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Camping and hiking can be a great adventure for both young and old. Spend time watching the trees sway in the wind, a bird fly across the sky; simply sit back and relax. The possibilities can be endless, but only if precautions are taken to avoid simple mistakes that could end the adventure prematurely.
You never know what might happen. Jimmy could cut his hand while setting up the tent. Dad could fall while hiking up a steep hill. You will want to be prepared to disinfect and bandage up any wounds to avoid a serious infection.
Know what everyone is allergic to when you plan your next camping or hiking adventure. If your daughter is allergic to bees, you will want to make sure there are no bee nests near your campsite. If someone in the group is prone to bad allergy reactions to pollen, try to avoid camping or hiking when the pollen count is high. As a back up, you may want to consider bringing along an Epi-Pen in case there is a severe allergic reaction and you are unable to get medical attention right away.
When getting ready to set up camp, be sure to check the ground for glass, sharp objects and anything else that could be potentially dangerous. Look for signs of wild animals. If you see evidence that a bear, mountain lion or other potentially dangerous animal frequents your camping location, you may want to look elsewhere to avoid an unfavorable encounter.
Make sure to pack lots of clothing that can be worn in light layers. Light layers are the best way to stay warm as air trapped between the layers heats up and keeps you warm.
Be sure to have plenty of sunscreen on to avoid the harmful rays of the sun and lots of fresh water to keep everyone hydrated.
When planning where to set up camp, it is best to seek an area on high land with a slight tilt. That way if it rains, water will run off and not pool in your campsite. Also look for trees and other brush to block prevailing winds.
Teach kids and new hikers to recognize landmarks. Look back every so often to get a sense of where you are. If the trail you are hiking would be hard to backtrack consider using cairns - rock piles or other such markers that can be used to navigate the path.
Have a plan in case someone gets lost. Wear whistles and give three short blows when lost and then stay put. The sound of the whistle will carry farther than the human voice and staying put will increase the odds of being found quickly.
Classify all freshwater from streams and lakes as contaminated. It is better to be overly cautious than sick with stomach cramps and diarrhea from contaminated water. Bring along and drink bottled water or disinfect freshwater by boiling it or treating it with iodine tablets.
Always steer clear of poison ivy and poison oak. Also avoid foraging for berries and eating plants as it is often hard to distinguish between safe to ingest plants and their look-alikes.
If camping or hiking in remote areas, be sure to know the location of the nearest phone or ranger station in case of emergencies. Also consider carrying a cell phone as you might need one in a pinch.
When traveling to far out of the way and remote locations, be sure to have at least 4 people in your group. That way if someone gets hurt, one person can stay with the injured party and two people can go for help.
Hiking is great way to get outside and enjoy nature. Day hiking costs practically nothing and it is easy to get started. All you need is some comfortable shoes, adequate clothing, and some water and you can go out and explore your surroundings.
Hear the birds chirp, watch the squirrels play and try to enjoy nature without all the sounds and distractions of modern life. Because hiking is all about nature, it is important to preserve the area that you have come to hike through. There is an effort underway by hikers everywhere to Leave No Trace. That is, do not do anything to disturb or alter the environment you are in.
Anyone can Leave No Trace by simply following a few tips.
Now that you know how to Leave No Trace, get out there and explore. You never know what you might see.