6 most common camping injuries and how to prevent them

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Camping is a favorite pastime in East Tennessee. It’s a great way to disconnect from our busy lives and have fun as a family, but safety is important.

Dr. Heather Edgley, emergency room physician at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital, says the six most common camping injuries are:

  • Burns – Teach kids to stay away from the campfire and never use matches. A good tip is to draw a line in dirt with a stick around the campfire. This helps kids know how far away to stay from fire. Putting out a flame does not mean you can’t get burned. Some coals stay hot for days. Always wear shoes too.  If burned, run cool water over burn, lightly apply gauze. Do not put ointments on a burn and don’t break any blisters that form. You will need to seek medical care for large burns or any burn on the fact, hands, feet or joints.
  • Drowning, Head & Extremity injuries in water – Swift moving water is common in our area. It’s important to teach kids not to enter any water on their own and to stay out of rapids. It’s common for people to be injured slipping on and getting a foot stuck under a rock in fast moving water. It’s also important to never dive into a lake.
  • Heat Exhaustion/Heat Stroke – Weather plays a major role in camping. Preparation is key. In the summer bring clothing you can layer. Keep in mind that kids can’t regulate their heat as well as adults because their sweat glands are not fully developed until adolescence. Have lots of water on hand at all times and stay hydrated. Don’t drink from lakes, rivers, streams.
  • Snake Spider and Tick Bites – Use insect repellent, check for ticks and remove immediately if found. Look for snakes near paths and give them plenty of room. If bitten by a snake, keep calm, do not cover bite, do not put any ice on bite area, do not attempt to suck out venom. Get medical care ASAP. The only cure for a poison snake bite is anti-venom serum found in most hospitals.
  • Cuts/Lacerations – Whether you scrape a knee, cut your hand with a knife or on a rock… keeping an open wound clean is key to healing and preventing infection. A first aid kit with bandages and hydrogen peroxide can help, but clean water is best to flush out the wound. Do not use river/stream water as it can contain bacteria. If you have a deep wound or you can’t stop bleeding it’s important to seek medical help.
  • Skin Ailments – Rashes caused by poison ivy can be prevented by teaching kids to identify poisonous plants and leave them alone, but it’s also a good idea to keep some anti-itch cream on hand just in case. Sunburn can be prevented by remembering to apply sunscreen liberally and often.

Edgley says prevention is key to having fun. Pack enough clothes for layering. Don’t forget your first aid kit, allergy medicine or sunscreen. Have lots of water on hand. Talk with kids about safety around fire, water, wild animals and poisonous plants. Make sure your campsite is clear of hazards like broken glass and sharp rocks.

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