Camping, hiking, and other similar activities are great ways to get fresh air, exercise and recreation all at the same time; however, they also offer the potential for serious injuries if campers do not take care. If you plan to head back to nature before summer's end or as the leaves change colors in the fall, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) has recommendations to help you stay safe while camping in the great outdoors.

According to the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission:

-- In 2007, more than 11,000 people were treated in hospital emergency rooms, doctors' offices, clinics and other medical settings for injuries sustained while camping.

-- These numbers do not include those injured while using cots, trailers, stoves, and other camping equipment.

Musculoskeletal injuries can include:

-- Sprains

-- Fractures of the ankle and wrist

-- Shoulder strains and lacerations

"You should always try to camp with at least one partner, so if someone gets hurt, the other person can help," says John D. Kelly, IV, MD, spokesperson for the AAOS and an orthopaedic surgeon in Philadelphia. "Also, before you leave for the camping trip, be sure to notify someone at home where you are going and when you expect to return."

The Academy offers the following strategies to prevent injuries while camping:

-- Bring a first aid kit and understand how to use its contents.

Suggested items for a first kit include: clean dressings and adhesives, antibiotic ointment, sterile gauze, simple splinting materials two wooden sticks with an sports elastic bandage should be suffice, a smoke flare, a chemical ice pack, a small-utility knife, a charged cell phone or other communication device.

Camping and hiking often involve rough terrain, making slips and falls common. o Be sure to wear the right footwear, especially hiking boots, which offer support and traction.

If a camper or hiker twists an ankle:

-- Apply compression in the form of a wrap

-- If available, apply ice and elevate the limb

-- Try to walk sparingly.

Should a severe cut or laceration occur:

-- Apply direct pressure to control bleeding and use tap water to rinse the wound thoroughly.

-- If dressings are available, apply to the wound otherwise a clean cloth will suffice.

If a camper or hiker sprains a muscle, it should be wrapped and iced.

Should a sprain to the wrist or a fracture occur, you should apply an ice pack and immobilize the area with a splint.

Other important camping tips:

-- Be aware of potentially harmful animals or plants in the area and know what to do if injured by one. -- Stay well hydrated.

-- Drink plenty of water, even if the weather is not hot.

-- Learn to recognize the signs of dehydration.

-- Wear sunscreen and insect repellent.

-- Use tools only for their intended purpose, for example:

-- Using a knife to open a can or cut wood can result in a serious laceration.

Mountain biking, rafting and kayaking can be dangerous. Do not attempt activities or stunts that are beyond your ability. Be sure protective gear, such as helmets, gloves and shoes fit properly and are appropriate to the activity.

o Bring appropriate clothing for the climate, keeping in mind that weather can change drastically between day and night. Check weather forecasts before you go.

Finally, please keep in mind that these tips are especially important when camping with children, who are more likely to get lost and are more susceptible to dehydration and other common camping injuries.

Tips to prepare for an emergency or disaster ( (

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS)
6300 N River Rd.
Rosemont, IL 60018
United States