Camping presents a terrific opportunity for spending time with family and friends in the great outdoors. It can also provide a welcome break from the hustle, bustle and technology of life. Yet, even in this simple environment, so much can go awry when one is unprepared. And for such a simple get-away, there is a lot to prepare.
The CDC provides some great information on Camping Health and Safety Tips along with a Packing Checklist that can help prepare you for your next camping trip. Campsafe.org also provides some terrific information on camping safety, because “it’s fun until someone gets hurt. Let’s keep it fun.”
And there certainly a lot of ways a fun camping trip can be ruined, whether through injury caused by carelessness or by happenstance. According to the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission, in 2007, more than 11,000 people required medical treatment for a camping injury, and these numbers don’t include those injured while using cots, trailers, stoves, and other camping equipment.
The most common camping injuries include bug bites, cuts, scrapes, burns and broken bones. For our focus today, let’s look at common camping injuries related specifically to the eyes.
- Foreign Object in Eye. A speck of debris or a branch in the eye is a common cause of eye injury when camping. Usually, an eye wash with a sterilized eye-wash cup takes care of the problem, but moisturizing eye drops can do the trick as well. If the problem persists, medical attention is necessary.
- Sun Exposure. Since camping takes place outdoors, a lot of time is spent in the sun. Most people fail to realize that the sun damages the eye in much the same way that it damages our skin. For this reason, wear quality sunglasses that protect against at least 99% of the sun’s harmful rays when camping.
- Fire. One of the best parts about camping is sitting around the campfire. Unfortunately, the campfire can also be a source of eye injury, often from sparks or ashes that fly through the air and even from smoke getting in the eyes. Prevent problems by not sitting too close to the fire and by being aware of any flying objects coming out of the fire.
- Insect Bites & Poison Ivy, Oak & Sumac. These elements seem like a natural part of camping and usually are treated fairly easily with calamine or other lotion. But what happens when they occur in or near the eye? First, keep hands away from eyes to help prevent problems. Second, if exposure does occur, wash the eye with lukewarm water. If exposure happens in the area round the eye, some lotions can be used near the eye and may be useful to stop itching and prevent spreading. For exposure directly in the eye itself, medical attention will likely be necessary if problems persist past this initial treatment.
Certainly, some minor eye injuries can be treated by items in a basic camping first-aid kit. For this reason, be sure to keep a sterilized eye wash cup along with some moisturizing eye drops in your camping first aid kit. But serious injuries, especially injury accompanied by pain, blurred vision or loss of vision, need immediate medical attention.
Keep camping fun and safe by having the necessary and proper equipment, keeping a well-stocked and up-to-date first aid kit, and being aware of the necessities needed to ensure a safe camping trip.