Camping and Woods Safety for the Whole Family

Camping and Woods Safety for the Whole Family bb3 Jul 30, 2013

By Staff Writer State Farm™ Employee

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There are lots of things you'll want to consider before hitting the trail, whether you're headed out alone or with little ones in tow. Whatever the plan, it's always best to be informed and safe.

Before You Head Into the Wild

  • Make a checklist. Tents, bedding, clothes, toiletry items, cooking supplies, food and water, and fishing gear are all things you might need. Love the Outdoors has a comprehensive camping checklist that covers all sorts of situations.
  • Get vaccinated. It can help protect against certain diseases and conditions. Check with your health care provider to see if you and your family's vaccinations are up-to-date.
  • Pack a first aid kit.
    • Antibiotic wipes
    • Medical tape
    • Antiseptic cream
    • Pain relievers
    • Bandages
    • Personal medications
    • Bug spray
    • Scissors
    • Burn ointment
    • Snake bite kit
    • Elastic bandage wrap
    • Sterile gauze
    • Eye wash
    • Sunburn lotion
    • Hydrogen peroxide
    • Sunscreen
    • Insect repellent
    • Tweezers
  • Pack and prepare food safely. Store food in waterproof bags or containers and keep in an insulated cooler. When preparing meals, make sure to wash your hands and cooking surfaces, keep raw and cooked foods separate, and heat foods to proper temperatures. If you need some ideas on what to make, check out 10 classic camping meals.
  • Take plenty of drinking water. Bottled water can be a hassle, but it's much safer than drinking directly from lakes, rivers, or freshwater streams. If you must use water from a natural body of water, make sure it's disinfected first. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has valuable information on safe drinking water.

Getting Back to Nature Safely

  • Protect yourself from the sun. Sunscreen, sunglasses, long-sleeved shirts and pants, and a wide-brimmed hat all help to minimize exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays. Sunburns can happen quickly, even on overcast days.
  • Practice fire safety. Make sure to keep your campfire safe. Build your fire away from overhanging tree branches. Make sure it has a metal fire ring or is encircled with rocks. Keep a bucket of water and shovel nearby. Never leave a campfire unattended and be sure to completely extinguish it before you leave.
  • Protect against carbon monoxide poisoning. Portable gas stoves, heaters, lanterns, charcoal grills, and other gas-burning equipment should never be used inside a tent, camper, or other enclosed shelter.
  • Beware of insects. While bites and stings from some insects can be harmless, others can lead to serious problems. Apply insect repellent regularly and be sure to follow the directions on the package. Learn what to do when stung or bitten.
  • Avoid poisonous plants. Poison oak, poison ivy, and poison sumac are the most common plants that can be dangerous. Familiarize yourself with them and learn what to do in case you come into contact with them. Never eat wild berries, mushrooms, or other plants.
  • Never approach wild animals. They can be very unpredictable, territorial, and protective. Do not attempt to feed them and keep your food safely stored away or suspended from a tree.The National Wildlife Federation has more information on wildlife safety.
  • Practice water safety. Stay out of untreated or contaminated water. Never swim alone. Always wear a life jacket when in a boat or canoe.

Children Need Extra Protection

  • Supervise closely. Make sure they stay within your sight and don't wander off. Give them each a whistle to wear around their neck to use if lost or in an emergency.
  • Provide a flashlight. Children love to play with them, and having one can make them feel safer after dark.
  • Keep them warm. Children get cold faster than adults. Dress them in several layers, which can be peeled off as they get warm and added on as they cool off.
  • Feet should be covered at all times. There are lots of things in the wild that can injure unprotected feet. Hiking boots for long walks, swim socks for the water, and flip-flops for the beach are all great options.

There's no reason why you and your family can't escape the daily routine and head out into the great outdoors for a safe, enjoyable getaway. A little planning, a little preparation, and you'll be sitting around the campfire in no time.

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