Friday, January 4, 2013

Camping Safety and First Aid

“Better safe than sorry”, bet you’ve heard that more than enough times in your life, but it’s true and doesn’t apply any better then when you’re out in the wilderness…or your backyard. Camping is a great pleasure until someone gets hurt, therefore you must be prepared, not just with a first aid kit, but with the knowledge of how to prevent injury paired with responsibility and keeping your eyes open for potentially dangerous situations. Don’t be discouraged if this sounds scary, camping is a blast and totally worth these precautionary measures.

Surviving Zombie Attacks
Just kidding, zombies aren’t wild about campers, but there are some other things that you should be aware of when camping so you know how to keep your family and yourself safe. Every campsite is different and it also depends where you are in the world for what kind of critters you’ll have wondering around, but here are a few general things to watch out for.

Mosquitos and horseflies
If you haven’t had any experience with either of these, congratulations first of all, but being in the outdoors, especially near water, you may have some encounters. Horseflies are a bigger problem up north closer to Canada, but Mosquitos find their place almost anywhere. The first key is to wear clothing too heavy for them to drill through (it’s actually quite pleasurable to watch a little sucker land on your coat all confident and then realize it can’t reach your skin, fly a few centimeters over and try again, then becomes frustrated and fly off.) Expose little skin when the sun is going down, and PLEASE don’t forget the repellent! Insect repellent is a savior, look at the ingredients when buying a bottle; you’ll want the one with the most non-diethyl-metatoluamide, that’s the killer ;). Be sure to spray some on any exposed areas of skin, ankles are a good place too even if you are wearing long socks. Another good idea is to spray a bandana down and wrap it around your neck or even just use it to swat them away.  Be sure to spray down the door of your tent before dark as well If horseflies or yellow jackets are your problem, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to look for a new site, they’re not worth it. . If in fact you do get bit, no big deal, just apply a little After Bite or ammonia and DON”T scratch, that’s what they want. Some people believe taking vitamin B1 or eating garlic will ward them off, but I’ve met mosquitos who will beg to differ.

These Dracula bugs are nasty little vermin that like to find warmth by the blood of your family, so beware and keep an eye out because the trick is to find them and get them off before they get their head under your skin. If you spot a tick and it’s only been a short time, your best bet is to take tweezers to it make sure to grab it at the head and isolate the mouth. Another technique is to use Vaseline or alcohol to cut off its oxygen and wait till it gives up. If bitten, be sure to apply peroxide and some sort of first aid gel such as Neosporin and cover with gauze or a Band-aid.  Lyme disease is transmitted though ticks, although rare, you’ll want to watch for symptoms such as a red splotchy rash, nausea, fever or stiff neck, because in the rare case of getting it, it is easily treated in these early stages.  To prevent tick bites, wear long light colored clothing, and maybe even tuck your pants into your socks with repellent sprayed around openings they could creep in through. You may feel like you look stupid but you’ll feel even more stupid if you have to pull a tick out of your skin. After a hike or any activity that a tick could be caught on your clothing, be sure to shower, shake out you clothes, and maybe even put them in a separate sealed bag just in case.

Poison Oak (Leaves of three, let them be)
Poison oak is transferred through the oils on the leaves, which can be passed from leaf to person to person, so be aware of your surrounding and make sure your family can recognize the three-leafed plant. If in fact you do come in contact apply Caladryl or another similar ointment and try not to itch. Another trick is to expose area to the hottest water you can stand then with ice cold water. This opens the pores and gets the “itch” out, and then the cold water quickly seals the pores. Remember in the spring it’s a shiny green and turns reddish in the summer. Dogs can transfer it too so be sure to bathe them and keep on a leash.

Out in such beautiful scenery, some people forget about life essentials such as drinking enough water. Be sure to supply yourself and family with enough water to last the trip, or bring a water purifier if you’re near a lake. Be sure to never drink unpurified water; don’t want to get Giardia, a microscopic protozoan that can cause abdominal pain and reaction similar to food poisoning. Drinking enough water is important especially in heat and during activity, so make sure your family is drinking enough, and don’t forget about yourself.

Can’t stress enough the importance of sunscreen for the entire family, even if you are “naturally tan” or “don’t burn”. Protect your skin from damage and the risk of heat stroke by wearing a hat, getting under as much shade as possible, and reapply sunscreen and don’t forget to get your ears. Wear chapstick with SPF and protect your eyes with sunglasses. If you decide not to take this instruction and get burned, apply first aid cream or aloe to soothe the burn. Keep the Aloe in the cooler for a cool treatment.

Even if the forecast said sunny clear skies, keep an eye out for suspicious clouds that could bring rain], thunder or lightning. Always bring your rain gear, you can guarantee rain if you forget it. If thunder and lightning to come your way, steer clear of the tent (metal poles…) and spread yourselves out among the site staying away from widower trees (dead standing trees without any stability).  Count the seconds between lightning and thunder, that’s how many miles away it is. If its farther than 25-30 miles, you’re fine to be in the tent, but under that the recommendation is to stay put, preferably sitting on a PFD.  Also if you’re in the water when thunder and lighting are approaching, get out ASAP. Pray for sunny skies and be prepared.

Depending on where you are you may have a problem with critters coming after your food; there are a few ways to handle this. First of all, always clean up before dark to avoid leaving anything out.
  • Bear hang: to do this one you’ll have to know your knots and have a good sturdy tree near by to hang everything from.
  • Burrito wrap: this is where you wrap everything in a tarp, all food and supplies that could attract animals and put your pots and pans on top so that you can wake up if an animal is going after it.

If you do come in contact with a bear or any wildlife for that matter, make it aware that you are humans and you are not trying to harm them. Make noise, but stay calm so you’re sure not to threaten them. If your in the tent, stay in the tent, they wont go after you, as long as there is no food in there; NEVER keep food in the tent, not only does it attract animals, it attracts bugs, don’t even keep toothpaste in the tent.

General Safety
Bring a fully supplied first aid kit on any trip and take it with you on hikes or outings. When entering or swimming in water be aware of rocks and logs and make boundaries for the kiddies. Always watch the fire, and make sure it is put out completely at night, that means no heat or smoke coming from it. Overall keep your eyes peeled for situations that can be dangerous and prepare for them. Be responsible and set rules ahead of time. Being prepared for the worst, but expecting the best is the way to go.