Over 1 million Americans become new campers each year and millions more continue to enjoy this back-to-nature experience that provides fun, togetherness and recreation for your entire family, including Fido. Here are the top camping safety tips for ensuring that your family’s outdoor adventure is safe as well as fun.
- Choose the Right Venue
Camping ranges all the way from a tent in the wilderness to a luxurious RV or cabin with all the amenities. Choose the type that best suits your family’s needs and preferences. Do you really want to cook a week’s worth of meals over a campfire? Do you really want to make constant trips to the nearest convenience store for fresh supplies of ice? Do you really want a pit toilet as your “bathroom?” All these considerations and more can mean the difference between a great family experience and one that’s more of an endurance test.
- Food and Water
Bottled water – and plenty of it – is your best option for avoiding tummy upsets, diarrhea and all the other things that can result from a change in water. This goes for Fido as well as for all the humans. In addition, non-alcoholic and low-sugar drinks are far more preferable since they hydrate you and your kids better, especially in hot weather. And remember, if you drink only when you feel thirsty, you’re probably already dehydrated. Make sure everyone, including Fido, drinks plenty of water throughout the day.
Never leave food sitting around your campsite. This is the best way to attract animals that you don’t necessarily want to meet up close and personal. Pack and store all food in secured waterproof containers. And remember to either wash your hands or use prepackaged hand sanitizer wipes before and after handling food.
- Campfire and Fire Pit Safety
It goes without saying that any fire poses a danger to your kids and pets. While few things taste better than hotdogs or brats blackened over an open fire, watch your kids and pets carefully around fires. Also make sure any fire you light has at least a 15-foot radius of clear space. Likewise make sure that you thoroughly douse all fires, not just their glowing embers, when you’re finished using them.
- Bugs and Sun
Take along a good supply of insect repellant sprays and/or wipes that contain DEET and don’t dissolve easily in water. Apply it liberally and often to everyone’s exposed skin and Fido’s coat, particularly around his ears. Mosquitoes, flies, ticks and other insects love the outdoors just as much as you do and some of them, particularly ticks, carry diseases. Thoroughly check everyone’s entire body, including Fido’s, for ticks each and every day, especially if your day included a hiking adventure.
Just because the sun isn’t shining doesn’t mean that its UV rays aren’t pelting your body and eyes. Liberal applications of sunscreen and lipscreen are just as important as liberal applications of bug repellant. Take along broad-spectrum screens that protect against both UVA and UVB rays and have an SPF of at least 15. Also make sure that everyone wears sunglasses and wide-brimmed hats while outdoors.
- Weather Awareness
Never camp right next to a river, stream, or even a dry arroyo or gully. A popup thunderstorm can turn any of these into a raging torrent in a matter of minutes. If you’re camping in the Desert Southwest for the first time, be aware that the 110-degree daytime temperatures can and often do become 50-degree nighttime temperatures. Take along plenty of blankets to assure everyone a comfortable night’s sleep.
Remember, commercial campgrounds are like any other premises. The owner must provide you with a reasonably safe and hazard-free environment. If you or your child is injured or becomes ill through a campground owner’s negligence, please call Richard A. Dubi toll-free at 833-FOR-DUBI (833-367-3824).