Outdoor Safety Tips

camping

Outdoor Safety Tips

March roared in like a lion in many parts of the U.S. and April continued to be unseasonably cold. Eventually, summer weather will be here, and with that comes a surge in outdoor activities. These activities bring the potential for getting bitten by mosquitoes, suffering sports- and recreational-related injuries, becoming dehydrated, and getting exposed to the powerful rays of the sun, which over time can increase your risk of skin cancer.

Facts and Stats

  • More than 100 million Americans ride a bike, although many do so only now and then. So it is not surprising that more than 535,000 bicycle-related injuries are treated at U.S. hospital emergency rooms every year.
  • In small towns and big cities across the U.S., 17.5 million people every year—from youngster to seniors—enjoy playing baseball and softball. These sports contribute to more than 265,000 emergency room visits annually.
  • Up to three-fourths of Americans drink fluids well below the recommended levels. Excessive dehydration is associated with serious health problems, but even mild dehydration can cause headaches, irritability, poorer physical performance, and reduced cognitive functioning.
  • Pesky mosquitoes not only can make you itch and scratch, but may also carry the dreaded West Nile Virus. Further, experts are now suggesting that mosquitoes carrying the Zika virus may threaten cities as far north as San Francisco and New York this summer.

Following a few simple prevention measures can help ensure that a good time is not ruined when you are participating in outdoor activities. More importantly, playing it safe can help prevent potentially life-threatening injuries, dehydration, skin cancer, and mosquito-borne illnesses.

Recreational Activities

  • Buy and use a bike helmet approved by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) or Snell every time you ride. The helmet must fit correctly and be worn properly to be effective.
  • Do not text or talk on your cell phone while biking.
  • Avoid uneven or unpaved surfaces while biking or rollerblading.
  • Wear bright colors when riding. If you must ride at dusk or night, wear clothing that reflects light. Install reflectors on the front and rear of your bike, and use a headlight.
  • Do not dive in water less than 12 feet deep or in above-ground pools.
  • Do not drink alcohol when participating in any water sports including boating.
  • Follow all rules and warning signs at water parks, swimming pools, and public beaches.

General Outdoor Activities

  • If you are engaging in any physical activity, whether gardening or exercise, make sure you properly hydrate. Sports drinks with electrolytes are especially helpful if you are exercising for at least an hour.
  • Apply about one ounce of sunscreen with an SPF of 30 to 50, 15 minutes before going outdoors, but remember to reapply every two hours. Also wear a wide brim hat and sunglasses if you are gardening or sunbathing.
  • Supervise young children at all times—on the playground, swimming pools, your own backyard, or while camping.

Mosquito Bite Prevention

  • Use insect repellents whenever you go outdoors. Repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, and some oil of lemon eucalyptus and para-menthane-diol products provide longer-lasting protection. Click here for alternative ways to make natural insect repellants.
  • Wear long sleeves and pants from dusk through dawn when many mosquitoes are most active.
  • Install or repair screens on windows and doors. If you have air conditioning, use it.
  • Empty standing water from containers such as flowerpots, gutters, buckets, pool covers, pet water dishes, discarded tires, and birdbaths. This will help reduce the number of mosquitoes.

Camping Safety

In addition to the above tips, there are a few other safety tips that campers should follow to ensure a fun time is had by all.

  • Pack a well-stocked first aid kit with everything you might need away from home.
  • Consider purchasing one of many pre-made survival kits, which can save you time and money.
  • Never approach or feed wild animals.
  • Watch where you sit or walk—spiders, lizards, snakes, poison ivy and other potentially dangerous things may be prevalent at campsites.
  • Do not hike alone—take a friend, compass, water, snacks, matches, and a flashlight.
  • Be prepared to leave the campground or go to a shelter if violent weather is approaching. A weather radio is a worthwhile item to bring with when you go camping because weather can rapidly change.
  • Give each child a whistle and have them wear waterproof ID bracelets. Never let them hike, swim, or go anywhere alone.
  • Listen to Smokey the Bear and practice fire safety at all times.
  • Always keep your food cold to prevent spoilage and food poisoning.

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