Camping is a popular hobby for those who love the outdoors. It is an activity that is quintessential Americana, that close to 40 million Americans take part in every year. Whether you’re a part of a scout troop, planning a family vacation or you want to act out the movie, Deliverance, camping is a fun and exciting adventure.
Unfortunately, there is an element of risk in camping. There are a number of common outdoor injuries, illnesses, and conditions that you might experience out there. You should not live in fear, but you can take several smart preventative measures to make sure you have a safe camping trip. Follow these healthy living tips for a safe and fun-filled camping trip.
The majority of camping enthusiasts do not just go off on a three-day trip at the spur of the moment. A camping trip usually involves a great deal of planning. Doing extensive research beforehand can be a great way to combat these common outdoor injuries. You first need to pick a location. An experienced camper might have a favorite spot that they frequently visit. A relatively new camper or someone just looking for a change of pace may be heading to a brand-new place. It is best to find out all available information about the location. Are you camping at a public park or somewhere privately owned? You can talk to others who have camped there and solicit their input. For a public park, you can talk to the rangers, managers, etc. They could answer questions about safety measures, services and supplies provided, what wildlife is in the area, facilities with proper septic tank maintenance, and more. Check out some pictures of the campgrounds, either through their website or Google Maps. That can help you get a sense of the landscape. These pictures can help you identify some treacherous spots that you should avoid.
You should also keep up to date on the weather reports. Even if it only rains beforehand, muddy conditions could be dangerous for hikers. Another helpful step to take is to better acquaint yourself with the surrounding area. Should you need emergency care, find out where the nearest hospital, family medical center, or urgent care clinic is. This could make a huge difference when faced with an emergency situation. With this information in your pocket, you can make a wise decision and help prevent common outdoor injuries.
Any Boy Scout should know the motto, be prepared. While you’re in the planning stages, you decide what it is that you need to take. You’ll pack plenty of food, recreational activities, handmade outdoor furniture for relaxation, but make sure you include some of the essential items. One such essential item is extra clothing if you’re on a winter campout. For a warm-weather trip, plenty of sunscreen and bug spray is essential. While you do want to prevent any injury from happening, sometimes they are inevitable. You should also pack a first aid kit for those inopportune moments. Make sure your first aid kit is well stocked. Bandages, gauze pads, ointment, moleskin, and tweezers are some of the essential items every first aid kid should include.
If you’re planning on doing some hiking during your trip, proper footwear is a must. Leave those old ratted boots at home and invest in a new comfortable pair. Comfortable footwear with proper support can help prevent blisters. Make sure you also have plenty to drink. In extreme heat, dehydration is a grave concern. Keep you and your fellow campers prevent dehydration by having plenty of fluids.
Sprains and Strains
Whether you’re going on a hike or canvassing the forest the firewood, expect to do a lot of walking on your camping trip. With constant movement, you run the risk of injury. Sprains and strains are among the most common outdoor injuries that campers frequently suffer from. An important preventative step to take is proper stretching beforehand. Before starting your hike, make sure you stretch out your knees, legs, ankles, arms, wrists, and neck. You can work out and relax your joints this way.
Trekking poles can be highly effective when trying to keep your balance and taking on steep hills. Comfortable boots are great for not only preventing blisters. They will also help prevent ankle sprains and strains. Comfort souls can also ease your feet during your trek. Also, make sure to scan out the area before your hike. It is best to avoid heavily wooded areas. Downed trees, sticks, and rocks are some of the most treacherous tripping hazards. Try to stay on a nice smooth path, free of debris.
Poison ivy, oak and sumac are a dangerous trifecta. Coming into contact with any of them will lead to a rash and miserable weekend. The best defense against poisonous plants is simple: avoid them altogether. In order to avoid them, you have to know what they are first. Do some research so you will be able to identify them. The park ranger’s office and or welcome centers should have pamphlets with all the information about plants. You can also search online for pictures and descriptions. One caveat with the internet is that you are unlikely to get wi-fi at your site. Look up the necessary information and print it out before you leave.
With all the information in your back pocket, you will now know what spots to avoid. If someone does come into contact with these plants, you don’t need to panic. You do, however, need to act quickly. Wash the spot thoroughly. It takes about ten minutes for the poisonous oil, known as Urushiol, to attach to the skin.
Campfires are another staple of the outdoor adventure. They can be used for making s’mores, cooking food or just for relaxation and camaraderie. Unfortunately, there are many common outdoor injuries derived from fires. Being close to the flames leaves one susceptible to burns. Even if you’re not cooking over the campfire, you can still get burned.
Much like the poisonous plants, the best way to defend against burns is to avoid them. It is important to keep a safe distance from the flames. Make sure that the fire pit is large enough to contain the fire. Don’t get overzealous while building a fire. Seeing flames shoot up into the night sky may look cool, but it is not smart. You will likely get a visit from the authorities if your fire is too large. Designate an experienced individual from your crew to be in charge of fires. Keep a bucket of water close by.
