Planning ahead is the key to staying healthy and safe when you go hiking or camping, experts say.
“‘Be prepared’ is the Boy Scout motto, and it is one of the best ways to avoid pitfalls and make the most of any hiking or camping trip,” said Dr. Jonathan Adams, a family medicine physician with Penn State Health Medical Group in State College, Pa.
Check the weather forecast before heading into the outdoors so you can pack the proper clothing. Learn about security at your destination, and tell family and friends about your plans.
Food safety is another important consideration.
“Packing food safely can minimize foodborne disease and keep everyone happy,” Adams said in a Penn State news release.
Pack food in a tight, waterproof container, preferably an insulated cooler. Keep raw foods separate from cooked items, and store at appropriate temperatures, he advised.
It’s also important to have plenty of clean water for cooking and drinking. You can carry your water or use purifying methods such as boiling, chlorine tablets or specialized filtration. Don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink.
Your supplies should include a first aid kit, compass or GPS, map, flashlight, blankets, batteries, food, water, clothes, sun protection and medications. Know whom at the camp or trail to contact about problems, Adams said.
Wear appropriate clothing to help prevent insect bites and stings, said Adams’ colleague, Dr. Christopher Heron. “Long-sleeve shirts and pants can help keep insects from biting. Light-colored clothing helps to spot ticks,” he said.
Heron, who is also a family medicine doctor, also recommended using an EPA-registered insect repellent.
“DEET, picaridin and lemon eucalyptus oil are a few of the readily available agents that tell bugs to head somewhere else,” he said. “Treat clothes with permethrin 0.05 percent to help keep ticks and other bugs at bay.”
Check for and remove ticks during and after any outdoor activity.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers camping safety tips.