Adventist Youth Honors Answer Book/Recreation/Camp Safety

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Camp Safety
North American Division
See also Camp Safety - Advanced
Skill Level 2
Year of Introduction: 2009

1. Why is it important to find out what the local laws are before starting a camp fire? Where should you get that information?

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In many localities, it is illegal to light a camp fire without a permit. Failure to obtain a permit can result in a hefty fine. Permit issuance is generally left to the discretion of the local fire department, and they may decline to issue one based on current conditions (i.e., when they deem the risk of wildfires to be too great). If a person were to light an unpermitted camp fire, and that fire got out of control, the person responsible could be criminally charged and held liable for any resulting damage (which could exceed several million dollars).

2. Identify 3 reasons why a camp fire should never be left unattended.

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  • It could get out of control and spread.
  • It would be a danger to unsupervised children who are (in general) fascinated by fire and may wish to experiment with it.
  • It is illegal in many localities.

3. List 10 rules for fire safety to consider when camping

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  • Locate the fire in a safe place. It should be clear for 10 feet (3 meters) all around.
  • Do not light a fire beneath overhanging branches.
  • Do not use accelerants, such as lighter fluid, gasoline, kerosene, etc. Learn to light a fire without these.
  • Put the fire out completely before leaving it. If it's too hot to put your hands in the ashes, it's not sufficiently out. Douse it down with water, turn the coals with a shovel, and be sure to extinguish every coal and ember.
  • Do not build a fire on top of flammable material such as grass or leaves.
  • Cut away the sod (keep it moist so it stays alive, and replace it before your leave), and clear away the duff and litter.
  • Keep fire extinguishing supplies handy and near the fire. A bucket of water or sand, or a fire extinguisher are recommended.
  • Do not remove burning sticks from a fire.
  • Watch for embers that escape the fire pit and extinguish them immediately.
  • Wear proper footwear around a fire.
  • Be aware that paper, cardboard, and leaves create floating embers that rise out of the fire pit and may land dozens of yards away.
  • Do not light a fire when conditions are adverse (high winds, or drought conditions).

4. Identify the temperatures the following foods should be kept at, and explain why this is important when camping

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(a)Hot foods
Hot foods should be kept warmer than 60°C140°F.
(b)Cold foods
Cold foods should be kept cooler than 4°C40°F.

The temperature range between 4°C40°F and 60°C140°F is the danger zone where bacterial growth is vigorous. Bacteria is what makes food spoil, and eating spoiled food can cause sickness.

5. List 5 things you can do to prevent animals from coming into your campsite.

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  • Wash all dishes as soon as you are finished eating.
  • Store food in animal-proof containers, or hang it beyond their reach.
  • Food storage containers should be air-tight to prevent aromas from escaping and attracting animals.
  • Do not bring food into your tent.
  • Store food trash in air-tight containers as well, and place it in an inaccessible area. Another option is to burn uneaten food.

Note that these steps will still not prevent a persistent animal from investigating. Raccoons which have been acclimated to human activity are brazen enough to enter a well-lit campsite even when humans are less than 10 meters away!

6. What safety precautions should you consider when building a latrine?

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  • The latrine should be located at least 60 meters200 feet away from any source of water.
  • The latrine should be private.
  • The commode should be sturdy and well-able to support the weight of anyone using it.

7. Make a list of items that should be in a “First Aid Kit” and inspect your Pathfinder Club's camping first aid kit and make recommendations of any missing items as applicable.

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Commercially available first aid kits available via normal retail routes have traditionally been intended for treatment of minor injuries only. Typical contents include:

  • adhesive bandages
  • regular strength pain medication
  • gauze
  • low grade disinfectant.

Additional items may include:

  • tweezers (for tick and splinter removal)
  • Ace bandages
  • burn cream
  • medical grade gloves (to protect the responder)
  • alcohol pads (for sterilizing equipment and wounds)
  • an epinephrine auto-injector (brand name Epipen) - often included in kits for wilderness use and in places such as summer camps, to treat anaphylactic shock.

When inspecting your club's first aid kit, be sure to check expiration dates on any medications.

8. List 5 things to consider when practicing good hygiene at a campsite where there is no running water (ie showers, flush toilets, sinks, or faucets).

