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Be prepared when enjoying the great outdoors

Published in For the Health of It Author: Melissa Pribyl, MSN, RN

Some of the best summer memories are made while camping. The peace of nature, warm glow of the crackling campfire, and who can forget the melting chocolatey goodness of s-mores? Keep these tips in mind to keep your camping experience safe, healthy and full of lasting memories for your family.

Remember to always use common sense and take necessary precautions.


  • Plan out your meals. Decide how many meals you will need based on the days of your trip. How many will you eat at the campsite, out and about, on the hiking trail or boat, and what will you need for snacks? Determine where you can buy additional items if needed.
  • Choose convenient, camping-friendly food such as granola bars, trail mix, bread, peanut butter, fruit and vegetables. For especially remote camping, or for convenience, bring dehydrated meals that only need water.
  • Pack food with care. Put food in waterproof, plastic bags or containers, separate raw foods from cooked foods, and keep perishable food in an insulated cooler with ice.
  • Frequently replenish your ice. Keep perishable food cold at all times to avoid spoilage and food poisoning.
  • Be careful with stoves and gas canisters. Keep the canister upright at all times. Choose an open, well-ventilated, outside area. Do not operate around another heat source, such as a campfire. Turn off the stove when not in use.
  • Wash hands and cooking surfaces often and clean up thoroughly after meals and snacks.
  • Avoid attracting animals. Keep the campsite free of food smells. Do not bring food into tents or soft side campers. Store food in your vehicle overnight.


  • Choose the fire site. Find a clearing, rid the area of all debris and make sure there are not overhanging branches. Avoid building near tents and other flammable items. Look for a previous fire pit or a use the fire ring provided by the campground. If necessary, surround the fire ring with rocks.
  • Have the right tools. Keeping a bucket of water, shovel and a fire extinguisher nearby is important if you should have to put out a fire.
  • Build the fire only as big as you need. A fire can quickly get out of hand. Don’t get too big too fast.
  • Completely put out the fire before you leave the area or go to bed.

A few more

  • Supervise children constantly. Before you arrive at your destination, talk to your children about the importance of staying near the camp site and not wandering off or leaving the site without an adult’s permission. Watch children very closely near a campfire and water.
  • Pack a first aid kit. Keep the supplies in a waterproof container and review the items to make sure you know how to use everything in the kit.
  • Avoid getting burned and bitten! Sunburn can happen in a short period of time even on cloudy days. In all your fun, don’t forget to put on sunscreen frequently and wear protective clothing. Make sure to bring enough bug repellant to keep the insects from becoming a nuisance.
  • Know your surroundings and stay current with the weather. Research the area or campground you will be staying at and familiarize yourself with the rules, potential dangers and weather. In case of an emergency, know where the closest hospital is located. And since weather conditions can change quickly, use your radio or smartphone to stay updated on the latest forecast. Be prepared and take caution with any warning of severe weather.