Put safety in your campout

It's time for summer fun in a tent or camper. But be safety-aware, advises a local park manager.

It's time for summer fun in a tent or camper.

But be safety-aware, advises a local park manager.

Joanne Klees, of Lake City's Hok-Si-La Municipal Park and Campground , says her campground requires campers to park in a lot, which makes it safer for kids so there aren't cars driving in and out all day.

But each campground has unique benefits and potential risks, Kleessaid.

That's why it's important to call ahead.


Something important for campers, "especially if you have young kids, is to say, 'Where are the danger areas?'" Klees said.

Ask about "the needs of your children's age; what are the dangers to your specific child's age?" Klees said.

Does that campground you plan to visit have a lot of bees that are problematic for kids with insect allergies? Are restrooms or the dining hall (if there is one) wheelchair-accessible? Is the campground susceptible to flash-flooding (a particularly important thing to know this particular summer)?

"Stitches aren't uncommon; stitches, broken bones, those things happen and it really doesn't seem to be age-specific," Klees said.

Take along a first-aid kit that includes anti-itch cream, antibiotic ointment and sunscreen.

Wear mosquito repellant containing DEET to avoid west Nile virus and tick diseases. The Centers for Disease Control says to shower after being outdoors and check for ticks. Even though Hok-Si-La fogs for mosquitos, Klees advises wearing insect repellant.

"Everyone should carry first-aid kits if they're camping, and sunscreen and mosquito repellant. You should always have that," Klees said.

Also, take along baking soda to make a poultice to sooth minor burns, bee stings or mosquito bites. (Mix with a little water and dab the resulting slurry atop the affected area.)


"Talking to the staff is really helpful," Klees said. "When you're making the reservation, call the park and say, 'What are the things I should know?"

She has seen her share of camping injuries.

"One woman tripped on a root coming out of her tent," Klees said.

If someone tells you to go to the emergency room after an injury, go, she said.

If there's lightning, heavy rain or high winds, get to safety — and always monitor weather with a radio or cell phone. Keep the phone well-charged, but don't rely on it.

Tell someone where you're going, and when you plan to be back at the campsite.

"Winter, summer, fall, be prepared,"Klees said.

If wild animals approach, avoid them.


"You don't want to get close to them. They may look cute, but if they bite you might have issues. …People say, 'Oh, it's so cute,' and I'm thinking — if it's coming in to see you — that's not good," Klees said.

Fireworks and camping don't mix, Klees said.

"You've got a campground where you've got a bunch of people … so if you're doing fireworks that's not good," she said.

• Some area parks include bluffland risky for falls, which suggests campers use appropriate footwear.

• Dress kids for safety.

• "People just should be really conscious about sunscreen," Klees said.

• Ask park attendants where poison ivy grows.


• Keep campfires small to avoid spread, and keep them within fire-circle boundaries. Keep tools or sticks for roasting hotdogs and marshmallows away from fire so they do not get hot to the touch.

• If kids will be near natural waterways, or swimming in them, make sure they use life jackets. Water currents are especially strong this year due to rain runoff.

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