Camp Safety Tips

As summer travel and camping season kick into full swing, camp safety should be your number one priority as you venture to explore new campgrounds, now locations across the country, and you take on new activities. Here’s our quick list of hiking and camping safety tips to keep in mind this summer to keep yourself, fellow travelers, and family safe.

1. Never approach wild animals

Bison in a field with forest in background

Courtesy of Camping World

They may look cute and harmless, but wild animals are unpredictable and can be very territorial and protective. Always be alert and aware of your surroundings. In most cases, the animals are more afraid of you and will run away, but that’s not always the case, especially if they have had previous interactions with humans. Do not attempt to feed wild animals. Most injuries occur when people try to feed them. Keep your food safely stored away or hang it from a tree. Do not keep food in your tent.

Look out for snakes, spiders, and other critters around your campsite. Watch where you are walking, be careful when picking up sticks or rocks, and look around before taking a seat. Again, snakes are usually more afraid of us, but if they feel threatened or if you make sudden movements they may strike. Stay calm and slowly move away from them.

Other insects such as bees, ants, ticks, mosquitoes, flies etc. should not be taken lightly. Not only can they be annoying but they can cause quite a bit of pain and discomfort. Many people have severe allergic reactions to their bites and need to carry necessary medical supplies or seek medical attention. Again, be aware of your surroundings.

2. Protect yourself from the elements

Wear sunscreen and sunglasses. You can get sunburn in a very short period of time even on overcast days. Protect your eyes from the strong ultraviolet rays of the sun and reduce glare from off the water. Sunburn can ruin any vacation, and prolonged exposure carries more significant risks.

But remember to be prepared for all types of weather and temperatures to practice effective camp safety. Many of the hottest summer locations can drop in temperature significantly overnight. Pay attention to weather conditions, as they can change very quickly. Be prepared and act in anticipation of severe weather. In the winter, watch out for extended exposure to cold temperatures.

Prepare for all sorts of weather, clothing-wise, and wear the proper attire when hiking and participating in outdoor activities. Lightweight long sleeves and pants might be a better option in especially shadeless areas or if the area you are hiking through is prone to ticks, poison ivy, and the like.

3. Hitting the trails safely

Never hike alone — always go with a friend. Tell someone else of your plans, and always take plenty of water, snacks, matches, and a flashlight. Don’t forget your compass and trail maps, too. Although the point of the hike may be to escape the rigors of everyday life, bring your cellphone (turn it off, it you prefer). Better to have and not need …

Be prepared with a water-purification system should you need to use a natural water resource.

4. Practice camp safety: watch out for your group

Supervise your children. Instruct them to stay within your sight and don’t allow them to wander off. It’s a good idea to give them each a whistle to wear around their neck to be used only in an emergency. Agree on a location to meet. Consider ID bracelets. Keep a picture of your children with you in case they get lost as an added precaution.

In general, be careful around water, especially when you are with a larger group. Watch your children closely, and also remember that many people in your group may not know how to swim.

5. Cooking and keeping food safely

Cooking is one of the most important activities to monitor for camp safety. Be very careful with gas canisters. Keep them upright at all times, and keep them outside in a well-ventilated area. Check for leakage by putting soap liquid on all connections. Turn off when not in use. Never install or remove LP-gas cylinders while the stove is lit, near flames, pilot lights, or other ignition sources or while the stove is hot to the touch.

Do not operate stove or store fuel containers around another heat source such as a campfire. Only operate the stove in open, well-ventilated areas. Never use the stove in a tent or a confined area.

Replenish your ice often. Keep your food cold at all times to avoid food spoilage and food poisoning.

Practice good fire safety. Clear area of all debris/avoid areas with overhanging branches. Construct a fire ring surrounded by rocks. Have a bucket of water, shovel and a fire extinguisher nearby and ready to put out a fire. NEVER build a fire near tents or other flammable items. NEVER use flammable fluids to start a fire. NEVER leave a fire unattended. Build a fire only as big as you need. Make sure to completely extinguish fire.

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