Camping and Wilderness Safety

July 26 00:00 2001 Print This Article

Camping in the wilderness can be an enjoyable activity for the whole familyif you are prepared. The safest campers have respect for the wilderness and are responsible in the outdoors.

Since unexpected things happen while camping, it is important to plan ahead and follow common sense safety precautions, said Elaine Josephson, MD, of the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP). Keep in mind that different wilderness areas have their own unique characteristics and dangers, so be sure to talk to the local park ranger before you leave on your trip.

ACEP offers the following practical tips to keep in mind during your next camping trip.

  • Let someone know where you will be camping and your itinerary.

  • Avoid camping alone in isolated areas.

  • In case of emergency, park your vehicle so it cannot be blocked by another vehicle.

  • Familiarize yourself with local emergency locations and phone numbers.

  • Avoid leaving your camping gear unattended.

  • Get to know your camping neighborsand help protect each others belongings.

  • Avoid walking alone at night.

  • Carry a spare lock so you can use storage containers available at many parks.

  • Always lock your camping trailer towing hitch so your trailer cannot be towed away.

  • Before taking weapons with you, be aware of regulations. In many parks and wildlife refuges it is illegal to carry weapons.

  • Be prepared for changes in the weather and wear multi-layered clothing made of polypropylene, wool, and cotton. Protect against rain and wind by bringing breathable, lightweight weatherproof jackets and pants.

  • Take along plenty of bottled water, or have a reliable method of water purification.

  • Plan meals for your trip ahead of time, and take along extra food.

  • Beware of wilderness dangers, including poison oak, sumac, and ivy, and stay clear of all wild animals.

  • When hiking, tuck pant cuffs into socks and boots to protect against ticks.

  • Children should wear brightly colored clothes to increase visibility.

  • Bring along a complete first-aid kit, and take a first-aid and CPR course before you leave.

  • Be sure everyone in your party is aware of park/campground rules and regulations.

  • When hiking, backpacking or cross-country skiing, notify the ranger or campground host of your plans, including the trails you are hiking, the expected time of your return and the name of a friend or relative to be notified in case of emergency.

  • Consider having everyone carry a whistle in case of emergency.

  • Never let children wander off by themselves or leave them unattended.

  • Always have somebody supervising children near a body of water.

  • Remember to stay calm in the event of an emergency.

Source: ACEP

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