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Memorial Day Weekend and Camping Safety

Memorial Day weekend often begins the camping season for many of us, my family included. Over the long weekend, my wife and I drove up to Shadehill to camp out with them as we usually do and enjoy time with the family, grilled food, great campfires and of course, some fishing with my dad.

While the fish didn't want to cooperate, thanks in part of a number of weather fronts that kept moving through the area, coupled with high winds, the time spent with everyone was still well worth it and I always enjoy getting to spend a little more time with my niece, Payton and my 18-month old nephew, Aiden.

He is developing into quite the character, with his dramatic faces and moves as well as with his personality and Payton says I'm her favorite uncle, at least for the time being anyways.

With all that goes into a camping trip, it seems a good time to throw out some reminders about being safe while camping for the first time. Always remember to wear plenty of sunscreen, since most of us haven't spent much time under the sun until now and the sun's rays can quickly crisp us up if we're not wearing any.

Even then, try to limit the amount of sun exposure you have so your skin can get acclimated to it easier. Even wearing sunscreen doesn't guarantee you won't get a sunburn if it's the first time you've been in the sun for long periods of time. I've learned that fact the hard way on a few occasions.

Make sure to keep things cold that need to be cold, whether by keeping them in a cooler or a fridge if your camper has one. Food and drink spoilage can easily ruin a meal if left out too long.

Bug spray is also a must to have, especially anything that can help repel ticks which are out in force at this time of the year here in South Dakota. Be sure you've blocked your camper wheels or secured them in another way. Don't need to see your camper running away from you because you didn't block the wheels and as far as campfires go, be sure to keep them to a manageable size and never leave a fire unattended.

There should always be at least one responsible pair of eyes on it to make sure nothing gets outside the pit and when it comes to putting out a campfire, be sure to dump plenty of water on the ashes to put it out. Then it is also important to stir up the ashes as the heat underneath the main fire can still be extremely hot and could ignite the top layers of ash or wood in the middle of the night while you're sleeping.

I usually refill a 5 gallon bucket at least 4 times when putting out a campfire and making sure it stays out till morning. Better to play it safe then not add enough water to it.

And most importantly, have fun camping this season. The preparations and safety you exercise on these first trips will help keep you at the campsite for the remainder of the summer. So remember to take the proper precautions and you'll be on your way to summer of cold beverages, campfire grilled foods, s'mores galore and great times with family and friends in the outdoors.

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