Beat the Heat: How to Stay Safe on Your Summer Camping Adventure

Guest post by Michael Bourke, the co-creator of SciCamps, which is currently in its very early stages, but aims to provide people with learning resources outside of the classroom. Michael is a former boy scout and is a current lover of the outdoors and nature.

Warmer weather, longer days, no school, and vacation time make summer the perfect time of year to round up the family and head out on a camping trip. However, both summer and camping bring their own set of safety issues, so make sure you are prepared so this doesn’t become the camping trip you wish you could forget.

Keep the Wildlife at Bay
While the bear might look cute and cuddly from afar, it’s best to not get too hands on with the wildlife to avoid injury to yourself as well as the animals. While there’s nothing you can do about the critters around you – you’re in their territory – but there are a few precautions you can take to avoid drawing them in. The most common sense tip is to never feed them. Not only could being too close provoke an attack, it makes them more comfortable around humans and more likely to come back when you are least expecting it.
While on the topic of food, make sure yours is stored properly. Put food in a critter bag (any bag could do, but be ware that squirrels/birds may eat through it) and hang it from a tree; use a bear canister; or leave it in a cooler away from your tent--in the car if you're in bear country. Any food that can’t be stored should be locked in the car at night. Leftovers should be disposed of in the designated campground trashcan. If there isn’t one, trash should be stored in your vehicle, camper, or high above the ground. While you might often get a case of the midnight munchies, avoid eating in your tent or anywhere near where you will be sleeping, as the scent will attract wildlife, possibly leading to an unpleasant wake up call.
H2O or Bust
Summertime means the temperatures are ramping up, so you’ll need to make sure you and your family stay adequately hydrated to avoid dehydration. Start by doing some research prior to your trip. You should know not only where the water sources are located, but which ones are safe to drink. The water might look crystal clear, but it could be teeming with bacteria and pollution. For this reason, you should have some sort of water purification method on hand. If you find yourself without one, no worries, boiling water is a safe way to remove any nasty contaminants. Or do some shopping to fill up your gear closet.
If after researching you find that there are no water sources in the area, it will be imperative that you bring enough water to last for the duration of the trip. Use empty milk jugs to store water, and bring more than you think you’ll need. As the saying always goes, it’s better to be safe than sorry, and dehydration is a serious condition.
Let There Be Fire [burn restrictions permitting. Check here:]
What’s a camping trip without hot dogs or s’mores over a campfire? Fires are just one of the many common summer dangers to watch out for. Before you set up camp, check the fire regulations in the area as well as at the campsite. If there isn’t already an established fire pit, choose a site at least 15 feet away from trees, plants, tents, and other flammable objects and material. Use a shovel to clear the area, making sure it is downwind from the campsite.
The fire should never be left unattended, and an adult should be present around the fire at all times. While the fire might have started out small, it can quickly turn into a large blaze, so keep a bucket of water handy. Before turning in for the night, drown the fire in water, pouring until you no longer hear hissing. A good rule of thumb – if it is too hot to touch, then it is too hot to leave.
Enjoy the sweet freedom of summertime with a family camping trip. Make it one to remember by following all safety precautions. This one will certainly be one for the photo album!

Check the status of current wildfires here:

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