4 summer camping safety tips

If your family’s favorite vacation plans include hiking in the woods and singing around a campfire, you’re not alone. In 2012, 38 million Americans spent more than 516 million days camping.

To help you and your kids camp safely this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service offer these tips.

1. Know before you go. Make a family project of learning to:

• Read a compass

• Build a temporary shelter

• Cook and store food safely

• Repair gear such as bikes, backpacks or snowshoes

2. Be prepared. Never leave home without these necessities:

• A first aid kit, including the prescription medications your family needs

• Sunscreen, wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses for all

• Insect repellants: DEET for the skin and permethrin for clothes

• Working flashlights and extra batteries

• Waterproof matches

• A compass and trail maps

• One whistle per child, to wear while hiking

• High-energy food, including healthy snacks

• Fresh water or purification tablets

• Shelter, bedding, clothing and protective gear (such as helmets and lifejackets) that fit your planned activities—and the weather.

3. Leave a trail. Before heading out:

• Give someone your family’s itinerary—include your vehicle’s license plate number

• Tell that person if your plans change

4. Heed the call of the wild—safely. Once you’re there:

• Pitch tents—before dark—on flat surfaces that are well away from these hazards: cliffs; tall trees, which could be struck by lightning; streams, which could flood; poison ivy, sumac and oak; bees; and large ant colonies

• Never let kids hike or swim alone

• Be sure kids know not to leave the campsite after dark

• Never feed or approach wild animals

• Check everyone for ticks each evening. Remove ticks right away

Now, toast some marshmallows, and enjoy the stars together!

Additional source: The Outdoor Foundation

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