Camping, Backpacking, Canoeing, Kayaking and other outdoor adventures are a fun way to get out in into the great outdoors, help you stay fit, and can help relax the mind in nature, away from the stresses of the world. It is important to remember however, that even a short trip in the outdoors can still have it’s risks, and that you should be prepared in order to keep yourself and anyone else with you safe.
This list of tips is designed to help keep your trips safer, but even following all these steps is by no means a guarantee that you will be safe.
- Before going on any trip, make sure someone not coming with you knows: Where you are going, What time you will be back, How many people are coming with you. If something goes wrong on your journey, and you are not back in time, they can always alert the authorities to come and help you. Having some sort of GPS messaging system that can put out an alert in an emergency may also be a good idea.
- Know where you are going and the weather ahead of time. Knowing what the weather will be like each day of your trip is invaluable information, as you can plan how far to go daily. You should also know where you are going to camp each night for over night trips.
- Packing and storing food and scented products properly is another important issue. You should always keep your food and scented products away from your sleeping area at night. You should know before your trip what sort of wildlife will be in the area. This will tell you whether you need to hang your food up a tree overnight. Your camping location may also have locations designated to store food and scented products, and you should take advantage of those if so. Do research before your trip to know what preparations you need to do to make sure that you will not attract undue attention from animals. Also make sure to separate your raw food from cooked meals. You do not want to contaminate your own food supply.
- Stay Hydrated. Make sure that there will be a clean, potable water supply wherever you are going. Sometimes an option like that will not be available, and you may have to collect water from a stream or river. If you do so, make sure to boil the water first, or use some form of water purification beforehand so you don’t get any nasty illnesses from the water. If your feeling thirsty or doing strenuous activity, make sure your drinking water. Always bring a water bottle with you.
- If you are going to have a campfire, make sure that you are cautious so that you don’t cause a fire. Keep your fire in a pit, and make sure that it is at least 15 feet away from any tent walls, shrubs, and trees. Never leave your fire unattended, if you must leave it make sure to always extinguish it first. When extinguishing a fire, make sure that every ember and coal is out.
- Make sure to use insect repellent that doesn’t dissolve easily in water. Always check yourselves for ticks, every singly day, if you are in an area that could have ticks. Also check parts of your body that you may not normally check to make sure that you have no ticks.
- In the times of the year that there is a risk of sunburn, you should always wear and bring sunscreen with you while camping. Additionally, eye protection such as sunglasses, or snow goggles can be useful to keep the sun out of your eyes, (or in the case of snow goggles, reflected sun off the snow).
- Know the allergies of everyone who is traveling with you, and what you need to do to treat those allergies if they flare up. Make sure if anyone requires an epipen that you bring one or more epipens with you, as needed. If someone has an epipen, you should probably make sure you have some method of emergency extraction, as if you use an epipen to treat someone, they must get to a hospital as soon as possible.
- Always bring a well stocked first aid kit with you. Some items to consider bringing with you are: adhesive bandages (multiple sizes), aloe vera, sunscreen, epipen, emergency blankets, prescription medicines, gauze pads (various sizes), antiseptic creams and ointments, sterile wipes and rinse solutions, butterfly bandages, pain and anti-inflammatory medicine, hydrocortisone cream, tweezers, scissors, safety pins, knife, sunburn relief, antihistamines, eye drops, antibiotic ointment, moleskin, hand sanitizer.
- As mentioned earlier, proper care and storage of the food that you bring with you will lower the rate at which you could potentially encounter any wildlife. However, you should still be aware of what to do if you encounter wildlife. If you are traveling in an area that has bears, you should first bring some form of bear spray with you in order to protect yourself if need be, and keep it in a position that you can use it on a moments notice. Do not go travelling with dogs in bear country. Next up, you should attempt to keep as much distance as possible away from any bears or bear cubs so they will not perceive you as a threat. When making distance from bears, back away slowly… do not run.
- Do not run or attempt to be stealthy with bears. They will outrun you and catch you, and if you scare them as a result of being stealthy they may attack you. If a grizzly bear is charging you, start spraying your bear spray from 40-50 feet with the goal of creating a wall of pepper spray to protect you. If it is not deterred by bear spray, you should play dead. While playing dead, make sure to lace your fingers over the back of your neck to protect it, and guard your stomach by laying flat on the ground or in the fetal position with knees tucked under your chin. Don’t move. Grizzlies are known to linger for lengths of time around 20 minutes to ensure you are “dead” so keep that in mind when playing dead. You cannot realistically outrun or outfight it. In the case of black bears, you should make yourself as big and scary looking as possible, as they are less aggressive than black bears and may ignore you if they perceive you as big. Do not freak out if a bear stands up on it’s legs, staying calm with bears is important. A bear may also fake a charge at you, so don’t freak out if it does so, just stay calm and fire off bear spray to protect yourself.
- Site cleanliness is vital. Keeping your site clean and trash free reduces the likelihood of animals being attracted to your site. It also reduces the risk on you accidentally tripping upon debris in your site as well.
- You should know what poisonous plants are in the region you are traveling, as well as how to identify them and treat the symptoms they cause.
- Finally, it is always a good idea to bring a map, compass and other navigational materials, as well as the knowledge required to use the materials, just in case you find yourself lost.