As summer sets in and family trips are filling the calendar it’s important to talk about safety. Whether you’re taking a quick camping trip at the lake or roughing it for a week out west, it’s vital to recognize the dangers and necessary safety precautions.
Research & Plan
Careful planning can help you avoid many dangers when camping. Research the area you will be travelling and learn about possible risks. It’s important to understand the weather conditions you will be staying in, as well as wildlife patterns and surrounding terrain.
A large part of the planning process includes knowing your limits. It could be dangerous to plan a 15-mile hike if you’re used to only hiking a few miles in a day. Don’t be afraid to go out of your comfort zone but be aware of your physical abilities.
After arriving at your destination seek advice and heed warnings from Park Rangers and other locals.
Pack & Prepare
This goes hand in hand with planning your trip. Each camping trip requires different equipment depending on the climate, activities, and duration but there are a few essentials to any trip.
- Sun and insect protection – Don’t stop at sunscreen, pack a hat and sunglasses as well as bug repellent.
- Extra layers of clothing – weather can change in seconds and temperatures in different climates can feel much different than you expected.
- Tools such as knives, utensils and duct tape may come in handy on your trip
- Fire starter, matches or lighter
- Always bring more food and water than you think you will need
Simply packing your gear doesn’t guarantee it will work. Test out equipment such as your camp stove, flashlight and compass before leaving to be sure they’re functioning properly. Try on your backpack, hiking boots, and life jackets to make sure everything fits correctly.
Set up a Safe Camp
- Follow appropriate guidelines for distances between food and sleeping spaces.
- Don’t build your fire too close to your tent – properly extinguish the fire before leaving camp.
- Remove any trip or fall hazards around your site, especially near the cooking area.
- Keep your campsite clean to avoid contact with wildlife.
Hope for the Best, Plan for the Worst
This should go without saying but, be sure that someone not on the trip knows where you will be each day. Leave an itinerary with your emergency contact that includes vital information if something unfortunate were to happen.
- Names and contact information for each person in your group
- The details of your route and planned activities, including:
- start time and location
- estimated end time and location
- A description of your vehicle or boat
- If you will be in a state or national park include the park’s phone number
Everyone assumes that their trip will go perfectly but that’s not always the case.
Follow these tips to avoid getting lost or injured:
- Stay together and follow the buddy system
- Stay on the trial and do not take “short cuts”
- Carry a first aid kit
- Each person should have a whistle in case they are separated from the group
- Know the limits of each person in your group
If someone in your group is lost, call 911. Tell the operator when and where your group member was last seen, as well as what they were wearing and any medical conditions they may have.
If someone is injured, start by assessing the injury. If they just have minor cuts or scrapes use your first aid kit to treat the wound and avoid infection. If the injury is more severe, call 911 to give them your current location, type of injury, and any medical conditions the injured person has.
Above all, be aware. You must be aware to truly enjoy the great outdoors, but you also must stay aware in order to have a safe trip.