Down time, What you can do during the Winter!

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November 17, 2008

I hear a lot of you whining like little kids before Christmas that there isn’t anything “camping” to do during the winter. Well, maybe you can’t go out and be at the campground, but there are still tons of things you can do during the winter to make you a better prepared and safer camper for next year. Think of it this way, this is the time to relax in a different way from the summer camping trips. Being as I am sort of the Health and Safety guy on here, I have some suggestions for you.

First off, for Christmas whine (in a constructive way) a little bit to friends and family about getting you some books on camping, first aid, birding, canoeing, or anything that you have always wanted to do or learn about. Learning about something you have always wanted to know about is a great way to pass some long winter days. There are hundreds of places to look for books; you can start here on line with, Barnes and, , and many others! There are even services where you can buy and trade books online like Swaptree or you can look at the used books on E-Bay. You can even do like my kids and print out the pages and just casually leave then laying around where the person who buys your gifts can find them! That might not even count as whining, so you can do it with a clearer conscious!

Then, I want to suggest that you call around and find a class to take. Now, me being who I am, I would suggest a class on CPR or basic first aid or First Responder or Emergency Medical Technician. Try your local American Red Cross, your local hospital (ask for the Education Department) or Ambulance service. I am sure that one of these should be able to steer you in the direction of some classes. Most of them are inexpensive (some of them are even free!). Basic CPR is good and is often free as a community outreach service, but I would recommend the Health Care Provider CPR. Health Care Provider CPR will teach you how to do CPR on Adults, Children and Infants as well as covering what to do when anyone is choking. Best of all, it is a one day Class or at most two nights!

Basic First Aid, usually put on by the American Red Cross, is usually one night a week class that lasts about 2 months. This is what I would recommend for the average person. It will cover most of the emergency situations you will come across while camping, such as bleeding, broken bones, environmental emergencies, burns and other common accidents related to the outdoor life style.

First Responder is a recognized emergency care level. In some states, you can run on ambulances and provide care to patients as part of the health care system. This class is usually one day or two nights a week and the curriculum covers everything the basic first aid course does and in greater depth as well as more in patient packaging and treatment of traumatic injuries. However, the class is over a hundred hours long, and you will have to pay for it, in most areas. If you are interested enough to take the First responder course, I would suggest that you take the Emergency Medical Technician class instead.

Emergency Medical Technician (or EMT) is the recognized level of certification required in all states to provide care on Ambulances and rescue vehicles. The class is usually two nights a week and is 120 to 150 hours long. You will come out of this class prepared to provide the “First aid” for almost any event you will be involved in while camping. Please don’t be afraid that you are too young (age limit is usually 16) or too old, as the oldest EMT student I have seen was in his late 60’s and I have heard of older! There is a fee for the class, usually $200 to $500 for the course, but think of it as an investment in the lives of your family and friends. As they say, being prepared for emergencies…. PRICELESS!

Or if your talents or desires lead you in other directions maybe you could find the local Vo-Tech School and take classes in diesel mechanics, Electrical wiring, or welding. I don’t think they have courses in how to modify RV’s right now, but these will help you learn some of the basic skills that are often needed.

Just don’t sit there and do nothing all winter. Take the time to learn something new, either on your own or as part of a regular class. Better than just doing nothing, LOL! Or, if you have enough on your plate for this winter, you may want to check these ideas out for your spouse or friends; I am sure some of them would be interested in these ideas!

Your Obedient Servant,

Gary Smith, Jr.

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