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The weather is warming up, making camping season right around the corner. Whether you are a seasoned veteran or a first time camper, follow these guidelines for a safe and enjoyable camping experience:
KNOW THE AREA
Make sure you are familiar with the area to which you are traveling. Refer to other campers who have camped at the same location, read guidebooks and contact park rangers for information on your desired campsite. Take the time to plan and anticipate any potential occurrences that may arise.
LEARN YOUR LANDMARKS
Be familiar with "landmarks" around your campsite and surrounding areas and trails. If you have children with you during your camp, make sure they are familiar as well and teach them to stay calm and stay in one place in the event they get lost. You and any children should always use the buddy system.
WATCH FOR POISONOUS PLANTS
It is important to be able to identify common poisonous plants like posion oak, posion ivy and sumac. Before your trip, study pictures and pack protective products, long sleeve shirts and pants to produce a barrier against the plant oils.
BUGS BE GONE
Bring citronella candles and citronella-based products to keep insects away from your campsite. Be carefull of repellents containing DEET, as they can be toxic if not used properly or in excessive amounts.
KEEP YOUR CAMPSITE CLEAN
When camping, pack your food in resealable plastic bags and animal-resistant containers. At night, make sure to pack all of your food in your vehicle to keep your campsite free of food odors. Never bring food into your tent. it is also important to never approach or attempt to feed wild animals, as they can become easily threatened, defensive and aggressive.
PRACTIC FIRE SAFETY
Do not build your campfire near overhanging tree branches and keep a metal fire ring or circle of rocks around the fire to prevent the fire from spreading. Keep a bucket of water and shovel nearby and never leave the the fire unattended. Before you leave your campsite or go to sleep make sure the fire is completely out.
DON'T DRINK THE WATER
Assume that any nearby stream or creek has contaminated water. Bring a water purification system, purifying tablets or bottle water.
HEED THE SUN
Use sunscreen and lip balms with adequate SPF to limit your exposure to UV radiation. Apply liberally and often, as swimming, sweating and many outdoor activities require several applications to maintain even the most minimal and constant protection. Also bring hats, sunglasses and SPF-rated clothing for additional protection. Keep in mind the sun's peak UV exposure hours are between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Regardless if the temperature is warm or cold, it is easy to underestimate how much fluid is required to stay adequately hydrated.
Bring shoes that are broken in, comfortable and the correct size that are appropriate for your planned activities. Bring a back up pair in the event your shoes get wet. It's a good idea to dress in layers