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  • Camping does not absolve a person from good hygiene practices. It merely makes such practices a little less convenient.
  • Build an appropriate latrine and locate it properly (away from the campsite and away from any source of water).
  • Wash dishes in plastic tubs. One for pre-rinse, one for washing, and one for rinsing. All tubs should be filled with hot water (heat it on the camp stove), and the temperature should be checked before the dishes are washed.
  • Water temperature can be moderated by mixing hot water with cold water.
  • The final rinse tub can benefit from a teaspoon of chlorine bleach.
  • A handwashing station can be fashioned from a gallon jug (such as a milk jug). Fill it with water, screw the cap tightly in place, and suspend it from a tree. Pierce the jug with a golf tee. When the tee is removed, water will dribble out. When the tee is replaced, the flow will stop. Put a bar of soap in the toe of an old pair of pantyhose, cut the leg from the hose, and tie it to the handle of the milk jug. This will keep the soap from falling to the ground and getting covered with debris, but the soap can be used without removing it from the hose.
  • Spit toothpaste into the trash or bury it. No one wants to look at that.

9. Demonstrate 3 ways you can purify water when camping.

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Water can be purified by boiling for five to ten minutes.
Iodine is added to water as a solution, crystallized, or in tablets. The iodine kills many—but not all—of the most common pathogens present in natural fresh water sources. Carrying iodine for water purification is an imperfect but light weight solution for those in need of field purification of drinking water. There are kits available in camping stores that include an iodine pill and a second pill that will remove the iodine taste from the water after it has been disinfected.
Chlorine-based bleach may be used for emergency disinfection. Add 2 drops of 5% bleach per liter or quart of clear water, then let stand covered for 30 to 60 minutes. After this it may be left open to reduce the chlorine smell and taste.
Water filters are also used to make water potable. These filters are usually small, portable and light (1-2 pounds), and filter water by working a hand pump. Dirty water is pumped via a tube through the filter, then out into another flexible tube and directly into a water bottle. These types of filters work to remove bacteria, protozoa and cysts, all of which can cause disease. These water filters should not be confused with devices or tablets that are water purifiers. Water purifiers satisfy higher EPA standards, and also remove viruses, such as hepatitis A and rota virus, among others.

10. Identify 2 types of fuel used for camp cooking and explain what precautions should be used when using each type of fuel. Discuss 5 guidelines for safely handling the following camping items

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  1. Keep knives sharp.
  2. Close folding knives when they are not in use or when passing one to another person.
  3. Cut away from the body (yours or anyone elses).
  4. Do not throw knives
  5. Do not stick a knife blade into the ground.


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  1. Check the condition of the axe before using it, and make certain the head is firmly attached to the handle. Check this continually as you use the axe.
  2. Make sure the area above the head is clear before swinging an axe.
  3. Do not use an axe when another person is within two axe-lengths.
  4. Make sure no one is directly in front of you or directly behind you (in case the axe head comes off).
  5. Do not chop the ground with the blade.
  6. Do not swing the axe unless you have a firm footing.
  7. Whacking a dead tree with an axe can dislodge dead limbs. Watch for them.
  8. Do not swing an axe towards any part of your body (especially feet and legs).


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  1. Do not chop with a saw. Saws are for cutting.
  2. Keep fingers clear of the blade.
  3. Start cuts at a low angle so the blade does not bind or jump out of the kerf.
  4. Store a saw in a safe place when it is not in use. Don't make it a tripping hazard.
  5. Be aware of the entire length of the blade when sawing.
  6. Do not saw into whatever is supporting the item being cut.


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  1. Do not hold an item with one hand and chop at it with the other. You really do want to keep all your fingers.
  2. Sheathe a hatchet when it is not in use.
  3. Present the handle to a person to whom you are passing a hatchet.
  4. Store a hatchet in a safe place when it is not in use. Don't make it a tripping hazard.
  5. Keep the hatchet sharp.


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  1. Make sure anyone using a machete is well supervised.
  2. Store a machete out of the reach of children.
  3. Do not swing the machete towards your legs or feet.
  4. Anticipate that the machete can glance off a target after it strikes it.
  5. Sheathe a machete when it is not in use.

Types of Fuel

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Propane is perhaps the most popular form of fuel for a camp stove. Be sure to close the valve tightly when the tank is not in use. When lighting a propane stove, be sure to have the fire ready before turning on the gas. If you turn on the gas first and then have trouble getting the fire to light, you can cause an explosion. Allow the gas to clear for five minutes before attempting to relight.
Backpacking stoves often use denatured alcohol as their fuel source. Be aware that alcohol flames can be almost completely invisible, especially in direct sunlight. Pathfinders have been known to believe the stove is not lit because of this, and then have attempted to refuel the (lit!) stove.

11. Assist your club or conference leadership in a campsite safety inspection using the current Adventist Risk Management Pathfinder Camp Safety Inspection Form or its equivalent. Be able to briefly explain the score/report given concerning the safety of the campsite.

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