Staying out do trouble in the great outdoors

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Shawn Turcotte
  • 21st Space Wing safety office
Are you tired of dealing with indoor plumbing, air conditioning and having to sleep in a comfortable bed? If so, camping is probably your arena. Every year thousands of Americans head into the great outdoors in order to get back to nature. Well, before you head for the hills, you need to do some planning. 

When selecting a place to camp, try to find somewhere close enough that you can arrive and not have to set up camp by the glow of your headlights. fter choosing your destination, it's a good idea to watch the weather forecast for that vicinity. It may tell you that rain ponchos, galoshes or maybe a parka should be part of your wardrobe. Here are a few items that should be standard in every camper's kit include: 

1) First-aid kit
2) Flashlight with extra batteries
3) A Swiss Army type knife
4) Insect repellent
5) Snake bite kit
6) Lighter
7) Sunscreen
8) Hydrocortisone cream (for possible encounters with poison ivy) 

These are only a few of the items you will need. Your inventory should include anything you may need to make your outing safe and enjoyable. 

No matter how well you have planned your getaway, unforeseen problems can always arise. Your tent may catch fire, possibly from the embers of a too closely-placed campfire or a camping stove. Also, remember that using a heater or gas lantern inside of a tent is not only dangerous due to the obvious fire hazard, but even more deadly, is carbon monoxide due to its undetectable nature. The safe alternative is a warmer sleeping bag and a battery powered fluorescent lantern. 

Other hazards you may encounter are the full time residents of your chosen campsite, the insects and wildlife. The best way to keep uninvited guest out of your campsite is to keep it clean. Bears and other furry creatures will take unsecured food and garbage as an open invitation to join your party. 

Snakes are another problem, normally if you avoid snakes, they will try to avoid you. Nevertheless, you may unwittingly corner or even step on one that is poisonous. To minimize this possibility try not to step or place your hands on a surface you can't see. You should also wear hiking boots and long pants when hiking and stick to established paths and trails. 

Remember to keep safety in mind and as the old Boy Scout adage goes, "Be prepared."