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Planning a Safe Summer Camping Trip
Protective and Personal Gear
- Insect repellent
- Sunscreen—Use sunscreens with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or more.
- Sunglasses—Be sure that your sunglasses block 100% of UVA and UVB radiation.
- Clothing that can be layered such as tank tops, long-sleeved shirts, sweaters, and long pants
- Extra socks
- Hiking shoes or boots
- Rain gear such as waterproof pants and jackets
- Prescription glasses, if needed
- Whistle—It can be used to scare off animals or to alert someone if you get lost.
Camp Set-up Gear
- Tent and sleeping bag
- Plastic sheet—Plastic can be used for protection, warmth or shelter.
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- Matches—Keep matches stored in a dry place.
- Pocket knife
- Pocket mirror
- Radio with fresh batteries
- Trash bags
Food and Beverage Gear
- Food—Portable foods like trail mix, bread, peanut butter, fruit, and granola bars make good camp food choices. Always wash your hands before handling food.
- Foil—It can have many uses. You can form it into a cup or use it as a signaling device.
- Water purification tablets or water filter if you cannot bring enough fresh water
- A first-aid manual
- Adhesive bandages of different shapes and sizes
- Sterile gauze pads of different sizes
- Adhesive tape
- Elastic bandages
- Antiseptic wipes
- Cold pack
- Non-latex gloves
- Safety pins
- Tweezers—These will be helpful if you have to remove ticks or splinters.
- Hydrocortisone cream (1%) or calamine lotion
- Topical antibiotic cream
- Oral antihistamine medication
- An epinephrine pen if anyone has known allergies such as an allergy to bee stings
- Medications for pain or fever, such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen
Getting to the Campsite
- 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. A few days before leaving for camp, check in on the latest weather reports. While traveling to your destination, tune into weather reports on the radio.
- Arrive early. Plan to arrive at your destination early. Arriving when there is still plenty of daylight will allow you to get a good view and sense of the area where you are camping, as well as enough time to set up camp.
Setting 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 trouble spots that could easily flood or become muddy if it rained.
- 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 wind gusts. Make sure trees do not have dead branches or other things that could fall and hit someone.
- 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 the entrance quickly to keep insects from getting in.
Dealing With Animals, Insects, and Plants…Oh My!
- Do not leave food out in the open. It is best to store it in the car, if you have one.
- 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 all cooking equipment and store them.
- Wear insect repellent containing DEET or picaridin, since these ingredients provide long-lasting protection.
- Use proper mosquito netting at night. Look for netting treated with insecticide.
- Do not wear cologne or perfume.
- When hiking, wear long-sleeved shirts and pants. 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 that may have attached to you. They usually like to hide behind the ears, in the scalp, under the arms, or in the groin area. If you find a tick, remove it using blunt tweezers or gloved fingers. Grasp it as close to the skin as possible. Then gently pull the tick off the skin.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention http://www.cdc.gov
American Red Cross http://www.redcross.org
Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca
Technical Standards and Safety Authority http://www.safetyinfo.ca
Camping health and safety tips and packing checklist. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/family/camping/. Updated May 30, 2013. Accessed October 10, 2013.
First-aid kit. KidsHealth.org website. Available at: http://kidshealth.org/parent/firstaid%5Fsafe/home/firstaid%5Fkit.html. Updated September 2013. Accessed October 10, 2013.
How to remove a tick. Am Fam Physician. 2002;66(4):646.
Protecting your eyes from solar radiation. American Optometric Association website. Available at: http://www.aoa.org/uv-protection.xml. Accessed October 10, 2013.
Sunscreen. Skin Cancer Foundation website. Available at: http://www.skincancer.org/Sunscreen/. Accessed October 10, 2013.
Sunscreen FAQs. American Academy of Dermatology website. Available at: https://www.aad.org/media-resources/stats-and-facts/prevention-and-care/sunscreens. Accessed October 20, 2014.
Woods and camping safety for the whole family. KidsHealth.org website. Available at: http://kidshealth.org/parent/firstaid%5Fsafe/outdoor/woods.html#. Updated June 2011. Accessed October 10, 2013.
Zielinski-Gutierrez E, Wirtz RA, Nasci RS. Protection against mosquitoes, ticks, and other insects and arthropods. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2012/chapter-2-the-pre-travel-consultation/protection-against-mosquitoes-ticks-and-other-insects-and-arthropods.htm. Updated August 1, 2013. Accessed October 10, 2013.
10/1/2013 DynaMed Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamicmedical.com/what.php : Reimer LJ, Thomsen EK, Tisch DJ, et al. Insecticidal bed nets and filariasis transmission in Papua New Guinea. N Eng J Med. 2013 Aug 22; 369(8):745-53.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 10/2013
- Update Date: 10/20/2014