“Hope for the best but prepare for the worst”…

The above quote relates perfectly to camping and safety I think but safety is something often overlooked when preparing for a ‘leisurely’ camping trip because sometimes there’s just so much else to think about, “Will I pack long pants or shorts?”….” What are we going to do for fun”….”Is it too late to drop the kids off at the in-laws?”…. and then there’s other times when that little voice in the back of your head is saying, “Ah, it’s ok you don’t need the first aid kit. What could possibly go wrong?” so I thought I’d put together a Three Part Safety Series to not only help campers best prepare for a safe & enjoyable trip but anyone heading off on an outdoor adventure

In this post we’ll go over several safe planning ideas followed by a foolproof list of what I consider to be  safe camping ‘essentials’ for the outdoors. In Part 2, Outdoors Safety – Being Aware we’ll explore being safety conscious in the outdoors and in part 3, Fire Safety for The Outdoors we delve into the “Five W’s” of  having campfires and general outdoor fire safety practices

 

Planning

 

INFORM OTHERS

    Let (responsible) family members or friends know where you intend on going and provide them with an itinerary or at the very least an idea of activities you will be undertaking when on your trip away. If you are on an extended trip, try to check in with them regularly. This practice is very important as in the event of something ‘going wrong’, at least people have an idea of your whereabouts

     

    PARK RANGERS

      If camping or trekking through a National or State park, be sure to book ahead with Park Rangers to ensure your reservation (you wouldn’t want to rock up and find the campsites are all full) and check in with them again before heading off to make sure there are no warnings in place such as Fire, Flood, Ice, Road closures, etc. Another reason would be to provide them with your itinerary if hiking or climbing. Again, another precautionary step

       

      FIRST AID

        It is a good idea to have a trained ‘first aider’ in your group and that as many people in your group have a  basic understanding of first aid practices. Pack a first aid manual together with your first aid kit and keep it where everyone knows where it is. A first aid kit and manual are vital when camping (see ‘essentials’ below)

         

        FOOD AND WATER

          Plan your food & water supply. This is obviously one of the most important things to do when preparing for your trip but keep in mind things such as where you will source safe drinking water from and water purification methods if fresh water is not available and remember to stay hydrated

          Pack high Protein, high calorie foods that can sustain you for long periods and snacks such as protein bars, Granola bars, Beef jerky, Dried fruit, etc. especially if you’re doing a lot of physical activities

           

          LOCATION

          Location

            Know where you are going and also know your whereabouts at all times. The best bet is to source quality maps that will provide you with that info. Sit down and take the time to ‘map out’ your adventure before leaving home. Even check out Google earth in your planning stage to get a ‘visual’ of your journey and destination (roads, tracks, terrain, rivers, beaches, etc) and highlight ‘stand out’ features on your maps. Also, read forums. Fellow adventure seekers may have tips or important info about places you intend on going and aside from a safety perspective, you wouldn’t want to miss out on any good places on your travels

             

             

            ESSENTIALS

             

            FIRST AID KITFirst aid kit

            Yes campers it goes without saying but I’m gonna say it anyway DO NOT LEAVE HOME WITHOUT ONE. No excuses! There are many types available so choose one suitably stocked for your adventure and remember to replace whatever you use in case you need it on your next trip and keep an eye on expiry dates on ointments and the like and replace when required

             

              CLOTHING

              By clothing I mean ‘suitable clothing’ for your trip, particularly if it’s cold where you’re heading. Remember the thermal undies, gloves, beanie (knit cap), boots, etc. Also think about general things like weatherproof jackets, UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) clothing, hats for sun protection, etc. See part 2 and part 3 for more on protective clothing

              Clothing

                Clothing Tips:

                • Wear polypropylene liner socks under woolen socks as this reduces the likeliness of friction on your skin resulting in blisters
                • Use a ‘layering technique’ when dressing for camping or hiking whereby you dress in layers starting with a ‘wicking’ base layer of clothing that will draw moisture away from your body and add outer (more absorbent) layers of clothing. The ammount your wear is obviously dependent on the outside temperature and you can shed clothing as things warm up
                • Avoid cotton clothing for base layers. It absorbs moisture which in turn prevents ventilation and insulation hence, it does not dry quickly so if the weather gets cold, you stay wet and cold

                 

                SKIN PROTECTIONSkin Protection

                Aside from using clothing and hats for protection from the sun, remember to pack sunscreen (and zinc cream for more exposed areas like your nose & ears). Also think of shin protection such as moisturiser, Aloe Vera creams or gel for soothing sunburn, Lip balm to prevent cracked lips, Rubbing alcohol & lotions and sprays to relief burns, stings, etc and also mosquito and bug repellents

                 

                  COMMUNICATIONCommunication

                  Some forward planning has to be done when choosing how you will communicate with the ‘outside world’ if heading into ‘the wild’, within your group when travelling on/off-road and even on foot and also in emergency situations

                  Some food for thought; Will there be mobile phone reception where I am going?, Would walkie-talkies be practical for hiking?, Do I need a UHF/VHF radio in my vehicle/boat?, Would visual aids such as flares, signal rescue mirrors, beacons, etc. be suitable in my situation in case of an emergency where audio devices may be useless?

                   

                  LIGHTINGLighting

                  I think it goes without saying that a good flashlight is a bare necessity for any outdoor expedition. The more robust and water resistant the better and preferably one with a strobe or SOS mode. Remember to recharge before every use or take spare batteries. Aside from a flashlight, ensure you have adequate lighting around your campsite to avoid any accidents. Especially when cooking at night

                   

                  FIRE

                  If we are going to light fires for cooking, heating, etc. then we need to work out how we’ll go about starting one. Matches, Lighters or the good old Flint & Steel method are the obvious choices but whatever you choose always make sure they are maintained and usable before every trip. Keep them handy and always keep them dry. It’s also advisable to have a ‘backup’ fire starting deviceFire

                    Although fire is something that may not be a necessity for every camping trip, knowing the benefits and pitfalls of fire in the outdoors is definitely something worth knowing.

                    Head over to Part 3, Fire Safety for the Outdoors where we’ll ‘go all in’ in and provide an in depth look at campfires and fire safety practices in a Q and A type format to learn how to safely enjoy the benefits of having a campfire in the outdoors and what to do in case of an emergency, but until then…

                     

                     

                    HAPPY ADVENTURES!

                     


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