Fall is the perfect time for camping or hiking. Over 1.5 million people participate in these types of outdoor sports.
Before you start on your outdoor excursion though, be sure you’re prepared. Below is a list of outdoor health and safety risks you should watch out for. You can have a safe hiking and camping experience as long as you follow through with all of your preparations.
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning: Carbon monoxide is dangerous because you can’t see it or smell it. Because of these factors you could get sick or die before you knew it was there. To protect yourself, place stoves, heaters, lanterns and any other such items outside tents. If you anticipate cold weather, dress accordingly.
Wildlife: Stay safe by keeping your distance from all animals and wildlife you meet on the trail. Do not feed or attract any wildlife or leave your garbage and waste scattered around your camp. Leave them alone at all times.
Rules for campfire safety: Do not build your campfire near or under trees. Put rocks around the fire pit to contain any hot embers. Make sure you have water handy just in case. Keep extra wood and kindling away from the fire. Most importantly, never leave a fire unattended, period.
Sun Exposure (Sunburn): Being outside means exposure to the sun and its harsh rays. Be sure to use a sunscreen of at least 15 SPF on all days, including cloudy and overcast, as you can still get burned.
Ticks, Mosquitoes, Horseflies, etc: Just as sure as you are in the woods, you will be exposed to critters that will want to take a bite. The best defense is to use an insect repellent that contains DEET.
Upon preparation for my own trips I have found that the CDC recommends DEET, picaridin, IR3535 or eucalyptus against mosquitoes, and repellents with 20% DEET for ticks. Follow package directions for use. You should also wear long sleeves and pants whenever possible, weather permitting. Wear light-colored clothing, as dark colors seem to attract ticks and mosquitoes.
Blisters, Scratches, Scrapes, etc.: Blisters, scratches and scraped knees are common afflictions found on a hiking trail. Be sure to bring along bandages and cleaning cloths in your first aid kit. Keep handy inside your backpack.
Water: The best thing to do is to bring your own drinking water from a source you trust. If you run out of water or are unsure of its safety you should bring the water to a rolling boil for at least 1 minute, 3 minutes for higher altitudes. Never drink questionable water, as the consequences could be dire.
Always remember to let someone know your itinerary and approximately how long it should take you to complete your hiking or camping trip. Know your physical limits and try to avoid heat exhaustion. Stay on the trails and never go anywhere alone.
Should a situation arise while on the trail or back at your campsite, use caution and common sense when making any decision. If you follow basic safety tips and park rules you should be assured of a fun and safe outdoor experience.