While camping is fun, it is also important to stay safe! Here are some helpful tips from the Centers for Disease Control & Smokey the Bear for safety during your camping trip. Safe campers are happy campers!
Prepare your food safely
- Pack food in tight waterproof bags/containers
- Keep food in insulated cooler
- Keep raw food separate from cooked food
- Wash your hands and prep areas often
- Cook food to proper temperature
- Chill food promptly when you are finished with your meal
- Bring plenty of clean drinking water to use for both drinking and cooking
Plan Safe Physical Activity
- Bring protective gear: sturdy shoes, life jackets, helmets, etc… based on the activities you have planned
- Be able to recognize and avoid poisonous plants, such as, poison ivy and poison oak
- Avoid injury by wearing protective gear and paying close attention during activity and knowing your physical limits
- Never engage in a physical activity alone. Always have a buddy.
- When swimming, do not swallow water
- Always shower/bathe immediately following the activity you had planned
Avoid Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
- Never use fuel burning equipment, i.e. gas stoves, heaters, lanterns, or charcoal grills, inside of a tent, camper or other enclosed space. This can raise the carbon monoxide levels.
- Bring extra bedding, clothing, and food as an alternative to keep warm inside of your tent or camper without fuel burning equipment.
Avoiding Wild Animals
- Some wild animals can carry diseases that can be harmful to you and/or household pets
- Do not feed, get near or touch wild animals
- Keep your food stored in sealed containers and out of reach of animals
- If you plan on bringing household pets on your trip, make sure they are vaccinated
- Always check your family pets for ticks before, during and after your camping trip
- Make sure your family pets have adequate food, water, and shelter that is kept from wild animals
- Always use insect repellent containing DEET when camping
- Wear light colored, long sleeves and pants so you are able to easily spot bugs, like ticks
- Check for ticks daily
- Always wear sunscreen and lipscreen
- Take rests in the shade, especially when it is hot
- Wear hats and sunglasses along with your light colored, long sleeves and pants
Preventing Temperature Related Illness
- Pack an adequate amount of bedding and clothing
- Drink alcohol free and sugar free beverages to stay hydrated
- Rest often, cool off/warm up when you need to
In addition to these safety preparations, make sure you know the campsite contacts in case of emergencies. Bring essentials like GPS, flashlights and first aid kits to remain prepared. Let others know your camping plans so they know where to find you in case of an emergency. Last but not least, keep an eye on weather reports so you can plan accordingly.
Once you are safely prepared for your camping trip and arrive at your destination, it is best to become familiar with the area so you can practice Forest Fire Prevention. Another important and safe part of camping!
- Do not build a campfire if the campgrounds prohibit it
- Do not build a campfire during hazardous, dry conditions
- Find out if the campground has an existing fire ring/pit
- If you must build your own, make sure it is 15 feet from tents, shrubs, and other flammable items
- Choose an open, level location away from heavy fuels: logs, brush, leaves, etc…
- Take the wind’s direction into account when picking a spot. Try to choose one that will be clear from gusts of wind.
- Clear leaves, twigs, etc… within a 10 foot diameter of the site.
- Dig a pit about one foot deep
- Surround the pit with rocks
- You will need a source of water, a bucket, and a shovel nearby at all times
- Gather tinder(twigs and dry leaves) and kindling (sticks smaller than one inch around), we’ve got you on the fuel (firewood logs)!
- Put a couple of handfuls of tinder in the middle of the pit
- If you want to cook, it is best to set kindling up like a teepee
- If you want long lasting campfire, it is best to cross your kindling and lay it log cabin style around the tinder
- Light the tinder with a match or lighter. Note: if using a match, wait for it to cool before you toss it into the fire.
- Add more tinder as the fire grows and blow lightly at the base of the fire
- Add fuel and more kindling to the fire
- If needed, add more fuel to the fire to keep it steadily burning
- Keep the fire small so it is manageable
- Never leave a campfire unattended
- Never add aerosol cans, glass, pressurized containers or aluminum cans to the fire
- Always supervise children and pets near the fire
- Pour a lot of water on top of the fire
- Drown all of the embers, not just the red ones
- Keep pouring water until the hissing sound stops
- If you do not have water, use a shovel to stir dirt and/or sand into the embers
- Use your shovel to scrape the remaining sticks and logs to remove any embers
- Make sure there are zero embers still exposed and smoldering
- Continue to add water, dirt or sand and stirring with a shovel until all material is cool
- If it is too hot to touch, it is too hot to leave
Remember, it is your responsibility to pack out anything you packed in, including trash.
If you follow all of these safety precautions, you not only will have a safe trip, but a fun one as well!