summer hikeFor many people, warm weather means spending as much time outdoors as they can. One popular activity is camping. Here are some tips to make sure your adventure is a safe one.

Packing

Here are some items you will need to pack for your trip:

Personal and Safety Gear

  • Bug spray
  • Water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more
  • Sunglasses that block UVA and UVB rays
  • Clothing that can be layered such as tank tops, long-sleeved shirts, sweaters, and long pants
  • Extra socks
  • Hiking shoes or boots
  • A hat
  • Rain gear, such as waterproof pants and jackets
  • Medicines
  • Prescription glasses, if needed
  • A whistle you can use to scare off animals or to let someone know when you are lost

Navigation Gear

  • Map
  • Compass
  • GPS system, if a signal is available

A smart phone may also have these features.

Campsite Gear

  • Tent and sleeping bags
  • Blankets
  • A plastic sheet that you can use for warmth or shelter
  • Candles and lantern
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Matches or lighter—store them in a dry place
  • Rope
  • Pocket knife
  • Pocket mirror
  • Radio with fresh batteries
  • Trash bags
  • Water bucket to keep by the fire

Cooking Gear

  • Food
    • Foods you can carry on day trips, such as trail mix, bread, peanut butter, fruit, and granola
    • Dried food like pasta, beans, and rice
    • A cooler to keep foods that can spoil
  • Portable pots, pans, and cooking utensils
  • Foil
  • Water
  • Water purification tablets or a water filter if you cannot bring enough fresh water
  • Detergent and a basin for doing dishes
  • Gas stove and fuel

First Aid Kit

Accidents can happen, so be sure to bring a first aid kit that has:

  • A first aid manual
  • Adhesive bandages of different shapes and sizes
  • Sterile gauze pads of different sizes
  • Adhesive tape
  • Elastic bandages
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • A cold pack
  • A splint
  • A thermometer
  • Non-latex gloves
  • Safety pins
  • Scissors
  • Tweezers to remove ticks or splinters.
  • Hydrocortisone cream (1%) or calamine lotion
  • Antibiotic cream
  • Oral antihistamine medicine
  • Pain and fever relievers, such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen
  • An epinephrine pen if anyone has known allergies

Getting to the Campsite

Before leaving home and when on the road, keep these things in mind:

  • Alert friends and family. Let family members and friends know where you will be camping and for how long. In case there is an emergency, it will be good to have someone who knows your location.
  • Check the weather. Check in on the latest weather reports a few days before you leave. Tune into weather reports on the radio while you travel to your campsite.
  • Arrive early. Plan to arrive early when it is still light out. This will give you enough time to set up camp.

Setting Up Camp

Follow these tips to help set up camp:

  • Stay clear of harmful objects. Make sure there are no sharp objects, branches, glass, ant beds, wasp nests, bees, or poison ivy near the campsite.
  • Survey the land. Check the contour of the ground and avoid spots that could flood or get muddy.
  • Find level land. Set up camp on land that is level and large enough to spread out all your gear. Trees and shrubs may also help block strong winds. Make sure trees do not have dead branches or other things that could fall and cause harm.
  • Find a safe spot. Pitch your tent in a safe spot away from the campfire. When entering and leaving your tent, be sure to close it quickly to keep bugs from getting inside.

Campfire

A campfire provides warmth and light, a place to cook, and of course a place to sing songs. Choose a spot for your fire that is far away from your tent. Make sure that it is clear of debris. Keep the fire contained by making sure it is in a metal ring or circled with rocks. After a fire is built, there should always be someone watching over it. When it is time to put the fire out, pour a lot of water over it to make sure that there are no sticks, embers, or coals left burning.

Dealing With Animals, Insects, and Plants

Animals

You will want to make sure you do not leave things out that would attract animals to your campsite. This means keeping your campsite tidy. Here are some tips:

  • Do not leave food out in the open. Store it in your car if you have one nearby.
  • Dispose of all garbage in sealed trash bags. If the campsite has a dumpster, throw all trash bags in it.
  • Keep all coolers closed and latched.
  • Wash and store all cooking equipment.

Insects

You can keep bugs from becoming a problem by taking these steps:

  • Wear bug spray that contains DEET or picaridin.
  • Use mosquito netting at night. Look for netting treated with insecticide.
  • Do not wear cologne or perfume.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants when hiking. Wear closed shoes, like hiking boots or sneakers. Tuck your pant legs into your socks and boots.
  • After a day in the woods, always check for ticks. They usually like to hide behind the ears, on the scalp, under the arms, or in the groin area. If you find a tick, remove it with tweezers or gloved fingers. Grasp it as close to the skin as you are able. Then gently pull the tick off the skin.

Plants

Learn about and be aware of any dangerous plants that are in the area you will be visiting. If you are exposed to a plant like poison ivy, wash the area with soap and water as soon as you are able. Do not eat any plants or berries that you are not certain are safe.

Be sure to keep these tips in mind when camping. Share what you know with your fellow campers. With careful planning, you can have a safe camping trip that will lead to a fun time for everyone.

RESOURCES:

American Red Cross
http://www.redcross.org

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
https://www.cdc.gov

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Health Canada
http://www.canada.ca

Technical Standards and Safety Authority
http://www.safetyinfo.ca

REFERENCES:

All about sunscreen. Skin Cancer Foundation website. Available at: https://www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-prevention/sun-protection/sunscreen. Accessed July 7, 2021.

First-aid kit. Kids Health—Nemours Foundation website. Available at: https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/firstaid-kit.html. Accessed July 7, 2021.

Mosquitoes, ticks, and other arthropods. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2020/noninfectious-health-risks/mosquitoes-ticks-and-other-arthropods. Accessed July 7, 2021.

Sunscreen FAQs. American Academy of Dermatology website. Available at: https://www.aad.org/public/everyday-care/sun-protection/sunscreen-patients/sunscreen-faqs. Accessed July 7, 2021.

Ultraviolet UV protection. American Optometric Association website. Available at: https://www.aoa.org/healthy-eyes/caring-for-your-eyes/uv-protection?sso=y. Accessed July 7, 2021.

Last reviewed July 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board  Last Updated: 7/7/2021