Tips for Safer Camping

             Warmer weather has now officially arrived and with it comes a dramatic rise in the number of campers seeking time away from todayís complex lifestyles.  Oftentimes, the beginning of a season is the best time to remind ourselves of what that particular season may hold for us.  With camping, it is a time to remind ourselves of the dangers that await and how to best deal with them.  In order to insure a safe and pleasant camping experience the following items must be addressed.

            As our group learned last spring, it is vital to be able to keep tabs on the weather.  Spring, in particular, is a time of great turbulence in the atmosphere which can produce strong thunderstorms with little or no warning.  Todayís technology can afford campers the chance to check in on the weather via weather radios, cellular phones, or traditional radios.  One additional thing to keep in mind here is your camping cohorts.  Gentlemen, I can attest that your wives wonít find great pleasure in sitting in a small tent and waiting for a break in the monsoon.

            The vegetation that inhabits the forest can also be of concern.  In particular, poison ivy can make you regret the day that you first stepped out into nature.  Prior to going camping, make sure that you and your friends can identify poison ivy by sight.  Once you are able to spot it youíll find the ensuing days much more enjoyable.  Few things are as miserable as the constant itching and burning associated with poison ivy.

            By far, my biggest fear when entering the woods is the snakes.  I take caution with every step making sure that Iíve surveyed the patch of ground where I intend to set my foot down.   However, as I learned last year, snakes are very good at the art of deception and often youíll overlook them even if youíre staring directly at them.  The biggest health concern with snakes is the potential of being bitten by a poisonous snake. Thus, it is always important to carry a snake bite kit.  It is also important to be able to identify different snakes.  The last thing you want to do is get bitten by a copperhead and dismiss it thinking that it was just a little king snake. 

            Another pesky creature associated with camping is a tick.  Usually, they are large enough that you can spot them quickly and remove them before they start to bite you.  However, they can become stuck.  If you find one stuck on you I recommend taking a credit card and scraping it off.  Iíve heard lots of different methods but this seems to be the most dependable.  Also, keep in mind that all ticks are not large.  The Morrow Mountain area seems to be the center of the deer tick world.  These ticks are smaller than a sesame seed and can cause significant itching and burning as well. 

            One final concern before heading out into the woods is sunburn.  Many of us spent our childhoods completely ignoring any concern about the sun.  We thought sunburn was a necessary evil of spending too much time outdoors.  However, it seems every year there is new information relating sunburn to skin cancer and other health ailments.  Thus, there is no sense in getting burnt anymore.  A little sun block will go a long way towards making you camping trip much more enjoyable.