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  • Summer Camp: How to Stay Safe Outdoors

  • After being cooped up inside for the long, snowy winter, the urge to get up and get outside takes hold as the temperature rises. But before you dust off your tent and unroll your sleeping bag, follow these steps to be a safe and happy camper.

    • CampDon't Let the Bad Bugs Bite: Bug season bites, but you do have some defenses against insect attacks. Mosquitos, ticks and other pesky pests are not only bothersome, but can also carry disease. In order to keep the bugs at bay, apply insect repellent to exposed skin and clothing. If the temperature allows, wear long sleeves, pants and light-colored clothing to help you to spot ticks more easily.
    • Take a Hike: If you are hiking to your destination, or planning an outing for the day, be sure to walk in the mornings and evenings when it is cooler outside. Always carry a map, compass, plenty of drinking water and a whistle, which could be a lifesaver in the unlikely event that you or another member of your party becomes lost; the sound of a whistle is audible at much greater distances than the human voice.
    • Animal Control: No matter how comfortable you feel in the outdoors, don't forget that the woods are home to a variety of other inhabitants. Avoid touching, feeding or getting near wild animals, no matter how friendly they may seem. If camping at a campsite, be sure to camp near others, which will make the area less attractive to animals. If camping in the woods, set up your tent near, but not on, well-worn trails, as humans aren't the only creatures that can take a walk on the wild side.
    • Prepared Foods: Whether you are in your kitchen or cooking on a roaring campfire, the same general rules of safety apply. Make sure to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold to avoid food-borne illness and bacteria. Always cook food to a safe temperature of 140 degrees, and store perishables in a cooler with ice or ice packs.
    • Watch What You Heat: There is nothing quite like a campfire for telling stories or roasting marshmallows, but make sure you are safe before sparking a flame. Use a campfire pit away from overhead branches, and keep a bucket of water and a shovel close by. Never leave the fire unattended, and put the fire out completely before packing up camp.
    • Sunning Laws: On sunny summer days, make sure to protect yourself and your skin from potentially damaging rays. Even on cloudy days be sure to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen and lip screen with at least SPF 15. Seek shade, particularly when the sun is at its strongest, between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.
    • Great Expectations: When camping, always prepare for the unexpected. Make sure to check the weather report before leaving on your trip, and to inform family and friends of your plans. In case of emergency, stock up on supplies including first aid, a compass or portable GPS system, a flashlight with extra batteries, blankets, plenty of food and several changes of clothes.

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