other important items to include are candles, a radio, something for warmth and shelter, and appropriate clothing.

 

A good first aid kit should have antiseptics, tweezers, insect repellent, bug spray, a snakebite kit, pain relievers, and sunscreen. You should learn the ABCs of treating emergencies and be able to recognize serious injuries (such as burns, ankle injuries, and wounds) so that you can tend to a victim until medical help arrives.

 

Check the weather report before leaving, and keep an eye on the skies, as sudden changes can occur. Always pack clothing for cooler temperatures and rain, regardless of the weather forecast. If inclement weather hits, find shelter and stay put until the worse passes. Try to stay dry, as wet clothing can result in a decrease in body temperature. Ensure sleeping bags and important gear remain dry at all times.

 

Arrive to the campsite early so that you have plenty of daylight to set up camp and check over the entire campground. Around your personal campsite, thoroughly check for glass, sharp objects, branches, large ant beds, poison plants, stinging insects, and hazardous terrain. Check the contour of the land and look for potential trouble due to rain so that you don’t set up camp in an area that could become extremely muddy or flooded. Choose a level site with enough space for your gear, as well as trees or shrubs on the side to block strong or unexpected gusts of wind.

 

When building a campfire, ensure it’s in a safe area and be sure that the fire cannot spread laterally or vertically. Use a grill or stone surface whenever possible, and never leave a fire unattended. Open fires and fuel-burning appliances should be placed well away from tents. When putting a fire out, drown it with water and stir it to ensure that embers, coals, and sticks that are buried deep within the pile can’t reignite later.

 

For those who want to lace up their boots and hit the trail, it’s helpful to be aware of some hiking tips as well. First, plan your route before you leave. Knowing the terrain and important mile markers is crucial. Also, be aware of your fitness level and don’t attempt a hike that’s recommended for higher levels of fitness. Having the proper footwear, clothing, and backpack is vital. Lastly, be sure to stay well hydrated, energized, and safe. Don’t hike alone, turn back if the weather makes a turn for the worse, and always carry a first aid kit.

 

If you’re ready for an outdoor vacation with rushing waterfalls, winding trails, and looming mountains lined with towering trees, look no further than one of America’s beautiful national parks. No matter which park you visit, you’ll find breathtaking landscapes and enjoyable activities to suit any interests. Having knowledge of the area, weather, terrain, and camping safety helps to ensure you have a safe and enjoyable trip.

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