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What in the world is…outdoor safety?


With summer comes outdoor fun, camping, fishing and maybe some quality hiking time on the trails. While we’re sure to buy the right gear, plan the best travel routes and make sure the boat is in tip-top shape, one thing that might fall at the bottom of our to-do list is outdoor safety.

You may have heard about the recent uptick in bear attacks, such as the horrifying case of the 19-year-old camp counselor in Colorado that was dragged from his sleeping bag in the middle of the night, or the fatal attack of a teenager during a trail race in Alaska. Snakes are also in high season and making the news, particularly rattlesnakes. Another thing on our radar is Zika virus  as we swat away mosquitos during our summer barbecues and make travel plans to countries affected by this disease.

While you shouldn’t let fear of nature keep you from fun in the sun, there are a few things you can do to maximize your safety.

Tell bugs to buzz off

The CDC has some great resources to educate the public about Zika virus and how to avoid it, and one of those things is using insect repellents. According to the CDC, EPA-registered insect repellents are proven to help guard you against the threat of mosquito bites that can lead to Zika virus. It’s important to use these products safely and effectively—and if you want to know which repellent would be best for you, check out the EPA’s guide here.

Making travel plans? The CDC also offers a useful map so you can see which countries are at higher risks of Zika.

Don’t be a lone wolf

The US Forest Service recommends always traveling with a companion or two, and letting someone at home know your travel itinerary and other details of your adventure before you embark. If an accident happens while you’re in a remote area, you’ll need all hands on deck to aid the victim and to go for help.

You should also brush up on your first aid skills, make your camp site ready by nightfall, and always be aware of the weather conditions before you travel. Assign tasks to your travel companions to make sure you have all the supplies that you’ll need.

Respect nature

While your chances of being attacked by a wild animal are minimal (you’re more likely to be injured from simple slips and falls than by a rogue bear), it helps to do a little research before your trip—especially if you’re venturing into known bear territory. Take bear spray and

Always be respectful of nature and “watch your step”: Rattlesnakes rarely go out of their way to bite humans unless provoked, but an accidental step or startling movement can cause bites. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife has a great guide for practicing snake safety and awareness.

Stay properly fueled

Be sure to stay hydrated on the trails (or anywhere your sense of adventure takes you), and pack plenty of nutritious and healthy snacks so your body can have the energy to keep you moving.

Be shady

Perhaps one of the most important things to remember about outdoor safety is protecting yourself not just from animals, but from the sun! Sunscreen is an invaluable addition to your safety toolbox this summer—it’ll not only help protect you from skin cancer, but also save you a lot of pain if you’re spending a lot of time outdoors. There’s nothing worse than having a sunburn ruin the rest of a vacation or camping trip!

And don’t forget about your peepers. Sunglasses are important, too.

So while you’re planning your summer adventures, be sure to take time to practice outdoor safety. A little bit of common sense, planning and respect for nature goes a long way. Enjoy!

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