The complete guide to staying safe and healthy on the campsite
It’s easy to let hygiene standards slip on holiday without even realising it. But, in the current environment, health and safety matters even more than ever.
The risk of Covid-19 has introduced a whole new world of safety measures we all need to consider in day-to-day life – and these are just as important when you’re camping.
But just because we’re all focusing on staying alert to coronavirus, we shouldn’t forget the basics of health and safety.
Food preparation and storage standards must be maintained. Away from the domestic kitchen with its sink, hot water and fridge/freezer, you need to think a little harder about storing food and how you handle it. Dealing with food poisoning is bad enough in a domestic setting, but imagine how bad it would be in a tent on a Cornish clifftop.
Happily, there shouldn’t be a problem if you do the simple basics for healthy living that are second nature to all of us. The key factors are to keep your hands clean, do the washing up thoroughly and not to leave food lying around in the sun for flies to feast on.
Sunburn can ruin a summer holiday and we’re more likely to bare skin that never normally gets exposed and is thus more vulnerable. Adults are as much at risk as children so, after sorting out the kids, slap some sun protection on yourself; better still, get them to do it to help raise their awareness.
With youngsters running riot all day in the sun, it’s easy for them to become dehydrated unless you keep topping them up. Water bottles marked with each child’s name should help to ensure they maintain liquid levels. Mixing up fruit juices and calling it special ‘jungle juice’ virtually guarantees they’ll be swigging all day.
Taking care on site
Finding out the location of the nearest A&E hospital is rather like taking out insurance and can head off much of the feeling of helplessness, even panic, if one of you has an accident.
Site reception should have details of local health facilities. Of course, avoiding accidents in the first place is by far the better option and when there are fires, open-flame cookers and gas and electrical appliances kicking around the place, that means you and your family taking extra care at all times.
How to be Covid secure when you're camping
When campsites reopened after lockdown there were some changes introduced to ensure the safety of campers and campsite workers.
Group bookings have mostly been ruled out for the time being, and social distancing measures are in place, with tent pitches spaced further apart than usual on many sites and floor markings in public areas like the toilet blocks, shops, receptions and washing-up areas.
Some sites have closed down their shared facilities altogether, but where they remain open additional cleaning regimes and other measures have been put in place. These include frequent deep cleaning, staggered visiting times and restrictions on the number people entering the toilets and showers at a time.
Some campsites will supply hand sanitising liquid at communal points such as water taps and playgrounds (if they are open). If the site doesn’t provide it, take your own and use it every time.
Follow the rules
Of course, camping lends itself to safe holidaying. Tents are self-contained and being in the open air means that as long as you keep your distance, the risk of infection should be low.
But no matter how many measures are introduced by the campsite owners, it’s down to individual campers to act responsibly and follow all the most up-to-date guidance on mixing with other groups, wearing face masks and hand washing.
With foreign travel guidance changing regularly and local lockdowns being introduced to combat spikes in some areas of the UK, it’s important to keep an eye on government advice and only take a trip if it’s safe to do so, especially abroad.
In many ways, campsite and tent hygiene comes down to basic common sense but there are some things to keep an eye out for in particular.
- Store all foods in containers, preferably airtight, and a;ways keep raw and cooked foods separate
- Avoid leaving food lying around where animals will get at it
- If you have food stored in cool boxes, make sure you keep the lids closed
- Two sets of freezer blocks mean you can always keep one set freezing and one set in use.
- With less room to prepare food you need to take extra care to avoid cross-contamination during preparation.
- Being outdoors, do your best to keep flies off food.
- Keep an antibacterial gel handy when you’re cooking
- Wet wipes are really useful, especially the antibacterial versions, for surfaces, utensils and, of course, children
- When you get home, give everything a thorough wash as soon as you can. It is definitely not fun to open a box on site to find mould on the contents
- Absorbent kitchen roll is even more useful on site than at home
- Wear flip flops or Crocs in the showers. They cut out the risk of picking up such horrors as athlete’s foot or a verruca
- Try not to bring outdoor activity gear into your tent to avoid spreading muck and germs about
- Leaving your tent open all day is an invitation to insects, birds and wildlife to make themselves at home
- Use the site bins and recycling points rather than let rubbish pile up at your pitch
- Farm sites are fun but make sure everybody washes their hands after feeding and petting the farm animals.
- Do not assume that all tap water is fine to drink
- A first aid kit will sort out cuts and scratches before they get worse
- Don’t use naked flames, including candles, in or near your tent
- Keep matches and lighters locked away and out of the reach of children
- Know where the fire-fighting equipment is stored on site
- Don’t use cooking appliances anywhere near the walls and roof of your tent or where they can be bumped into and knocked over
- Never spray lighting fuel on warm coals to revive the barbecue
- Never take a barbecue into your tent to use as a heater – it’s a killer
- Store sharp knives away from the prying hands of youngsters
- Wet floors in the shower block can be a slip hazard so wear something on your feet to give you some grip
- If using electric hook-up, make sure your plug, cable and sockets are in good order and off the ground
- Don’t push pegs in with your feet – they can pierce through the sole of your shoes and cause a nasty injury
- Always stick to the speed limits when driving and make sure children are alert for cars and bikes on the campsite roads
- Be careful of trip hazards coming in and out of the tent as well as around guylines
TOP HEALTH AND SAFETY TIPS FOR CAMPING
An antibacterial gel will tackle most germs and doesn’t need to be used with water; keep one handy and get into the habit of using it
Spraying clothing with insect repellent is an effective way to avoid bites for hours
Make sure all the family has adequate protection from the sun; long hours playing outdoors can bring problems even on apparently overcast days
Wash pots, pans, crockery and cutlery straight away. A rota helps but don’t rely on youngsters – or me – to do a thorough job
Keep dogs on a lead on site, exercise them where advised and pick up the poop as you would in an urban environment
Tempting though it is to go foraging for food along hedgerows, make sure you know 100% what it is you are about to eat to avoid any health problems
Every camping family should pack a simple first aid kit to treat bumps, scrapes, cuts and bruises quickly and without fuss; make your own or adapt a bought kit to suit your specific needs
Only drink from taps marked as drinking water