When we think of travel and adventure, we tend to automatically think of flights to overseas destinations, dipping in the pool, and relaxing on the beach. However, this is not the only vacation option available to you. There are plenty of alternative trips that you can consider. For example, camping is becoming an increasingly popular type of vacation because of its low cost, being easily incorporated into a weekend (rather than requiring time off work), and allowing us to immerse ourselves in nature. However, if you are planning a camping trip, it’s extremely important that you prioritize your health and safety. When you are spending time outdoors in relatively untraversed territory, all sorts of problems can arise, and it’s important that you are fully prepared for them. Here are just a few steps that you can take to ensure a memorable and safe camping trip!
Take a First Aid Kit
Anyone who is going camping should take a first aid kit along with them. (This is kind of a no-brainer but it can also be easily forgotten!) This is a fundamental step towards guaranteeing your well-being and safety. If you experience even a minor cut or wound, it is important that it is cleaned immediately and effectively. A first aid kit will contain antiseptic wipes, antiseptic cream, and bandages that can adequately protect a cut, graze, or scrape. It will also contain an eye bath should you get something in your eye, and usually contains tweezers to pull splinters out of the skin. Good first aid kits will also have gloves, burn and sting treatments, instant cold packs, pain medication, antacids, tape, scissors, as well as a booklet or guide to help those without any knowledge of first aid. Being certified in first aid would also be a big plus, but if nothing else, be sure to pack the kit! Here is a first aid kit on Amazon that I like: “Be Smart Get Prepared 250 Piece First Aid Kit, Exceeds OSHA ANSI Standards for 50 People – Office, Home, Car, School, Emergency, Survival, Camping, Hunting, and Sports”
Have Some General Survival Knowledge
If you’re visiting our national or state parks and not venturing out into the wilderness, chances are that you’ll never be far from people, a path, or help. However, even if you’re not heading out into truly wild terrain, a little survival knowledge can always come in handy for a safe camping trip. Whether you take a class, read a book, or browse survival websites like Prepared Bee, you should know the basics like:
- Never hike during bad weather or above the treeline during a storm
- Stay out of the hot sun during the heat of the day
- Don’t try to hike paths that are too difficult or challenging for you or the people in your group
- Don’t ever approach wildlife
- Know how to start a fire
- Know how to find water and purify it
- Know what to do in case you get lost and know how to signal for help
- Be properly outfitted for camping and hiking with moisture-wicking clothing, breathable socks, shoes with good support and a sturdy sole, as well as a proper hat. Be sure you have enough clothing to keep yourself warm in the elements.
- Store all food and items with scents in proper animal proof containers.
Avoid Crossing Rivers
If possible, you should avoid crossing rivers while you are out camping. When people attempt to cross a river by foot, it tends to go hand in hand with a whole host of potential dangers. Not only could you could be swept away by the current, you could pass over (and fall into) a sinkhole, stumble over a slick boulder, or get wrapped up in someone’s discarded fishing wire while crossing. One of the most important skills to survival is to not get wet (especially in cold weather) due to hypothermia, a likely increase in accidents, and the susceptibility to skin breakdown when you’re wet; if you cross a river and are now soaking wet, you’ve just put yourself and your health at risk.
If you do have to cross a river, never cross during rain or a storm. Try to determine the depth of the river with a stick as you progress, and try to cross at a point with as little current as possible. Also, always wear shoes because getting solid footing and keeping your feet protected is more important than keeping your shoes dry. Be sure to let your shoes dry well overnight and near a fire.
If you’re planning on camping for any length of time, it’s important that you pack thoroughly. Sure, many items can be purchased at a camp store in a campground, but there’s no guarantee that the store will have what you need. So here are a few things that I recommend to pack for a camping trip:
- Extra food
- Water bottles/containers to refill
- Hand sanitizer and/or soap
- Maps and/or a compass
- Headlight or a flashlight
- Bug spray
- Rain gear
- Hat, sunglasses, and an extra pair of eyeglasses (if you use them)
- Fire starter (magnesium/flint or a ferro rod) or waterproof matches
- Pocket knife
- A small amount of toilet paper or biodegradable body wipes
- First aid kit (including pain medication)
- Moleskin and foot/blister care
- Water filter or purification device (I carry my Lifestraw with me whenever I camp)
- Duct tape, ropes, and wires
These are just a few tips and tricks that you can utilize to ensure a safe and healthy camping trip. If I’ve missed a few tips (or your favorites), let me know in the comments!
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