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Tuesday, 18 July 2017



Camping Safety for Beginners
By our first outside writer  Michael Bourke
 Camping is a family-friendly activity that not only puts you in close proximity to those you love, but helps you commune with nature as well. As with all things, however, there are safety considerations that must be addressed before you pack your bags. Follow these tips to keep yourself safe while enjoying the great outdoors.

Watch what you eat. According to the Centers for Disease Control, eating contaminated food or drinking contaminated water greatly increases your risk of developing germ-related infectious diseases. Keep your food and water safe by using an insulated cooler and keeping cooked and raw food separate. Chill foods properly and ensure that meats are cooked to their proper internal temperature. You can read more about food handling safety in this guide provided by the USDA.

Be cautious against carbon monoxide. An odorless, colorless gas, carbon monoxide is an invisible killer. Avoid using fuel-burning equipment, such as grills, stoves, and heaters, inside a camper, tent, or other enclosed shelter. This may allow carbon monoxide levels to skyrocket, putting everyone in danger. If you’re camping in the winter, bring extra bedding and layerable clothing to keep warm.

Alleviate animal animosity. You’re sleeping outside; there are going to be other creatures in the area. Avoid the temptation to get to up close and personal. Wild animals carry diseases that can be dangerous to humans, especially young children. As well, guard your pets as domesticated animals are an easy target for wolves, bears, and other wildlife. Make sure your pets have plenty of food, water, and safe shelter, and remove ticks promptly to reduce the possibility of disease transmission. If you are traveling with horses, try to book a campsite that offers access to water and a safe place to tie off your equine companion for the evening.

Hike happy. No camping trip is complete without some fun and exploitative outdoor activities, such as hiking. The Georgia State Parks website recommends employing the buddy system and staying together with your group. Always tell people where you’re going and stay on marked trails. Keep an eye out for wet rocks as major head injuries can occur from even minor falls. Carry an emergency kit that includes water; medical supplies; a flashlight and batteries; high-protein, shelf-stable foods, such as nuts; and a trash bag or brightly colored rain poncho. If you’re planning to tackle a trek with children, tie a whistle to their clothing and teach them to stay put should they get out of your site.

Humans and wildfires

Although fires can be caused by nature, around 90% of wildland fires in the U.S. are directly related to human activities; in fact, the Fire and Aviation Management division of the National Park Service lists unattended campfires as one of the top causes of wildfires. In 2016, an abandoned campfire decimated a 67 square-mile area of Monterrey County, California. It destroyed more than four dozen homes and killed at least one person. And it isn’t just forest fires that cause damage. Desert blazes are becoming more common due to the invasion of alien grasses, which threaten the existence of natural desert ecosystems on top of acting as fuel for flames.

Before planning your campfire, check for rules and regulations. Don’t build your campfire in an area of extreme drought and keep your fire pit at least 15 feet from tent walls, more if it’s windy or dry. Never allow children under the age of 16 to start or monitor a campfire and only use approved materials in your fire. Keep an eye on your fire until the wood is burned completely to ash and douse it with water until any hissing sounds cease. A good rule of thumb is that if the embers are too hot to touch, the fire is too hot to leave.

Whether you’re a tenured camper or a newbie, it’s always best to play it extra safe while you’re enjoying the great outdoors. Keep these tips in mind to have a safe and memorable adventure!

Author: Michael Bourke