11 Tips for Safe and Healthy Camping

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When warm weather arrives, nature lovers prefer to pack up their sleeping bags, campfire equipment and tents to go sleep under the moon and the stars.

It’s estimated that about 14 percent of Americans above the age of 6 took camping trips in 2013. While many of us are clearly drawn by connecting with nature, camping comes with several inherent risks that aren’t usual issues in the suburbs and cities.

Unruly animals or insects, sudden thunderstorms and health hazards such as altitude sickness and dehydration can all seriously mar what should be a wonderful outdoor experience. Fortunately, there are various ways to reduce the risks associated with camping ruining your next trip. To ensure an unforgettable time with nature while staying safe, follow this guide—perfect for any outdoor camping venue.

Get vaccinated

Vaccinations may help protect against some conditions and diseases while camping. See your nurse or doctor to know whether you’ve had all the required vaccines. They may recommend vaccines for tetanus, whooping cough, hepatitis A, and /or meningitis, based on your destination, medical history, as well as other factors.

Be prepared

Always read the weather report prior to your departure, and if there’s a storm coming, stay home. Ensure that others not coming with you are aware of where you are and know how to get to you in case there’s an emergency. Know what to do in case there are no toilets.

Prepare safe water and food

Bring healthy, safe foods and clean water along on your trip. Consuming contaminated food and water can increase your risk of getting certain infectious illnesses caused by germs.

Follow these tips to keep your water and food safe

Pack foods in waterproof, tight containers or bags. Store them in an insulated freezer.

Separate cooked foods from raw foods

Wash surfaces and hands regularly. If water isn’t available, use a hand sanitizer.

Cook foods to the right temperatures (for example, you should cook your ground beef to at least 160 degrees of internal temperature).

Chill foods immediately.

Stay hydrated

Running around all day in the heat is a good way to be active, but it raises your risk of being dehydrated. Always have a water bottle at hand, and make sure to get your daily recommended amount—eight glasses.

Protect family pets and stay away from wild animals

Certain wild animals have diseases that are hazardous to humans. Avoid getting close to wild animals, touching, or feeding them. Just enjoy watching them in their natural habitat and from a good, safe distance. Keep your foods sealed and away from animals. Make sure to vaccinate your family pets and always closely monitor them. Keep an eye on ticks, and get rid of them promptly. Ensure that pets have more than enough food, water, and shelter.

Maintain safe fire practices

Camping just isn’t complete without a fire. However, you have to take certain vital precautions before making your fires. For instance, don’t start your fire under low branches, never leave it unattended, and put out the flame completely before bedtime.

Carry supply kit

Carry a supply kit with water, food, a map, compass or GPS, first aid kit, blanket, clothing, flashlight with extra batteries, and medication. Know who to get in touch with at the camp in case of any emergency. When you get back home, check for skin rashes, ticks, dehydration, sunburn, and other issues.

Try safe physical activities

Camping is an amazing way to indulge in physical activity. Be sure to use this for your benefit. Try activities like walking, biking, swimming, or hiking to keep fit during your camping. Make sure to carry protective gear, like life jackets, helmets, and sturdy shoes. Stay away from poisonous plants, such as poison ivy, poison sumac, and poison oak. Understand your limits and stay safe during activities. Do not swim or hike alone. Watch children closely. Children should have at least one hour of physical activity a day while adults should have at least two and a half hours a week.

Protect against the sun

Protecting yourself from UV (ultraviolet) radiation is vital throughout the year. The sun’s UV rays may reach you on hazy and cloudy days and, of course, sunny and bright days. Use a wide-spectrum sunscreen (against UVA & UVB rays) and lip screen with a minimum of SPF 15. Find shade, especially at midday hours, as the rays of the sun are strongest at this time. Cover up with clothes, sunglasses, and a wide-brimmed hat.

Protect against bugs

Ticks, mosquitoes, and other insects may cause some diseases. Therefore, apply insect repellents on exposed skin. Make sure to follow instructions on the package. Look out for ticks every day and remove them immediately. Wear pants, long sleeves, and other light-colored clothes to ward off and spot ticks easily.

Protect against cold and heat-related illnesses

To prevent hypothermia during cold nights, bring along adequate clothing and bedding to stay warm. To prevent heat-related illnesses on hot days, take plenty of sugar-free and alcohol-free drinks. Don’t drink only when you’re thirsty. Wear layers of light-colored, lightweight, and loose-fitting clothes.