Before you become one with nature, become one with nature’s rules.
Here’s how you can stay as safe as possible on your next outdoor adventure:
- Familiarize yourself. Know the closest towns and nearest hospitals, just in case of an emergency.
- Set up camp. If you’re tenting, get settled on level ground, and avoid any rocks or branches that could puncture the material. Keep the tent at least 30 feet away from the fire — preferably upwind so it won’t fill with smoke. And of course, if you’re staying on a cliff or mountain, steer clear of any edges.
- Store your food safely. The safest spot to store any food is in a sealed, waterproof container at the edge of your campsite — not in your tent. If food has to be kept cold, be sure to constantly replenish the ice.
- Avoid insects and animals. Always wear bug spray, and never approach a wild animal (no matter how cute, fluffy and friendly it may seem).
- Be weather wise. If you hear thunder, you should seek shelter… and your tent doesn’t count. Hearing thunder means you’re within 10 miles of a storm, so try to find a large building or get back to your car as soon as possible.
- Light your fire the right way. First, clear the area of all debris, and make sure there aren’t any overhanging branches. Don’t use any flammable liquids to light it, and build it only as big as you need.
- Stay focused on your fire. Never leave your fire unattended, and don’t leave it burning while you’re sleeping. Be sure to completely extinguish the fire whenever you’re turning in or leaving camp.
- Remember to bring the essentials. Your collection of camping gear simply won’t be complete without a first-aid kit and a flashlight.
Not quite sure where to camp? Take a peek at our complete guide to the national parks near you.