I’d like to welcome a guest writer to the blog today! Welcome Jamie Strand!
Simply put, camping is awesome. The immersion in nature, sense of adventurousness, socialization under a starry night sky, and fresh nature air are just some of camping’s many perks; however, the enjoyment that camping provides should not be put at risk by unsafe practices.
There are two specific aspects of camping which must be carefully planned out and tended to in order to minimize the chance of personal injury and harm to nature and others. The first is hiking, a means which many tent campers rely upon to reach their campsite. The other is safe protocol pertaining to the camp fire, a near-universal facet of camping trips. An earnest approach to both hiking and fire safety will help ensure that your excursion is a success.
Hiking: The Right Steps
Hike Safe specializes in informing the public of safe hiking methods. The makings of a safe, scenic hike begin with planning and packing. Essentials pertaining to the hike include a compass, map, safety whistle, appropriate and sturdy footwear, warm clothing, water, protein-packed food, a jacket for rain and cold, a flashlight, and more.
It is also advised that you plan your hike well in advance of the trip, consulting park rangers or other authorities to ensure that the trail is clear and free of any obstacles or recent changes in terrain. Leave your hike plan with somebody you trust who will not be going on the trip, informing them of your planned route, expected time of travel, and plans in case of emergency.
It is recommended that hikers stay in pairs or larger groups, avoiding separation from their companions; however, those who choose to hike solo should adhere to these tips and the concerns which come with a solo hiking and/or camping trip.
Drinking alcohol before hiking is strongly discouraged, as attentiveness to where one is placing their feet as they hike is of the utmost importance. This is necessary to avoid both changes in the terrain – which may result in sprained ankles – and stepping on wildlife which may pose a threat.
Fire Safety: What Would Smokey Do?
In certain regions, wildfires are a very real threat. Campers must always be prepared for the worst-case scenario, which means knowing how to prevent wildfires as well as how to react should they be confronted with an existing one.
Most campers will find the prevention of wildfires most relevant, as safe fire practices should be adhered to by everybody who goes camping. Smokey the Bear serves as one of the foremost authorities when it comes to campfire safety, and his tips for choosing a fire pit location, preparing the pit, and controlling the fire once it gets going are wise.
If conditions are abnormally dry, it may be best not to light a fire at all; however, if fire-building is to occur, finding an existing fire pit is ideal. If a new pit is required, find a spot without low-lying or adjacent foliage, line the circular pit with rocks, and keep nearby a large water source while removing any flammable objects from the vicinity.
Once the fire is started, maintain vigilance as to its size, avoiding the addition of excess firewood once it comes to a steady burn. Ensure that those playing games do not come near the fire, and before going to bed, ensure that the fire is out and any smoldering logs are extinguished. In the morning, douse the fire pit with water and sweep your debris, as the party after you may not do so, resulting in an unnecessary fire hazard.
Safety First, Safety for All
So many wildfires have been caused by irresponsible campfire practices that Outside has called for the end of the campfire. Unfortunately, such a proposal is due mainly to unsafe camping practices by those who did not take the time to engage in campfire safety. It is imperative that one know when not to start a campfire, and if they do, how to adhere to behaviors that ensure the fire stays contained. In combination with hiking safety, the rules surrounding proper maintenance of a campfire must be exercised if a camping trip is to be regarded as a successful one.
Jamie Strand is an unashamed nerd. He teaches community college and loves spending time with his two daughters. He wants to share his love of science and math with kids today and that’s why he and a friend got together to create Scicamps.org.