Hygiene standards easily slip on the campsite without us even realising. The focus tends to be on keeping clean with a morning trek to the showers. Breaking the routine on a chilly morning is not likely to have drastic consequences – but food preparation standards must be maintained. Away from the domestic kitchen with its sink, hot water and fridge, you need to think harder about storing food and how you handle it. Happily, there’s no need to be obsessive if you do the simple basics for healthy living that are second nature to all of us.
The key factors are to keep your hands clean, do the washing up thoroughly and not to leave food lying around in the sun for flies to feast on. Sunburn can ruin a holiday and we’re more likely to bare skin that never normally gets exposed and is thus more vulnerable. Adults are as much at risk as children so, after sorting out the kids, slap some sun protection on yourself; better still, get them apply their own to raise their awareness.
It’s easy for youngsters running riot all day in the sun to become dehydrated unless you keep topping them up. Supply them with a Batboy or Butterfly Girl water bottle will help to ensure they maintain liquid levels. Mixing up fruit juices and calling it special ‘jungle juice’ virtually guarantees they’ll be swigging all day. Finding out the location of the nearest A&E is rather like taking out insurance and can head off much of the feeling of helplessness, even panic, if one of you has an accident.
Site Reception should have details of local health facilities. If not, ask them why not? A modest amount of organisation and discipline will soon establish a routine that will ensure a healthy time outdoors for all the family without having to fuss and worry, leaving more time to have fun.
Top tips for healthy camping
• Try not to bring outdoor activity gear into the tent to avoid muck and germs.
• Get the washing up done as soon as possible with plenty of hot water. A Collaps washing up bowl is handy to carry dishes to the wash area.
• When you get home, give everything a thorough wash as soon as you can. It is definitely not fun to open a box on site to find mould inside.
• A tent left open all day invites insects, birds and wildlife to enter and look for food.
• Most sites will have sinks specifically for washing pots and crocks only.
• Use the site bins and recycling points rather than let rubbish pile up at your pitch.
• Washing gear kept together in a hanging wash-bag is convenient and avoids forgetting stuff.
• Farm sites are fun but make sure everybody washes their hands after feeding and petting the animals.
• Gel soap that needs no water is really useful when camping; wet wipes are really useful, especially the anti-bacterial versions, for surfaces, utensils and children.
• Do not assume that all tap water is fine to drink.
• Wearing some sort of quick drying footwear in the washrooms and showers is a good move. As well as helping you to keep your footing on slippery floors, it cuts out the risk of picking up unwanted presents such as athlete’s foot and verrucas.
• Two sets of freezer blocks mean one is freezing while the other is in use.
• Work out a menu that cuts down on the need to store lots of perishable food and cook enough to eat rather than trying to keep leftovers. Airtight food containers help to keep food fresh as well as uncontaminated.
Each year, thousands of people in the UK are diagnosed with skin cancer caused by damage from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Protecting the skin from the sun can help prevent these cancers so follow these guidelines from the NHS (www. nhs.uk/Livewell/):
• Spend time in the shade between 11am and 3pm.
• Make sure you never burn.
• Aim to cover up with a T-shirt, hat and sunglasses.
• Remember to take extra care with children.
• Then use factor 15+ sunscreen.