Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Camping Safety Tips: Part 2

Camping Safety Tips: Part 2 – Camp Fires, Wild Animals, Dangerous Activities
by: Mike Foster

Camping provides a great temporary escape from the stresses and dangers of suburban and urban life. However, the camping experience is fraught with its own set of dangers. The wise camper must take these into account and prepare in advance how to make safety in the woods a high priority and counter the inherent risks.

In part 1 of this two-part series, we looked at safety related to food preparation, preparing clean drinking water, and how to minimize the risk of illness from ticks.

In this second and final part, we will now turn our safety focus to properly handling camp fires, avoidance of wild animals, and giving caution due consideration while walking through any wooded areas.


For many people, the thought of sitting, talking, or singing around a camp fire lies at the heart of the outdoor experience. No fire, no fun. However, a fire handled improperly can lead to inadvertent disaster. So safety is of the essence.

When starting, enjoying, and later putting out a fire, use common sense.

For example, if you are camping when the weather has been dry for a lengthy period of time, it would be safer to skip the camp fire altogether. This issue itself may actually influence your decision on selecting a time to camp.

Additionally, only build fires in camp ground provided areas, such as fire rings. Otherwise, clear out a small area in your camping site, and place rocks around a circle to set the parameters for your fire. Within the circle, dig a hole several inches deep for the wood you will burn.

If you have not brought your own wood on the trip, gather wood that is already dead and lying nearby. Make sure that any leaves close to the fire pit are raked several yards away and that there are no paper products lying on the ground. Throw those in the trash.

Once the fire is started, let it build slowly with smaller twigs and dead branches, only placing larger pieces of wood on the pile as the flame grows. Make sure small children remain several feet away from the flame, as the heat can become intense while it grows. And they certainly should not be close enough that they could slip or trip and fall in.

And finally, never leave a camp fire unattended. When leaving the area (say for a walk) or going to sleep for the night, extinguish the flames. Use a lot of water to douse the flames, saving your clean drinking water when at all possible. Stir the ashes and use more water until the remains are cool enough to the fingers.


Most people do not encounter wild animals when camping in the woods, certainly not up close and personal. But that does not mean they are not living in the habitat and posing a quiet danger to humans. It can definitely be entertaining to spot them from a distance, not to mention serving up great snapshot opportunities with a raccoon, deer, or even a bear. However, in such a situation, distance between you and the animal is one of your best friends.

Never (ever) attempt to feed an animal you encounter. It is not your pet dog or cat and may attack! That is an instinctive response. Even if you make no gestures that seem threatening, the animal may interpret it that way.

If a wild animal approaches you, back away slowly and do nothing to invite its approach.

Minimize your risk of an animal encounters in the first place by wrapping all food securely and putting it away when you have finished eating. Then throw away food-related trash in camp provided trash receptacles.


There is nothing quite like a long, quiet walk in the woods. Remain on paths that have been designed for walks. Use common sense.

* Refrain from hanging on tree branches. Old, dying, or thin wood can easily snap off.

* Avoid walking close to or leaning over steep cliffs, whether they are primarily rock or brush. It would be easy to slip or lose your balance. A subsequent fall could be disastrous.

* Do not attempt to conquer gravity in the opposite direction either. That is, refrain from climbing steeply angled rocks. You are on a camping trip, not a mountain climbing expedition.

* In the winter, never walk on frozen water. Regardless of surface appearance, there is no method to assess how thin and weight-bearing capable the ice may be.

As you can see, the camping experience is not a danger-free zone. The great outdoors certainly provides compelling motivation to seek quiet time with nature. But this activity cannot be done with reckless abandon. In fact, making safety in the woods a habit actually assists with maximizing the many positives of the camping experience.

About The Author
GreatWay Plus, LLC. Owner: Mike Foster. Check us out at http://www.greatwayplus.com/

Camping Safety Tips: Part 2

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Sunday, August 05, 2007

Camping Safety Tips

Camping Safety Tips: Part 1 – Food, Water, Ticks
by: Mike Foster

Camping out in the woods can be one of the most gratifying experiences available for those who stress over the hustle and bustle of daily life in or near a city. The dangers of contemporary lifestyles and environments can themselves drive people to the slow pace of the woods. Crime, careless drivers, pollution, identify theft. Who needs it!

