Camping is a favorite Southern pastime. Make it safer by planning ahead.
Campgrounds are aplenty in Tennessee. Whether you plan a trip in the Great Smoky Mountains or stay close to home at Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park, you’ll need to prepare for your family’s safety. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend the following:
1. Pack food and water: Avoid the risk of developing infectious diseases by packing water and some of our favorite camping fare: homemade trail mix, fresh fruit, tuna packets, jerky and good ol’ PB&J.
2. Find appropriate protective gear: Camping goes hand in hand with fun physical activity. Bring protective gear such as helmets, sturdy shoes and life jackets to keep your adventures safe. Head to Cumberland Transit, LifeView Outdoors or REI for help picking out the perfect equipment.
3. Double-check vaccinations: Prior to camping, check with your doctor or nurse to see if you’ve had all of the recommended vaccines you need to help protect against certain diseases and conditions.
4. Don’t forget insect repellent: Avoid mosquitoes, ticks and other disease-causing insects by applying repellent containing DEET. Check daily for ticks and if found, remove promptly. Wear long sleeves and pants as a barrier to ticks, and choose light-colored clothing to spot them more easily.
5. Shield yourself from the elements: Bring adequate bedding and clothing to stay warm and prevent hypothermia during cool nights. Also, use a plastic ground cloth under your tent to help keep you dry. On hot days, drink plenty of water. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty.
6. Protect from carbon monoxide poisoning: Never use fuel-burning equipment such as stoves, heaters, lanterns or charcoal grills within a tent, camper or other enclosed shelter. Doing so could cause dangerous levels of carbon monoxide to build up that could sicken or kill people and pets.
7. Avoid the sun: Even when it’s cloudy, you’re not immune to harmful UV rays. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen and lipscreen with at least SPF 15. Seek shade as much as possible and cover up with clothing, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses.
8. Pack two safety kits: Bring along a supply kit that includes a first-aid kit, compass or GPS, map, flashlight, blankets, batteries, nonperishable food and water, clothes and medications. Along with one in your pack, it’s always a good idea to keep a kit in your car.
9. Plan for the unexpected: Before you leave, check the weather report, learn more about security at your camp location, and tell family and friends your plans. Know what to do if toilets are not available. And learn who to contact at the camp if problems arise.
10. Watch for animals: You’re in the wild — there will be animals. Avoid touching, feeding and getting near them. Keep foods in sealed containers and out of reach of animals. If you bring pets, make sure they have plenty of water, food and shelter.
Planning your next camping trip? Find out if there is a Vanderbilt walk-in clinic near your campground in case of emergency.