We took an informal poll around the office the other day to find out which of us are the outdoorsy types, and which of us prefer a staycation. Turns out, there are a couple of big time campers right here at Rocky Law. But camping is getting more and more dangerous it seems, which means that fewer of us are actually out there enjoying the experience.

So we thought we’d give you a few safety tips that could help you get back into the great outdoors. Whether you’re taking a day trip to T.O. Fuller near Memphis or roughing it for a weekend at Harrison Bay near Chattanooga, here are a few steps to keep you safe from injury:

  • Pack bug spray. Mosquitos carry all sorts of diseases, including West Nile. Make sure you have enough protection to keep the bugs away.
  • Don’t roll around in the dirt too much. There were nine cases of Hantavirus at Yosemite National Park this year, and three of them were fatal. Hantavirus is spread through rodent feces, and you can’t keep rodents out of a forest. Your best bet is to sweep your campsite clean before you use it, and to avoid unnecessary contact with the dirt. If you can’t do that, then….
  • Wash your hands frequently. Keep some hand sanitizer close by, too. This way to can prevent the spread of germs from your hands to the rest of your body.
  • Look into what kind of animals are nearby. As a general rule, we’d recommend not picking a park with a lot of bears. It seems a little silly to say it that way, but a hungry bear can do a lot of damage to you and your property. If there are a lot of wild animals where you’re camping, make sure to keep your campsite clean, and to keep your food in a safe storage container.
  • Watch out for your kids. It’s tragic, but a lot of children drown in lakes and rivers each year. Keep an eye on your children at all times, especially near water.
  • Put that fire out. An out-of-control campfire can quickly because a raging wildfire. Make sure you have plenty of sand and water nearby, and extinguish your fire when you’re leaving the site or when you’re going to bed.
  • Tell someone where you are. Your phones may not work in the campsite, and your GPS until may prove useless. Let someone know where you’re going to be and for how long you plan on staying, and make plans to contact that person when you return home.
  • Drive safely. If you bring an ATV or a motorcycle to the campgrounds, it’s vital that you drive safely. The woods can get pretty dark, and you don’t want a head-on collision with a tree or another rider that could hurt you.

We love spending time outside (well, most of us do) and we want you to avoid an injury while you’re enjoying the fresh air. Always pack sunscreen, a first aid kit and plenty of fresh water before any outdoor excursion, too.

Happy trails!