While seeking a safe haven from the pitfalls of "civilization", the camper must also bear in mind that the great outdoors is fraught with its own set of dangers. Let's consider a few and how you can counter the risks.

In part 1 of this two-part series, we'll look at food safety, ensuring you have clean water to drink, and avoiding ticks.


Bacteria can invade many types of food, especially those high in protein and moisture, such as milk, milk products, eggs, meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, cream pies, custards and potato salad. After preparation, these foods must be kept either hot (above 140 degrees Fahrenheit) or cold (below 45 degrees Fahrenheit). Between the two temperature ranges lurks the danger.

A camper who does not have the means of sustaining food that can easily spoil outside of those thermometer readings should not bring them on the trip at all. It would be much safer to bring canned food and garden goodies.

Exposed food should be prepared prior to the trip and protected in plastic prior to icing them since ice can trap harmful bacteria. For example, though ice pulled from a frozen stream in winter can help to keep food cold, it should never be permitted to touch the food itself.

And whether eating meals from a picnic table or sitting on the ground, always cover the eating area with something clean, like a plastic table cloth.

Any food that you suspect may be spoiled should be disposed of rather than eaten. The risk is just too high.


When you are thirsty, there is nothing like a cold, clear glass of water to satisfy. At home, our tap water is normally relatively safe, though many people opt to filter it through one means or another to improve the odds of safe drinking.

Aside from water that is purified for us, however, it has been estimated that the vast majority of surface water in the US fails to meet government standards for intake safety.

When you are camping without your own water (or a sufficient supply) and are not at a camp ground that has purified running water available, you will need to take additional measures to protect yourself from water contaminated by bacteria and viruses.

There are fundamentally four options for accomplishing this. The first you can do at the camp site. The other three require preparation prior to heading out to the camp site.

* Boil the water - Heat suspect water to a boil, and let it continue to do so for several minutes. After cooling off, it should be consumable.

* Iodine liquid or tablets - Instructions that come with the iodine will explain how many drops to use for a specific amount of water, and for what time period.

* Filtering - Most microorganisms can be filtered out depending upon the materials used in the filter and the filtering design of the unit. When purchased, be sure the instructions clearly state what will and will not be filtered out.

* Purification - Purifying will remove or kill all dangerous water-born bacteria. Using this method, the water should be run through the purifier at least a couple of times to ensure drinking safety.


Ticks look innocuous on the surface. But tiny as they are, they still have the potency to make a person very ill with Lyme Disease. They can dig their way into a person's skin very easily without notice when he rests up against a tree or walks in brush. Once on the skin, ticks will burrow their way in and are not easily removed.

Before you head into the woods, you will need to minimize opportunities that these blood suckers have to find their way to your skin through an opening in your clothing. Tuck in whatever clothing you can: shirt into pants, pant legs into socks, shirt sleeve over top of gloves (if the weather is cool enough for gloves).

Additionally, spray on your clothing a good insect repellent that has a high percentage of. The repellent can be located at any sporting goods store and most general retail outlets.

Upon return to your camp site or turning into your tent for the night, check your body visually and with your hands looking for any small bumps that may be indicative of a tick that has landed on or embedded itself into your skin. Have someone else look carefully through your hair (running their fingers through it) and scan anywhere else that you cannot easily see, such as your back.

If you find that a tick has dug itself into your skin, immediately (but very carefully) remove it with tweezers. Grab it as close to its legs as possible, making sure to extract its entire body. If you are unable to do so, it would be better to leave the camp site for a time to visit a doctor than to risk infection.

In part 2 of this brief series, we will continue our consideration of camping safety tips, focusing specifically on camp fires, wild animals, and dangerous activities in the woods.

About The Author
GreatWay Plus, LLC. Owner: Mike Foster. Check us out at http://www.GreatWayPlus.com

Camping Safety Tips