Know How to Make Family Campouts Fun and Injury-Free

Know How to Make Family Campouts Fun and Injury-Free


It’s spring in Texas and you know what that means: Don’t blink or you’ll miss the fleeting window of weather that’s not too hot, not too cold, but just right for all kinds of outdoor family activities. So yay, let’s go camping!

Before you pack the tent and refill the tackle box, consider this: In 2008, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a one-of-a-kind study tracking the number of Americans injured each year during outdoor recreational activities and treated in emergency rooms. Turns out, it’s nearly 213,000, with more than half of them between the ages of 10 to 24.

Snakebites3-FBTo be fair, the majority are injured snowboarding (no surprise there) and sledding — admittedly winter sports. But No. 3 on the boo-boo list is a springtime camping favorite: hiking. That’s because the hills are alive with rocks, ruts, roots and ravines just waiting for flora- and fauna-watching hikers to trip or fall over them.

It’s hard to tell the difference between a fracture and a sprain without an X-ray, but significant swelling or deformity usually indicates a serious injury and requires immediate medical treatment. For less serious soft tissue injuries, including minor sprains, bruises, muscle and ligament strains, use the RICE protocol:

R – Rest the affected area by keeping it still and limiting weight bearing.

I – Ice to minimize swelling, but not directly on skin or for more than 20 minutes at a time to avoid frostbite.

C – Compression to support and protect the injury, as well as limit swelling.

E – Elevate the injured area.

Hurtful hills aren’t the only camping menace, which is why it pays to act like a
Scout and always be prepared.

We want s’mores!

No camping trip is complete without a roaring fire over which the kids toast marshmallows for yummy s’mores. Even when weather conditions aren’t optimal, we sometimes go above and beyond to make this camping ritual happen.

Such was the case for burn patient and survivor Joel Hall, an experienced campfire builder who battled wet wood with an entire can of lighter fluid before turning to something stronger. Sadly, the s’mores never got made and Joel was brought to the Burn and Reconstructive Centers of Texas at The Medical Center of Plano for treatment of third-degree burns.

Watch Joel and his doctor, Salil Gulati, MD, plastic surgeon and burn specialist, tell his cautionary tale in this video:

Don’t get burned.

NEVER USE FLAMMABLE LIQUID, including lighter fluid, gasoline, diesel fuel and other dangerous liquids, to ignite your fire. Follow these additional tips to make sure everyone comes home unscathed.

  • Build fires in designated rings or pits only.
  • Make sure vehicles, tents and other items are at a considerable distance from the fire.
  • Defer to Mother Nature: wet wood, windy conditions and lightning are signs it’s time to pick another activity.
  • Never leave a fire unattended or allow children or pets to play near it.
  • Extinguish the fire by drowning it completely with water. Covering it with dirt can keep hot coals alive and capable of inflicting burns for 24 hours.

I don’t like spiders and snakes.

If you or your child is bitten by a spider or snake, what you do in the first minutes could be the difference between life and death.

  • Call for help immediately.
  • Prevent venom from circulating faster by minimizing movement, lying down and keeping the bitten extremity at body level.
  • Remove items that may become problematic if swelling occurs, such as tight clothing, rings, bracelets and watches.
  • Apply pressure to the bitten area but don’t restrict chest movement or breathing.
  • Arrange for transport to the nearest hospital emergency room, which should have local anti-venom available.

More camping safety tips.

  • NEVER swim, hike, boat or do any wilderness activity alone.
  • Get vaccinations up to date, especially tetanus. Same goes for pets.
  • Avoid tick and mosquito bites with insect repellent and appropriate clothing.
  • Leaves of three; let it be. Teach kids to identify and avoid poisonous plants.
  • Avoid wild animals and keep food in sealed containers out of their reach.
  • Cook and chill foods properly to avoid food poisoning.
  • Wear a hat and sunscreen, and stay hydrated to avoid heat-related injuries.
  • Wear life jackets for water activities and don’t swallow water you swim in.
  • Always carry your EpiPen.

Family camping trips create lifelong memories, so make sure they’re good ones by keeping everyone safe. If someone in your family suffers an injury, one of our many Medical City ER locations across North Texas has you covered. With average wait times posted online, if you do have an emergency, you can spend less time waiting and more time on the moments that matter most.

Find a fast Medical City ER near you.

Serious burns can be evaluated and treated at the Burn and Reconstructive Centers of Texas at Medical City Plano.

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Sources/Links: to Care for a Sprained Ankle.aspx

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