Camping trips are a great way to get the family together and enjoy the outdoors. As you prepare to partake in this timeless American tradition, keep safety a priority. Staying safe takes more than making sure you packed the LED lights and batteries. Use the guide below to ensure your camping trip is memorable for all the right reasons.
Basic Camping Safety Checklist
1. Be Prepared
In addition to making sure you packed the essentials, preparedness includes prevention. For example:
- Verify that everyone on the trip has current tetanus shots.
- If taking pets, make sure their vaccines are up to date.
- Pack protective gear (e.g., helmets, life jackets or hiking shoes) if you plan to do outdoor activities.
- Know what dangerous plants look like, including poison oak, poison ivy and poison sumac.
- Give every person a waterproof whistle and a small LED flashlight on a lanyard to use when there’s an emergency.
- Know the locations of the hospital and urgent care center nearest the campsite.
- Know the threat of wildfires in the area and if a fire may affect your trip.
- Pack cell phone battery packs in case the campsite doesn’t have an electric outlet or for use in an emergency when you’re away from the campsite.
Basic items to include in your packing list include:
- LED flashlights
- Other types of LED lights, such as lanterns and headlamps
- Pocket Knife
- First aid kits
- Water purifiers
- Water bottles
- Hand sanitizer
- Map of the campsite and surrounding area
- Cell phone
- Weather radio
Before you head out on your trip, tell someone where you plan to camp, the campsite number (if applicable) and the day you expect to return.
2. Food and Drinking Water Safety
Food- and water-borne illnesses can quickly ruin a lovely camping trip. Prevent such illnesses by:
- Packing healthy foods that won’t perish quickly without refrigeration, like bananas, apples, canned chicken and whole grain crackers.
- Pack foods that need refrigeration in waterproof containers or bags and keep them in an insulated cooler with ice.
- Keep raw and cooked foods in separate coolers or containers.
- Cook foods until they are well done. Check their temperature with a food thermometer.
- Always wash your hands before preparing a meal or eating. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer.
- Keep your cooking surfaces clean.
- If the campsite doesn’t provide clean water, bring your own. You’ll need enough for each person (about 2 liters per day) and enough for washing different items like pans, dishes and hands.
- Boil water, bring water purifiers and/or use iodine tablets if you don’t bring water with you and the campsite doesn’t have clean water.
- If you have diarrhea or a stomach bug, don’t swim in the surrounding bodies of water because you risk spreading your illness to others who swim in it.
3. Avoid Mingling with the Wildlife
In addition to being poisonous or having scary claws and teeth, wild animals sometimes carry ticks and diseases like hantavirus and rabies. Stay safe in the wilderness by:
- Not feeding, petting or getting near wild animals.
- Keep food packed in sealed containers, like bear-resistant food canisters. If your car is nearby, keep the food in it when you’re not eating.
- If the campsite doesn’t have sealed garbage cans, store your garbage in sealed containers and/or in your car.
- Wear long sleeved-shirts and long pants to prevent bug bites. In addition, use an insect repellent with DEET to repel bugs.
- Inspect each other for ticks.
- Use LED lights, such as lanterns, to illuminate the campsite without attracting mosquitoes.
4. Be Fire-Smart
Before you build a fire at a campsite, make sure it is allowed, especially during wildfire season. As you plan to build a fire and gather the supplies, fill a bucket with water to keep near the fire. If the site has a fire pit, use it instead of making your own.
Put out fires before you leave the campsite and before going to sleep. If you feel as if the fire is getting out of control or too big, extinguish it with water or smother the coals with dirt.
5. Protect Yourself from the Weather
The weather is unpredictable. You never know when a frigid night will follow a warm, sunny day. Protect yourself from exposure by packing the right items and taking care of yourself. For example:
- Protect yourself from the sun with at least sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat.
- Avoid midday activities, when sunrays are the strongest. If possible, do activities and take breaks in shady areas.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Pack warm clothes and adequate bedding in case the weather gets cool.
- Place a tarp under your tent to help keep it dry.
If you need to stock up on camping gear like LED flashlights or multi-tools, check out the selection that COAST offers to help keep you prepared and safe.