After months of being cooped up, many Americans are hitting the road and heading into the great outdoors to go camping. But with the COVID-19 outbreak spreading in the United States, we wanted to share some important safety tips for a fun and safe getaway.
Be realistic. Large groups make social distancing difficult. And many campgrounds are limiting the number of people who can be in the same campground area. Go with a small group and travel in separate vehicles if you haven’t been in close quarters with each other. Plan on having a separate tent for each household or group who has been socially distancing together. Don’t share a tent with someone who hasn’t been socially distancing.
Be distant. Avoid crowded trails and campgrounds. Be wary of camp showers and restrooms. COVID-19 is thought to spread between people who are in close contact with each other (closer than six feet) via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. Know that the virus may be spread by people who are not showing symptoms. And it’s possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a contaminated surface or object and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes.
Bring your mask. Ideally, you’ll be traveling with other people in your household or others who have been socially distancing. You’ll want to wear a mask, take separate cars, use separate tents, cook separate meals and/or stay at least six feet apart from anyone who hasn’t been socially distancing. Wear a mask when you stop for fuel and use public restrooms. Bring hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes to keep surfaces in your vehicle and camp area as clean as possible. Use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol and isn’t on this list of recalled sanitizers!
Bring your supplies. Pack everything you’re going to need or want to minimize the amount of time you spend in convenience stores and other retail outlets along the way. If you’re traveling with other people, it’s a good idea to have everyone bring their own food and consider having each family unit cook their own meals. Forget the family-size snacks; opt for single-serve packages. Bring plenty of water.
Many commercial cleaning and sanitizing products are in short supply or unavailable. You can use a bleach solution to disinfect surfaces. (Just make sure to keep bleach and the cleaning solution out of reach of children.) Prepare a bleach solution by mixing 5 tablespoons (1/3 cup) bleach per gallon of room temperature water or 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of room temperature water. Bleach solutions will be effective for disinfection for up to 24 hours.
Prepare for all kinds of weather. We all know that weather is unpredictable. It’s a good idea to bring clothing, shoes and gear in the event that it’s unexpectedly rainy and/or cold. Camping in an area that could quickly turn to mud if it starts to pour? Make sure to bring your boots. Load up on tarps, extra stakes and bungee cords in case of high winds or heavy rain. Pack sunscreen, sunglasses, sun-protective clothing and short sleeves for when it gets hot. And make sure you have plenty of water! It might take a little extra time to pack, but you can never be too prepared.
Bring enough sources of light. One of the best parts about camping is that you’re off the grid. That’s why you never can have too many sources of light. Make sure to bring at least three lanterns, flares (in case of an emergency), lighter fluid, matches and even fire starters just to be safe. Make sure you have spare batteries for any battery-powered items.
Keep close tabs on small children. It can be difficult for small children who wander off to find their way back to you. Monitor small children to make sure they stay safe around fire and water and also around any disinfection/sanitizing supplies.