Tahoe chief’s corner: 15 need-to-know outdoor Sierra safety tips
Special to the Bonanza
As we continue to enjoy the summer months and recreating outdoors, it’s always a good idea to review outdoor safety tips.
Whether you’re camping, enjoying a campfire (in designated areas only), or hiking in the backcountry, there are many ways to make sure your experience is fun and safe.
Consider the following safety tips when you are camping in the forest:
1. Pack a first aid kit: Your kit can prove invaluable if you or a member of your group suffers a cut, bee sting or allergic reaction. Pack antiseptic for cuts and scrapes, tweezers, insect repellent, bug spray, pain relievers, and sunscreen.
2. Bring emergency supplies: This includes a map, compass, flashlight, knife, waterproof fire starter, personal shelter, whistle, warm clothing, high energy food, and water.
3. Learn the ABCs of treating emergencies: Recognizing serious injuries will enable you to attend to a victim until medical help arrives.
4. Before you leave, find out the weather report: When you arrive at the site, watch the skies for changes and carry a compact weather radio. In inclement weather, find shelter until the worse passes. Stay dry — wet clothes contribute to heat loss. Also, keep sleeping bags and important gear, dry at all times.
5. Arrive early: Plan your trip so that you arrive at your actual campsite with enough daylight to check over the entire site and to set-up camp.
6. Check for potential hazards: Be sure to check the site thoroughly for glass, sharp objects, branches, large ant beds, poison ivy, bees, and hazardous terrain.
7. Avoid areas of natural hazards: Check the contour of the land and look for potential trouble due to rain. Areas that could flood or become extremely muddy can pose a problem.
8. Inspect the site: Look for a level site with enough room to spread out all your gear. Also, a site that has trees or shrubs on the side of prevailing winds will help block strong, unexpected gusts.
9. Dispose of trash properly: Remember to recycle — use the proper recycling bins if available.
10. Be cautious when using a propane stove: Read the instructions that come with the stove and propane cylinder. Use the stove as a cooking appliance only — never leave it unattended while it’s burning.
11. Watch out for bugs: Hornets, bees, wasps, and yellow jackets are a problem at many campsites. Avoid attracting stinging insects by wearing light-colored clothing and avoiding perfumes or colognes. Should such an insect approach, do not wave wildly and swat blindly — instead. use a gentle pushing or brushing motion to deter them.
12. Beware when encountering wildlife: To ward off bears, coyotes or other wildlife, keep your campsite clean, and do not leave food, garbage, coolers, cooking equipment or utensils out in the open. Remember that bears are potentially dangerous and unpredictable — never feed or approach a bear. Use a flashlight at night — many animals feed at night and the use of a flashlight may warn them away.
13. Beware of poisonous plants: Familiarize yourself with any dangerous plants that are common to the area. If you come into contact with a poisonous plant, immediately rinse the affected area with water and apply a soothing lotion such as calamine to the affected area.
14. Practice good hygiene: Make sure you wash your hands, particularly after using the toilet and before handling food, to prevent everyone in your group becoming ill.
15. Know the rules: If you plan on enjoying a recreational campfire, remember that fire restrictions on National Forest System lands in the Lake Tahoe Basin are currently in place and will remain in effect until the official end of fire season. Campfires will be restricted to certain exempted recreation sites, and other fire-related activities will be prohibited. The fire restriction Forest Order is available at http://www.fs.usda.gov/goto/ltbmu/ForestOrders.
“Chief’s Corner” is a regular feature in the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza from North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District Chief Mike Brown, offering information, tips and educational material on fire safety, emergency preparedness and other pertinent topics.