When building a fire, the best advice is to use common sense, like not building it too high or fanning the flames. Burns are most frequently associated with cooking. The best course of action is to have a responsible person in charge of cooking. Camping could be a family event and you may want to create a bonding moment with your children. Have your children participate in other means such as mixing ingredients in a bowl or frosting the deserts etc. This can keep them safely away from the hot surfaces.
If you’re planning on a summer camping excursion, the heat will be a major cause for concern. Without proper precautions, you’ll be dealing with more than just an annoying sunburn. Heat exhaustion and heatstroke can occur under the right conditions and can have devasting consequences. Heat exhaustion is not as severe but left untreated it can develop into heatstroke. Make sure you have plenty of water and spend lots of time in the shade during those extremely hot days. RV campers can retire to their air-conditioned unit if they are feeling overheated. Planning ahead can also help combat heatstroke. If the weather reports are calling for increased temperatures, scheduling any long hikes is a bad idea. If faced with this situation, get the victim to cooler temperatures, and give them water immediately. As with any emergency situation, time is imperative. Acting quickly can help stave off disastrous circumstances.
Many campers prefer treks through the snow to the balmy summer. However, winter camping can also come with an element of risk. You don’t need to worry about heatstroke but hypothermia and frostbite are among the most common outdoor injuries and conditions that plague winter campers.
The number rule to keeping warm is to dress in layers. Thermals, a sweater, and a warm winter coat will help keep you warm during the frigid temperatures. If you’re uncomfortable, you can always take a layer off, but you can’t add what you do not have. A hiker may be too far away from their campsite to go back and grab an extra shirt, should they get cold. While packing, include some things to help you heat up. These could include, hand warmers, hot liquids such as hot cocoa, tea and soup, and heavy winter socks. You can also pack a space heater in your RV storage.
Many contract hypothermia after falling in a body of water, so it is best to stay away from any lakes or streams. If you are faced with this situation, it is important to get the victim out of their wet clothes immediately. Get them changed into warm and dry clothes. They can get heated up by the campfire or in the RV. Treating frostbite is different from hypothermia. Your first thought might be to stick the frostbite victim in front of the fire, but that can be harmful. Since they cannot feel their skin, they could be easily burned. For mild cases, skin-to-skin contact in the armpit or groin areas are your best options. If it’s a more severe case, put the affected area in water that is warmer than the average body temperature. After the numbness disperses, you can then wrap it in a bandage.
Broken and Fractured Bones
The rough terrain of the outdoors can give camping enthusiasts some pause. Slips and falls can lead to more than just a sprained ankle. In severe cases, it could result in a broken, fractured, or dislocated bone. They are among the most serious common outdoor injuries.
The best preventative measures are similar to the sprains and strains defense. Avoid situations where you are susceptible to slips and falls. Stay along smooth pathways while hiking. Rocks, sticks, and roots are some dangerous tripping hazards that you’ll find in the forest. You can use trekking poles to maintain balance. Although you should avoid putting your hands through the wrist straps. If you somehow lose your balance, you can become tangled in the straps, further complicating the matters. While preparing for your trip, make sure to include several splints for such a case.
If someone, unfortunately, does suffer a break or dislocation, it is important not to move the affected limb. You could wind up causing more damage. Make sure the victim is comfortable and the injury is immobile. Your splints are used to keep the bone in place until emergency services arrive to deliver more extensive medical treatment.
When you’re out in nature, you are not alone. You might think you’re camping at a beautiful campground, but you are actually right in the middle of several animals’ homes. Most of these critters will leave you alone, but if they are spooked, they might attack. Many common outdoor injuries can be chalked up to bad luck. Animal bites, however, are most often caused by irresponsibility.
Respect these creatures and do not provoke them. A particular animal may be in the middle of mating season and display erratic behavior. This is another reason why research is so important. First research what animals populate the area and determine whether your camping trip occurs during the season. You don’t need to cancel your trip because of this, it is best to be aware and use caution. Research warning signs of rabies, such as foaming at the mouth and disorientation. A nocturnal animal such as a skunk, most likely should not be out during the daylight. If they are, they could have rabies. Some nocturnal creatures, like bats, are carriers of rabies. Avoid going out on midnight hikes, where you might run into some of these critters.
With common sense, research, and planning ahead, you can help prevent many of these common outdoor injuries. Sometimes, however, it is out of your hands. Owners and managers can sometimes fail to adhere to proper safety standards. They then leave their guests vulnerable to accidents. If you find yourself in this situation, contact an attorney. Even if you aren’t able to take legal action against the hosts, an experienced accident lawyer can help you explore all available options.
Camping is a fun and memorable experience for anyone. It gives you a chance to relax, spend quality time with friends and family, and behold the beauty of nature. While these common outdoor injuries can scare anyone, you don’t need to live in fear. By thinking wisely and following these healthy living tips, you are on your way to a safe and fun-filled camping trip.
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