Recently I headed out into the wilds with my kids, our tent, a campstove and an ice chest loaded with good food. A few days later I came home loaded with resolutions about what to do next year to make our annual camping event safer, more fun and more comfortable. I’ll spare you all the details, but here are three weird facts I’ve vowed to remember:
Weird Woodsy Fact #1: Mosquitoes play favorites.
Mosquitoes do indeed seem to prefer some people to others for their daily meal; studies show that substances in the blood and even on the breath can attract them. If you’re a mosquito magnet, wear extra-strength repellent—look for ones that contain DEET, picaridin (also known as Bayrepel) or oil of lemon eucalyptus; its active chemical compound is registered with the EPA as an insect repellent. Mosquitoes are persistent, so cover up: Wear pants and long-sleeved shirts, and avoid fruity or flowery perfumes and lotions. Building a campfire helps, too—mosquitos hate smoke.
Weird Woodsy Fact #2: You don’t have to touch poison ivy to get a rash.
Plant oils can be transmitted via clothing or even a pet’s fur, so try not to touch your clothes after you take them off. Pet your dog as little as possible if he’s been hiking with you, and rinse him off after a run through the bushes.
Weird Woodsy Fact #3: It’s okay to go camping high-tech.
Sure, you want to get away from it all—but don’t leave all your tech tools at home. For safety, carry a GPS device (and bring a friend) when you hike. Be aware that a smartphone GPS won’t work in canyons or other areas without reception, so consider a GPS unit instead. And keep that cell phone with you—even if you lose the signal, it may be possible for a 911 dispatcher or police officer to track your phone’s data should you become lost or injured. If you’re an Android user, the S.O.S. app developed by the Red Cross and Sharecare can be a lifesaver out on the trails.
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