Preventing Injuries while Camping in Ontario

Edited by Admin
Preventing Injuries while Camping in Ontario

Camping Safety Tips

Canadians love the great outdoors! In fact, it’s estimated that approximately 20% of Canadians go camping each year. Most of us enjoy our time in the wilderness and return home safe and sound. But there are many hazards when camping, and accidents can happen. Here are some things to consider when you’re getting ready for your nature adventure!

  • Don’t Get Lost! First, make sure you tell someone else where you plan to go, and when you plan to come back. If you plan to hike or explore, or to camp in the back country, it makes sense to map out your route ahead of time, and to let people know when they should expect you to return. Be sure to bring along everything you may need: compass, phone and charger, and maps. Even if you only plan to stay at a campsite in a park, it’s easy for kids to lose their bearings and get lost. Equip your junior rovers with whistles to blow, and walkie-talkies so they can be reached when it’s time to roast marshmallows.

  • Be Prepared. Always bring a first-aid kit with you, and refill it after each camping trip. Even a minor injury can become a medical emergency if left untreated. Be sure that you know what to do in the case of common problems, and keep track of where the nearest medical facilities are located.

  • Sun. Watch all family members carefully to make sure they practice sun safety. Reapply  sunscreen regularly while outdoors, even if it’s an overcast day. Wear a hat and sunglasses. Sun-guard clothing can also help to protect skin from damaging UV rays. If possible, stay out of the sun during peak hours.

  • Food and Drink. Ensure that your water source is safe, or treat it carefully to make it potable. Boiling may be sufficient in some cases, but portable water treatment systems are also available. If you’re at a campsite, watch for signs that indicate where safe drinking water is located. Camping conditions may also make it difficult to maintain the safety of some foods; it’s hard to control the temperature of food in a cooler, for example. Don’t eat food that may have been spoiled, and try to bring food that’s easy to preserve. When you’re cooking meat on the campfire, make sure it’s cooked through.

  • Animals. From ticks to bears, encounters with animals while camping can be frightening. Fortunately, most wild animals avoid contact with humans whenever possible. First, practice campsite safety. Don’t leave food or dishes out; this attracts animals and causes problems for everyone in the area. Don’t feed wild animals; this can have bad consequences for them and for you. In addition, know what to do in various situations. If you’re in “bear country” for example, learn how to store food safely, and what to do if you encounter a bear. If you’re in an area where rattlesnakes are nesting, learn how to identify (and avoid) poisonous snakes. If you get a tick bite, know how to remove the tick and watch for the signs of Lyme disease. Take an antihistamine with you in case of an allergic reaction to bees or other insects.

  • Plants. Plants can also cause problems for campers. Learn how to recognize poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac. If you’re hiking through areas where these might be present, wear socks and shoes that cover areas that could be affected. If you intend to eat berries, mushrooms, or other food you find, be sure that you know what you’re doing. Many poisonous mushrooms are near-identical to edible ones, for example.

  • Fire Safety. Pay attention to any fire bans that may be in place. Build safe campfires, and never leave a fire unattended. Keep water on hand to douse any campfire that gets out of control. In addition, don’t bring your own wood from one area to another; it can introduce invasive species into an area. Whenever children are present, teach them to respect the dangers of fire, and never leave them unsupervised near the flames. Always make sure that your campfire is completely extinguished before leaving an area.

  • Be Ready for Extreme Weather. Bear in mind that you may encounter lightning, high winds, hail, heat, cold, or other extreme weather conditions, and have a plan in place. Even if you are camping in summer, nights in a tent can be chilly, so bring sleeping bags or blankets that will keep you warm. When you set up your tent, try to place it in an area where it will be sheltered from wind, and not susceptible to flooding in case of heavy rains.

  • Your Vehicle. Before heading into the wild, make sure that your vehicle is in good shape, and that you have sufficient gas. Check tires, oil, and gas levels.

For more safety tips and camping hints, visit Parks Canada’s website. Some of the best memories are made camping! Make sure all of yours are good ones.