Camping Precautions from Dr. DeMeyere-Coursey
Warmer weather sparks the outdoor adventurer in many of my patients. Whether you’re hoofing it 5-10 miles to a secluded campsite or have decided to invest in “glamping” this year, it’s important to keep yourself healthy so you can continue to enjoy these activities for years to come. There’s not much that’ll ruin a camping trip faster than a sudden illness or injury where resources are scarce, especially when it is preventable.
1.) Keep a first-aid kit on hand! At a minimum, make sure you have some clean water to rinse out any wounds that are unfortunately acquired, and some basic bandages, gauze, and tape. Antibiotic ointment can be useful for various small cuts, scrapes, or burns. Some basic over-the-counter medications which may be of use include ibuprofen, acetaminophen, anti-allergy, and antacid tablets. Latex-free medical gloves can be used in a pinch when you’re dressing a wound to keep it clean. Sunscreen at a recommended SPF 30 or stronger can help to prevent burns when you’re looking at getting some sun exposure.
2.) Ticks – Not only are they creepy looking. They can carry various bacteria which lead to such infamous illnesses as Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Protect yourself from ticks while you’re out in the woods by knowing where they tend to thrive – wooded, grassy regions. If walking on a trail, stay to the center of it to avoid exposure. Wear a repellent; One with 20% of DEET can last for several hours. Wear tall socks, pants, and long sleeves to keep your skin from being an easy target. After you come indoors, check clothing and body for ticks (a good place to do this is in the shower). If you do find a tick, remove it immediately by grasping at the head as close to the skin as possible and pulling straight out. If you see a rash or become ill after exposure to a tick, be sure to see you doctor right away.
3.) Mosquitoes – Similar to ticks, a good repellant will help to protect against mosquito bites. We are fortunate in the United States to not have as many deadly viruses circulating in our mosquito population, but it is not impossible. Wear long sleeves and pants, and remember to keep your screens up when you’re traveling in and out of your tent, cabin, etc.
4.) Food – Keep raw and cooked foods separate when you are traveling in water-tight containers. Additionally, make certain foods that are meant to be cold stay cold in an insulated cooler. When cooking meat, be sure to do so to proper temperatures.
5.) Water – Fresh, clear running water may sound appealing to drink from until you consider what may have happened upstream. Animals and even other humans may have eliminated their various waste products in that water, so to avoid various stomach illnesses including giardia you need a clean supply of water. Either bring in your own stores of fresh water or purchase an approved water filtering system that is easy to transport. A local camping or outdoor store will be able to provide you with excellent recommendations.
6.) Carbon monoxide – If you have any gas-burning equipment including stoves, lanterns, grills, be sure to use these in an open environment. Carbon monoxide is colorless, odorless, and deadly. To avoid the temptation of using gas to stay warm inside your tent, bring plenty of covers and clothing to bundle up in, especially at night.