Guest blog post by Michael Bourke

"Burralow Reserve Camp" BY Stephan Ridgway via flickr.com/photos/stephanridgway/16642502436 under a Creative Commons attribution CC BY 2.0. Full license terms at creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0

If you want to make the most of your time in the great outdoors, safety must be your top priority. Whether you are camping in some of our country’s beautiful national parks, road tripping across the country aboard a campervan hire, or hiking some picturesque trails, you need to be prepared. This mean ensuring you have enough supplies, the proper safety equipment, and a plan for hiking and camping as safely as possible. These safe camping tips will help you ensure your time in nature is as enjoyable as possible.

1. Prepare Plenty of Safe Food and Water

"my camp" BY Ryo Chijiiwa via flickr.com/photos/ryochijiiwa/4994898323 under a Creative Commons License CC BY 2.0. Full license terms at creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0

No matter where you travel for a camping and hiking trip, you want to ensure that your food and water are safe and free of contaminants. The best way to do this is to pack your own food and water. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that you follow a few steps to ensure the safety of your food and drink:

⦁ Pack food in tight, waterproof containers or bags and keep them in an insulated cooler.

⦁ Wash your hands and surfaces often. If you do not have water and soap available, use hand sanitiser.

⦁ Keep raw and cooked foods separate.

⦁ Cook foods to the correct temperatures.

⦁ Chill your foods promptly after eating. Do not allow foods, especially those containing eggs, dairy, and meat, to get to room temperature or to be in the sun for long periods of time.

Tips for Packing

Certain areas of the country will require you to pack more food and water than others. If you are travelling to canyon country in the American Southwest, for example, keep in mind that stores are few and far between. Stocking up with an ample supply of water and food before heading into the canyon is a must.

You also should pack nutrient-dense foods that will help you and your traveling companions have plenty of energy and stamina for hiking through the amazing scenery Gunnison National Park, Canyonlands National Park, and the Dixie National Forest and Bryce Canyon have to offer.

Staying hydrated is always essential when you are camping and hiking, especially if you’re in the desert during the warmer months. It is best if you drink 15-20 ounces of water one to two hours prior to your hike, another 8-10 ounces 15 minutes before you begin, and another 8 ounces every 15 minutes during your hike. If you sweat heavily or hike in extremely hot weather, you should drink more water.

2. Hike in a Group

"Group hike" BY ucniss via flickr.com/photos/ucniss/7560236268 under a Creative Commons attribution CC BY 2.0. Full license terms at creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0

Staying together as a group is vital to your health and safety while hiking. You should remain in a group from the beginning to the end of the hike. Be sure that your group has an adequate number of leaders for the number of hikers in your group and that the hike will be paced to the slowest hiker.

Before heading out, make sure that each member of the hiking group has the minimum gear including warm clothing, hiking boots that cover the ankle, extra food and water, a whistle or noisemaker, rain gear, and a flashlight. You also should make sure that each group member knows exactly what to do if he becomes separated from the group or if an emergency occurs. Finally, you should be sure that the hike leaders know the medical conditions of each group member.

3. Carry Safety Items

Aside from food and water and the minimum gear, you will need safety items to ensure you remain protected in the wilderness. A tent that is both the correct size and weather resistant goes a long way for protecting you from rain and bugs and will provide you with much-needed shelter from the sun.

You also should carry a flashlight, extra batteries, a multi-tool, and a phone charger in addition to a fully-stocked first-aid kit, sunscreen, personal medication, creams for blisters or sunburn, and a solution for insect bites to relieve itching and pain. Many hikers and campers carry a mirror that assists in drawing attention to their location should an emergency occur.

You’ll also need some fire starters, waterproof matches, and other items for starting a fire to keep you warm at night, cook, and keep away animals. Of course, you will need to make sure that you have sand and water on hand to put out your fire before you leave your campsite; otherwise, you risk starting a forest fire.

 

In summary, hiking and camping are two of the best ways to reconnect with friends and family and spend more time in nature. To make your experiences outdoors as safe as possible, you should prepare plenty of food and water, hike in a group, and carry safety items.

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