Your health and safety should always be the top priority whether you’re outdoors or not. A camping trip is a great way to change your day-to-day routine through relaxing and enjoying nature. But that doesn’t mean that your food safety routine should change, too.
Food safety should always be practiced whether you’re indoors or outdoors. However, without a working refrigerator, the convenience of a dishwasher or the presence of a clean counter top, food safety is a little more difficult to maintain while at camp.
But with careful planning and each camper taking precautions, you shouldn’t have a problem! Someone getting sick from consuming rotten or undercooked food is one of the quickest ways to ruin your camping trip.
So always keep these food safety tips in mind:
Plan your meals
It’s easy to prepare your meals when you’re camping solo. You can easily just eat canned goods which is safe and shelf-stable, especially if you’re camping for more than a day. But a trip with your family or a group of friends is another story, you’ll need more food and that means you’ll probably need to cook.
Plan your meals by day, prepare the ingredients at home beforehand and pack each meal by day, making sure those that use perishable ingredients are consumed during the first day. Ideally, choose recipes that are easy to prepare and cook and don’t make use of perishables.
Pack raw meat and poultry properly so that the juices don’t contaminate your entire cooler. Also be smart about reusing cookware – if a knife, cutting board, plate, container or pan was in contact with raw meat, wash it thoroughly first before reusing.
Are you packing your cooler the right way? Check out our blog post about it here: The Amazing 5-Step Process To Packing A Cooler Like A Pro
Keep food in safe temperatures
Needless to say, cold food should be kept cold and hot food hot. Perishables can last only 2 hours without refrigeration (or in this case, out of the cooler) or just over an hour if the weather is warm.
It’s most ideal to bring 2 coolers – one for meat and perishables and the other for your cold drinks. This way, your food will stay cooler and safer as opposed to the cooler being opened from time to time when someone gets a beverage.
Wash, wash, wash
This should be a no brainer, but with some campsites having limited or no running water, many campers skip this step. Wash your hands thoroughly (use hand sanitizer at the very least) before handling food. Also wash cooking gear, utensils and surfaces before and after use. If you’re using disposables, be sure to pack them away and dispose of them properly.
Always have water wipes and biodegradable soap ready for quick clean ups.
Keep drinking water safe
If you run out of purified drinking water, only replenish your supply from tested public systems. Never drink from a body of water directly, no matter how clean they look. If you run out of options, boil water or use a water purification tablet and a water filter.
Keep your campsite clean
After every meal, make it a point to clean up right away. Don’t leave your used cooking and eating gear laid out for hours before washing them. Always wash utensils thoroughly. Leftover food should be placed in containers with lids and packed away properly. Trash should be disposed of properly as well.
Having an unclean campsite will not only attract all sorts of bugs to your area (some of which may be harmful to the health) but may also attract wildlife. Remember, the cleaner your campsite, the safer you will be.
Fire Safety While Camping
The same goes with outdoor fire safety. Whether you’re cooking using a stove or enjoying some quality time around the campfire with friends and family, fire safety should always be observed.
Follow these essential fire safety tips while at the campsite:
- Only use you campground’s designated fire rings. If you must build your own fire pit, never build on grass, only dirt or gravel.
- Circle the firepit with rocks if it doesn’t have a metal ring. This way, the fire will be contained within the pit in case the fire grows in size.
- Always check the firepit first. The previous campers may have left garbage in it. Clear the pit of any debris before starting a fire. There should at least be a 5-foot perimeter of soil around the campfire space.
- Make sure you build your campfire at a safe distance away from any tent, camper, car or the like. Remove dry sticks or leaves from the area before building the fire.
- To avoid accidents and injuries, never use lighter fluid, diesel fluid, gasoline or any other flammable and dangerous liquids to ignite your fire. Flammable items like aerosol cans and pressurized containers should also be kept a safe distance from the fire.
- Stack extra firewood away from the fire.
- Check the weather forecast and build an appropriate type of fire. If you’re expecting a windy night, don’t make a teepee campfire – a big, hot fire can easily blow burning debris onto a flammable surface even from a small amount of wind.
- Always keep your fire small and contained. A 2ft x 2ft x 2ft campfire is recommended.
- Never leave the fire unattended at any time, especially if there are children and pets. Never allow them to stand or play too close to the fire. Teach kids how to do the stop, drop and roll beforehand in case their clothing catches fire.
- Make sure that the fire is extinguished and the coals are cooled completely after use. To do this, drown the campfire completely with a bucket (or more) of water then stir the ashes.
Don’t let any mishap ruin your fun outdoors – always exercise food and fire safety precautions throughout your whole camping trip!
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