Camping Safety

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Camping Safety Tips

Camping Safety

© 2014 DeerSpace LLC

Camping is a fun way to get family and friends together to enjoy the outdoors. Follow these tips and use the packing checklist to help ensure your camping trip is safe and healthy.

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Fire Safety Tips for Camping:
  • Do not cooking or use open flames inside your tent. Many items in your test are combustible or flammable: the tent itself, sleeping bags, etc
  • Use battery operated flashlights and lamps in your tent instead of gas powered lanterns
  • Keep your campfire well away from your tent, 25 feet if possible but no less than 10 feet. 
  • If weather conditions are especially dry and you don't really need a fire for cooking, don't build one. A small spark is all it takes to ignite dry grass and leaves. Be sure to pay close attention to forest conditions and warnings from the park service.
  • Never use gasoline to light a fire. A fire should be lit using kindling or a lighter stick. 
  • Keep a pail of sand or water nearby in the event it is needed to control the fire or extinguish it. 
  • Always keep a careful eye on fires. Make sure children don't play near them.
  • Before you go to sleep at night or if you leave the campsite for a while, be sure to put out the fire. Many forest fires are started each year from unattended campfires or those that were not completely extinguished. 
  • Douse the fire with water and break up the coals, add more water and stir it with a stick until it is cold to the touch. Make sure the fire is completely out before bedding down or leaving the campsite.
  • If you're using a gas or liquid fuel camp stove or lantern, follow the manufacturer's directions. Make sure all connections are tight to avoid leaks. 
  • Do not refuel a hot or operating stove or lantern. Wait until it cools off. Use a funnel to fill the appliances and wipe up all fuel spills before attempting to light it again.
RV and Camper Safety Tips:
  • When traveling with a camper trailer or recreational vehicle, use only electrically-operated or battery-operated lights inside. 
  • Maintain all appliances in a safe working condition and check them before use. 
  • Keep a fire extinguisher on board, preferably a multi-purpose one.
  • Ensure you have a smoke and carbon monoxide alarms inside the vehicle and that they are working properly before each trip
  • When the vehicle is traveling down the road, shut down gas to stoves and water heaters by closing the fuel supply at the gas bottle
  • Never operate combustion type or catalytic heaters inside closed campers or recreational vehicle. This could result in asphyxiation from either fumes or oxygen depletion
  • Don't cook while the vehicle is underway. A sudden lurching of the vehicle may result in spilling of cooking grease, causing a fire
  • Always fuel stoves or lanterns outside campers or recreational vehicles.
Prepare safe food:
  • Pack foods in tight, waterproof bags or containers. Keep them in an insulated cooler
  • Wash hands and surfaces often. Use hand sanitizer if water is not available
  • Separate raw foods from cooked foods
  • Cook foods to proper temperatures (for instance, ground beef should be cooked to an internal temperature of at least 160 degrees)
  • Chill foods promptly
  • Planning Meals at Home and On the Go
Include safe physical activities:

Camping is a great way to get physical activity. Do things such as walking, hiking, biking, or swimming to keep you active during your camping trip. Be sure to bring protective gear, such as helmets, sturdy shoes, and life jackets. Avoid poisonous plants, like poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac. Know your limits, and take steps to avoid injury during activities. Never hike or swim alone. Watch kids closely. Adults should get at least 2½ hours a week and kids should get at least 1 hour a day of physical activity. 

Protect against carbon monoxide poisoning:
Carbon monoxide is odorless and colorless and can cause illness or death in people and pets. Never use fuel-burning equipment such as gas stoves, heaters, lanterns, and charcoal grills inside a tent, camper, or other enclosed shelter. It can cause dangerous levels of carbon monoxide to build up.As alternative heat sources to fuel-burning appliances inside an enclosed shelter, campers should bring adequate bedding and clothing and should consume extra calories and fluids during the outing to prevent hypothermia (a dangerous loss of body warmth that can cause death).

Avoid wild animals, and protect family pets:

Some wild animals carry diseases that are dangerous to people, including rabies, hantavirus,Giardia infection, and more. Avoid touching, feeding, and getting near wild animals. Enjoy watching them from a safe distance in their natural surroundings. Keep foods stored in sealed containers and out of the reach of animals. Make sure your family pets are vaccinated and always keep a close eye on their whereabouts. Check for ticks, and remove them promptly. Make sure pets have plenty of water, food, and shelter.

Fight the bug bite:
Mosquitoes, ticks, and other insects can cause certain diseases. For example, mosquitoes can cause West Nile Virus, and ticks can cause Lyme disease. To help fight the bite, apply insect repellent containing DEET to exposed skin. Repellents containing 20% or more DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide) can protect up to several hours. Apply the insect repellent permethrin to clothes to help keep ticks from attaching to them. Be sure to follow directions on the package. Check for ticks daily, and remove them promptly. Wear long sleeves, pants, and other light-colored clothing to help prevent and spot ticks more easily.

Prevent temperature-related illness:
To help prevent hypothermia during cool nights, bring adequate bedding and clothing to stay warm. Use a plastic ground cloth under your tent to help keep you dry. To help prevent heat-related illness during hot days, drink plenty of alcohol-free and sugar-free fluids. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink. Wear layers of light-weight, light-colored, and loose-fitting clothing. Rest often in shady areas. Protect yourself from too much sun.

Protect yourself from the sun:

Protection from ultraviolet (UV) radiation is important all year round. UV rays from the sun can reach you on cloudy and hazy days, as well as bright and sunny days. Use a broad-spectrum (against UVA and UVB rays) sunscreen and lip screen with at least SPF 15. Seek shade, especially during midday hours, when the sun’s rays are strongest. Cover up with clothing, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses.

Avoid water-related illness and injury:
Camping often includes playing in and around the water. To help protect yourself and your fellow campers from illness, don’t swim if you have diarrhea, and don’t swallow the water you swim in. Take a shower before and after swimming. Never swim alone. If you plan to ride in a boat, canoe, or other water vehicle, be sure to wear a life jacket. Avoid alcohol.

Be prepared:
Always prepare for the unexpected. Before you leave, check the weather report, learn about security at your camp location, and tell family and friends your plans. Know what to do when toilets are not available. Be sure to bring along a supply kit that includes a first-aid kit, compass or GPS, map, flashlight, blankets, batteries, food, water, clothes, and medications. Know who to contact at the camp to report issues that may come up. When you return home, check for ticks, skin rashes or sunburn, dehydration, and other problems.
Vaccinations can help protect against certain diseases and conditions while camping. Check with your doctor or nurse to see if you've had all of the recommended vaccines. He or she may recommend tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), meningitis, and/or hepatitis A, depending on your medical history, destination, and other factors.

(Information provided in part courtesy of the Center for Disease Control
and the City of Phoenix (AZ) Fire Department© 2013)