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Safety tips & tricks when camping next to water

Most people love camping, especially in South Africa with our mild climate.

But camping near water has some challenges. Insects might be more abundant, and you must take precautions to prevent bug bites. Wildlife, like snakes or small rodents, might also be more active around water, so you must remain vigilant. Additionally, sudden weather changes or rain might cause water levels to rise, leading to flooding risks.

But don’t let these challenges discourage you from getting your gear together, packing your vehicle, and heading out to the nearest dam! You can have a safe and unforgettable family camping holiday next to the water with some preparation and proper gear.

Here’s a list of some safety tips and tricks to keep in mind:

#1 Water Purification

We recommend purifying water before consuming it or using it in cooking, as most natural water sources pose a health risk. Boiling water for a minimum of one minute, using water purification tablets, or utilising a portable water filter are all viable options for water purification.

#2 Water Safety

Be careful when swimming or wading in the water, no matter how attractive it looks. Get a feel for the water’s depth, potential dangers like crocodiles or hippos, and any strong currents. Never go kayaking or boating without a life jacket, and never swim alone.

#3 Stay Hydrated

It is easy to neglect getting enough water when you are involved in exciting outdoor activities. Particularly in hot weather, drink water often throughout the day.

Soda is a drink, so let’s talk about that. Although it may be tempting to have a drink or two when camping, it’s best to abstain from alcohol altogether.

Drunk driving increases the risk of accidents near bodies of water because it impairs judgement and coordination. Plus, it prevents you from remaining hydrated, which is absolutely crucial during this time.

#4 Insect Repellent

Applying an effective insect repellent to exposed skin will help keep those bothersome pests, especially mosquitoes, at bay. Another thing that can help is to wear long pants and sleeves when the mosquitoes are most active.

Also, to set the mood and keep the pests at bay, bring citronella candles or lanterns made of insect repellent. And they make your camping setup more inviting.

You could also bring some DIY bug spray. Make your own delightful-smelling insect repellent by combining the essential oils of citronella, eucalyptus, or lavender with a carrier oil such as coconut or witch hazel.

In addition, make sure you have mosquito nets for your camping hammock or tent. These will keep pesky insects at bay while you soak in the scenery and enjoy a peaceful night’s sleep.

#5 Snake Awareness

Learn about the local snake species and their habits. Avoid reaching into tall grass or rocks without looking. Look where you step before you step when walking in the bush. Make sure you give snakes plenty of space to avoid surprises.

#6 Weather Awareness

Before and throughout your vacation, make sure to keep an eye on the weather forecasts. In the event of heavy rain or storms, be ready for unexpected shifts in the weather.

Bring the necessary equipment to brave inclement weather with ease. If you want to be prepared for rain, make sure to bring tents and tarps that are either waterproof or water-resistant.

Ponchos and raincoats are additional layers of clothes that can come in handy. Pack one in for each member of the family.

Take watertight containers to store your belongings and ensure that your tent is securely fastened. The key is to always be prepared, no matter what Mother Nature brings your way.

#7 Campfire Safety

If you plan to build a campfire, build it in a designated fire ring or pit. Keep a bucket of water nearby to extinguish the fire completely when you’re done.

#8 Emergency Kit

Pack a well-stocked first-aid kit and know how to use it. Include pain pills, allergy creams, bandages, antiseptic wipes, plasters, and your own necessary medications.

#9 Know what services are available

Do some research before your trip to know where assistance is available. Knowing where the local hospital is located and how to get there could save precious time. If you’re camping during fire danger season, take some time to work out your evacuation plan.

Many camping spots next to the water have no or limited mobile phone coverage. Have a look at your network’s coverage map to work out where you can go to make an emergency phone call if you need to. It’s also a good idea to let friends and family know of your plans and when you expect to be home.

Avoid getting lost by having access to maps, especially if you are heading out on bushwalks. If your signal is bad and you can’t use your phone’s GPS, ensure that you have a map of the area.

#10 Be aware of any risks around your tent

Before you drive the first tent peg into the ground or manoeuvre your caravan into place when you’ve reached your campsite, look around and think about the dangers in the region before you do anything.

Stay away from camping under big gum trees. Large branches can fall from some trees at any moment. Having a limb fall on your tent in the dead of night is the last thing anyone wants.

If it were to rain, you would want to know where the water would go. Stay away from areas where water can collect, such as creek beds and ditches, when camping.

You should think about positioning your campsite away from rivers, creeks, or steep drop-offs if you intend to bring youngsters camping.

Also, be wary of anthills at all times! Arranging your tent atop a swarm of irate ants is an unpleasant experience.

We hope the above will help you prepare for an exciting camping trip by the water, thanks to these safety guidelines. It is a good idea to always bring appropriate camping gear, practice safe outdoor habits, and savour every moment spent in nature.

Happy camping!

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