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Campsite Safety: How To Handle Hiking, Fires, and More

 Taking off on a camping retreat is a great way to leave your worries behind and explore nature, but it’s important to remember that it is a pastime that requires some extra preparation and precaution. Making safety a priority will help give you peace of mind while you’re away from home and allow you to focus on having fun.

 If you have children, there are even more things to consider, such as ensuring they don’t get dehydrated or sunburned, making sure they have the right clothing for the temperature, and keeping them away from hazardous areas and fire. It’s important to talk to your family before leaving for the trip and start a conversation about the best ways to keep each other safe, as well as the rules for the campsite. If you have several family members, give everyone a “buddy” so that they’ll never be alone during the trip; this way, everyone can be safety monitors when you can’t have your eyes on each person.

 Here are some of the best tips on how to stay safe while camping.

Have a plan

 Camping often includes several different outdoor activities, such as fishing, hiking, and exploring. Go into it with a clear head and have a plan for any contingency; this way, in case of an emergency, you’ll be prepared. One of the best ways to do this is to pack smart for each family member. Make sure everyone has weather-appropriate clothing and accessories. Don’t forget swimsuits, plastic bags to put the wet clothing in until it can be washed, a first-aid kit, and water bottles or canteens for each person. Giving everyone the right tools to stay safe and hydrated will give you peace of mind, as well as a few less things to worry about.

 No one wants to think about injuries or emergencies when they’re away from home, but it’s important to do just that when you’re taking a camping trip. Having a good plan will help you get through anything. Teach your family members about how to handle fire on their clothing, what to do if they get hurt while hiking, and the importance of staying together anytime you leave the campsite.

Plan for pet safety

More and more people are including their four-legged friends in their outdoor adventures. Fido can be a great companion in camping outings, but it’s critical you plan for his safety as you would for every other member of your family.

Before you venture out, be sure he’s up to date on all of his flea and heartworm prevention medications and vaccines, including his rabies and lyme disease shots. If he doesn’t already have one, get him a collar with tags that have his name and your current phone number and address, and keep it on him at all times. Be sure he has plenty of food and water for the trip, and has portable food and water bowls that can be packed up and put away when not in use--keeping his food dish out could invite unwelcome pests.

Finally, take all precautions to keep him away from dangerous wildlife creatures. Even if you won’t be in an area where large animals--like bears or bobcats--are a concern, a hawk or even a racoon can be dangerous if it comes face to face with your pup. Since racoons are common at just about any campsite--after all, they tend to hang out wherever humans’ food is in easy reach--have a plan for such an encounter with your dog. Rover.com advises that if a racoon approaches your pooch, “‘You have two choices--come at them like a predator with an object like a bat, or wait for them to simply go away,’ [dog behavioral specialist Beverly] Ulbrich says.”

Go over fire safety

 Campfires provide warmth, light, and a place to cook food, so they’re often used year-round at campsites. It’s imperative to make sure your family is well aware of any safety issues where fire is concerned, so lay down the rules early: no playing or running around the fire, only adults can use matches and lighters, and keep a distance from the grill at all times. Teach them what to do if something unforeseen should happen, such as a sleeve catching fire: stop, drop, and roll on the ground until the fire is out. For first or second-degree burns, running cold water over the affected area, avoiding using cotton balls, and keeping it clean is imperative until you can get to a doctor or hospital.

 Third-degree burns are the most serious, and can produce a waxy white color, a blackened color, or a raised, leathery texture. Due to the possibility of nerve damage, the individual may not feel pain right away. Do not attempt to treat this burn yourself; get to emergency services immediately.

Being prepared and keeping your family educated and well-informed about how to handle any situation will allow you to focus on having fun and leaving your stress at home. Remember to pack a full first-aid kit and keep some communication with the outside world, if possible. That way, if something does happen, you’ll be able to contact someone to let them know.

Jamie Strand is an unashamed nerd. He  loves writing about science-related topics and spending time with his two daughters. He wants to share his love of science and math with kids today and that’s why he and a friend got together to create Scicamps.

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