Whether you’re planning to spend a fun vacation at a family campground or become one with nature and rough it in the woods, make the best out of your camping adventure by staying safe. Before taking a camping trip, check out these 10 safety tips from the U.S. Forest Service:
1. Pack emergency supplies. A first aid kit and other supplies can prove invaluable if someone suffers an injury or allergic reaction. Pack antiseptics, tweezers, insect repellent, a snake bite kit, pain relievers and sunscreen. You should also have a map, compass, flashlight, knife, waterproof fire starter and whistle.
2. Learn the ABCs of first aid. Know how to perform CPR and basic first aid.Recognizing serious injuries will enable you to attend to a victim until medical help arrives.
3. Prepare for the weather. Check the weather report before you leave home. When you arrive at the campsite, keep an eye on the skies for changes. In inclement weather, take shelter until the bad conditions pass. Always keep clothes, sleeping bags and important gear dry.
4. Inspect the campsite. Arrive at the site early so you have enough daylight to examine the area and set up camp. Look for a level site without potential trouble spots that could flood or become extremely muddy if it rains or snows. A site that has trees or shrubs on the side of prevailing winds will help block strong, unexpected gusts. Check the ground thoroughly for sharp objects, branches and other hazards.
5. Practice tent safety. Make sure your tent is made of a flame-retardant fabric, and set it up at a safe distance away from campfires. Never use flames or any other heating devices inside a tent. To keep insects out of your tent, close the entrance quickly when entering or leaving.
6. Be fire-smart. Ensure you have an area for a fire that cannot spread laterally or vertically–a grill or stone surface is ideal. Never leave fires unattended. When putting a fire out, drown it with water, making sure all embers, coals and sticks are wet.
7. Watch out for bugs. Stinging insects, such as hornets, bees, wasps and yellow jackets, could be a problem when camping. To avoid attracting them, wear light-colored clothing and don’t use perfumes or colognes. Should a stinging insect approach, don’t wave wildly and swat blindly; instead, use a gentle pushing or brushing motion to deter the bug.
8. Know which plants are poisonous. Familiarize yourself with any dangerous plants that are common to the area. If you come into contact with a poisonous plant, immediately rinse the affected area with water and apply a soothing lotion such as calamine.
9. Practice good hygiene. Make sure you wash your hands, particularly after using the toilet and before handling food, to prevent everyone in your group from becoming ill.
10. Beware of wildlife. To ward off bears, keep your campsite clean. Don’t leave food, garbage, coolers or cooking equipment out in the open. Bears are potentially dangerous and unpredictable, so never go near one. Use a flashlight at night, as many animals feed during this time and a flashlight may warn them away when you’re approaching.