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Planning a Safe Summer Camping Trip
Protective and Personal Gear
- Insect repellent
- Sunscreen—Use water-resistant 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.
- GPS system, if a signal is available
- Your smart phone may have all of these
Camp Set-up Gear
- Tent and sleeping bags
- Plastic sheet—Plastic can be used for protection, warmth, or shelter.
- Candles and lantern.
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- Matches or lighter—Keep matches stored in a dry place.
- Pocket knife
- Pocket mirror
- Radio with fresh batteries
- Trash bags
- Water bucket to keep by the fire
- Portable foods like trail mix, bread, peanut butter, fruit, and granola bars make good camp food choices, especially for day trips
- Dried food, like pasta, beans, and rice is more lightweight than canned goods
- A cooler for perishable foods
- Always wash your hands before handling food
- Portable pots, pans, and cooking utensils. Don't forget the skewers for S'mores
- Foil—It can have many uses. You can form it into a cup or use it as a signaling device
- Water purification tablets or a water filter if you cannot bring enough fresh water
- Detergent and a basin for doing dishes
- Gas stove with supply of gas for cooking
First Aid Kit
- 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 entering.
Dealing With Animals, Insects, and Plants
- 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.
- Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Michael Woods, MD, FAAP
- Review Date: 06/2017
- Update Date: 07/10/2017