Do you love camping? Or are you braving it for the first time? Either way, bring a pillow for comfort, get your Spotify ready and head out into the wild outdoors with these 10 safety tips based on information from the U.S. Forest Service.
- Research. Before you leave, check out everything from campsite selection and the area’s wildlife habits to the best equipment to buy and the weather report.
- Take a friend. Emergencies do happen. At the very least, text someone you trust with your itinerary dates, travel route and intended destination, plus your car’s make and license plate.
- Bring emergency supplies. Brush up on first-aid methods and CPR, and pack: map, compass, flashlight, knife, waterproof fire starter, personal shelter, whistle, warm clothing, high energy food, water, sunblock, smartphone and insect protection.
- Arrive before dark. Leave early enough that you’ll be making camp while you still have daylight to choose a spot away from cliffs, streams and high terrain—in case of lightning, you don’t want to be higher than your surroundings. And don’t pitch your tent too close to a campfire!
- Build fires in a safe area. Never use a flame or any other heating device inside a tent. Cook outside the tent; for light inside the tent, use flashlights.
- Keep food fresh and dry. Guard against food spoilage by storing it in a cooler with ice. Use baggies to hold high-protein snacks like nuts, energy bars and peanut butter crackers.
- Discourage bear visits. Don’t leave food, garbage, coolers, cooking equipment or utensils out in the open. At night, use a flashlight, which may keep any hungry bears away from you.
- Don’t drink from streams. Fresh water can look clean, but it probably has bacteria and your body may not handle it well.
- Limit alcohol. Drinking and camping go hand-in-hand in some traditions, but take it easy when you’re around fire and especially if you’re doing any hiking.
- Stay warm. Your humid days in the valley are no predictor of what the temps will be like at night in the mountains. Pack clothing options for a range of weather conditions.
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