Camping With Care: Essential Safety Tips

For many people in the PNW, summer is the season for camping. It's a chance to get away from busy workdays to spend special time together with family or friends. Make the most out of your next adventure by following these tips to keep everyone safe and comfortable at your campsite.


Food Safety

  • Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. It is important to cook and reheat foods to a safe temperature (ground beef needs to be cooked to at least 160 degrees F.) Properly store perishable foods that require refrigeration. Food left out for more than 2 hours at room temperature can rapidly begin to develop harmful bacteria.
  • Wash your hands, utensils and all surfaces before eating and preparing food. The outdoors can be an unclean environment where bacteria can spread easily, so always bring soap, water, clean towels and hand sanitizer.
  • Drink safe water only. Don’t drink water directly from lakes or streams, and instead bring your own purified water, use purification tablets or boil water before you drink it.
  • Prevent cross-contamination bacteria from raw meat and poultry. Always wash your hands after handling raw meat and use separate platters and utensils to cook and move them. Every year, one in six Americans becomes ill from eating contaminated food.


Fire Safety

  • Use the campsite’s pre-dug fire pits. If they do not have one, dig a small pit away from overhanging branches and plant-life, and circle the pit with rocks.
  • Ensure a 10-foot radius around the fire pit and clear it of tents, chairs, food and other debris.
  • Keep a bucket of water and a shovel nearby, and never leave the fire burning without someone watching it. Always put the flames out before going to sleep or heading out.
camping safety infographic

Wildlife Safety

  • Know how to identify poison ivy, oak and sumac. Always wash your body with soap and water, or wipe-off with towelettes, after hiking through thick foliage to remove the oil that causes the rashes from your skin.
  • Eliminate odors from food, clothing and supplies. Trash is not the only thing that will attract a bear. Toothpaste, lotion, deodorant, bug sprays and clothing you’ve worn while cooking can also attract bears. Always ensure these items are secured in a trash or food storage container or hang them all in a bag between two trees at least 10 feet from your campground.
  • Stock up on bear spray, flashlights and air-tight containers. Make sure to gather information about the area you are in to get familiar with the surrounding wildlife.


General Summer Safety

  • Stay hydrated and drink water regularly throughout the day, even if you are not thirsty. Your emergency kit should always include a five-day supply of bottled water.
  • Protect your skin from the sun by using sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. We also recommend wearing a hat and sunglasses.
  • Use insect protection, like bug spray and long-sleeve shirts, to repel ticks, mosquitoes and other insects. Ticks need to be removed as soon as possible to prevent possible disease infection.

By sticking to these safety tips, you and your family and friends will have a safe and fun camping adventure. Should you encounter a minor injury or illness while camping, your local Immediate Clinic can help you feel better! We treat a range of medical problems -- from insect bites and sunburns to poison ivy rashes and more. Learn more about what we treat.