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Food Poisoning

Examination Bed by Luke Partridge

Getting Food Poisoning While Camping

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I’m talking generic, standard, regular food poisoning here – I’m not talking about allergies, seafood, mushrooms, or anything exotic. I’m also talking about situations where you can’t just get to civilization or access easy help.

Whether you’re long term camping or it’s just a weekend trip, hiking from site to site, backpacking, or living in a tent, few afflictions cause as much chaos as food poisoning.

Having food poisoning is awful, no matter where you are. Out in nature, away from help, however, means that you need to catch the signs early and “play through the pain” to prep for a miserable couple of days. Don’t wait to see if you’ll feel better -> you won’t. It only gets worse.

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2 Major Issues

There are two big things to think about immediately:

  1. hydration
  2. bathroom

Now, these seem to contradict each other; but they don’t. At all.

Hydration: start forcing liquids as soon as you notice the issue (generic advice here, really, this is true of everything) and don’t stop. Fill every container you’ve got and put them where you plan to be. If a good size one has a clip, connect it to you asap, so you have something when everything else is out of reach.

As soon as you finish a container, refill it.

Note: don’t go drinking anything with caffeine or carbonation (if you’re completely stuck, caffeine is worse). Water is best, but juice is fine if you have it.

And don’t go trying anything you’ve never had before! Don’t have an unexpected allergic reaction in the middle of food poisoning!!

Keep drinking as you prep everything else. Don’t forget to refill and scatter bottles as you go.

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Bathroom: if you’re aren’t near a public bathroom or biffy (yes they’re gross, but needs must and all – it’s amazing what you can quickly become accepting of when there’s no other choice), you’re going to need to create one for yourself.

If you’re not accustomed to such things, I hope you at least carry a shovel with you when you go camping.

If you don’t already have a bathroom area set up, do that fast. You’ll want a section to sit on to do your thing, and another to lean over (possibly at the same time, so space things carefully). If you don’t bring plastic garbage bags with you when you head out: make do and clean it later.

This is one of the regular designs for transportable bathrooms:

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Nothing fancy, but it does the job.

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Some people like setting them up in one of these:

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Again, basic, but they’re for a basic purpose. Everybody does it, but no one likes to talk about it.

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What to do if you have no supplies: dig a hole at least a foot deep (preferably 2′). Add another one near it. Set a few pieces of log next to the larger hole. Put 2 full drink containers nearby.

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A great folding shovel:

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If you don’t a have a shovel: look around for sturdier tree bark on fallen limbs (nothing that’s on a standing tree). It’s going to take longer, but you need that hole.

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Once your bathroom area is prepped, it becomes a waiting game. Take advantage of the time:

  • drink
  • lay out your cleaning supplies
  • drink
  • refill all your bottles
  • drink
  • get another set of clothes ready, in case
  • drink
  • find your radio/cell/gps/etc and connect it to you
  • drink
  • stretch your legs out and massage your thighs
  • drink
  • put an extra blanket where you’re going to be laying down
  • drink

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2 Minor Issues

There are two minor issues to think about after the Big 2 are taken care of:

  1. carbohydrates
  2. protein

Carbs: you need to replenish the energy you will lose. Easy to manipulate foods and packages will be what you can physically handle at first. Broth, small candies under the tongue (suck, don’t chew), plain ramen and the like. If you have any fruit leather or fruit snacks, put them near where you expect to be, and where you plan to lay down immediately after.

Protein: peanut butter, tuna, beans, meats, etc. You want something small set near where you’ll be laying down. This one isn’t as important; but, particularly if your body is used to heavy meats, you’ll want a small amount of something familiar.

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1 Glaring Problem

Disinfectant

If you’re using the all-natural, ‘green’ products: good luck.

I’m all for keeping nature as untainted as possible; but when it comes to anything coming out of either end of me, I want to be able to clean.

I still follow all my personal non-contaminating procedures, like I talked about here, I’m just aware that something as severe as food poisoning is going to use most of my supplies.

Put cleaning supplies everywhere you put water bottles. Put any extras near the bathroom area.

I always support bringing an entire roll of heavy duty garbage bags camping. I just do. This is a time when those bags can make your life easier. Scatter them around with the supplies, and layer your bathroom area and where you’re going to lay down with them.

Keep cleaning as events progress. When you can, do even small sections. It will help keep the smell down and limit the amount of work you’ll have once the horrifying part is over.

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Wildlife

While you are sick, most animals will avoid you like the plague you may be carrying. That doesn’t mean that you should break camping protocol or assume they’ll all stay away. And you’ll probably attract more insects and bugs for a bit.

Just prep everything, make sure your bathroom area isn’t too close to anything or anyone, don’t leave any of the food or drinks open or smelling available.

If you’re in bear country, make a ton of noise every few minutes, including when you’re doing your thing, in case the smell isn’t a clear enough warning. You probably won’t be able to make enough noise consistently to sing, so setting up a few cans you can kick into each other (without kicking them away) might be a good idea.

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KEEP DRINKING!!!!!!

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So, while this may be a current events inspired post, at least I was able to include some of those little details we forget about when we’re feeling fine.

Do you have any rituals you follow?

Do you, like me, use this for the 48hr flu too? This is actually what I did when I had swine flu, too.

Share in the comments! but, no pictures, please 🙂


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Mar

I'm (now) an Affiliate, who blogs about the materials, gear and supplies needed for living in a tent and long term camping: http://longtermcamping.siterubix.com I also enjoy reading and sci-fi in all its many forms.

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