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The sun is shining, the kids are off school, and thousands of Canadians are dusting off their camping gear and heading out to enjoy our stunning wild spaces here in Ontario. And entry to all our Ontario National Parks is free too, as part of Canada’s sesquicentennial birthday celebrations!

Within just a few hours’s drive of our homes here in London ON, we can be out enjoying superb scenery and wild spaces with the family. From paddling through Thousand Islands National Park to hiking the Bruce Peninsula, there’s a lot of wild out there to discover this summer.

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Many of us who live in cities most of the year can forget, however, just how wild Ontario can be. We need to plan what we take to make the most of the experience, and stay safe and healthy too. The healthcare experts here at AMG London have compiled a list of top tips so you can enjoy your wilderness vacation to the fullest.

1. Tell someone where you are going

You may be in a National Park, on a designated camp site with a number, but the advice from Ontario Parks is that you still should let someone know if you plan to go offsite hiking, biking, walking or kayaking. Take your cellphone and a GPS too, if you have one, and plan your route in advance. Tell someone where you are going, and when you expect to return, and stick to your route. Take a whistle in case you need to attract attention. Remember to tell them you’re back safely too!

2. Watch the weather

It may be summer, but our Canadian weather can change suddenly and dramatically, and not just during the day. So, when you pitch your tent, make sure you check out escape routes in case of flooding. During lightening storms, the safest place is inside your car (unless it has a soft top), and not in a tent with metal poles. Equally, if the campsite floods, make sure you know the way out, and keep some dry clothes in the car, just in case.

3. Enjoy nights under the stars

As city dwellers, one of the joys of camping in the wilderness is the amazing night skies ablaze with stars. Of course, that also means it’s pitch-black at night, so bring a torch and plenty of batteries for those inevitable middle-of-the-night comfort breaks! If you want to spend the evening telling stories around a camp fire, the Ministry of Natural Resources advises you build it at least 15 metres from your tent. Have a source of cold water handy to fully dowse the embers before you go to sleep for the night. Be aware too that some National Parks this summer have suffered from wildfires. Always check for fire bans and area closures due to fire.

4. Carry sunscreen and water even on rainy days

Even on overcast days, rainy days, or deep under the tree canopy, you can still get sunburnt. Apply plenty of sunscreen, especially if near or on the water, and keep applying it all day long. Take plenty of water to drink and stay hydrated, as you’re probably doing more exercise and for longer than you are used to.

5. Ticks and biting insects

Summertime is also insect time, from whining mosquitos to ‘no see um’ biters that can cause itches, skin irritation and adverse reactions. Use a good quality insect repellant to deter biting, and wear light-coloured clothing to cover your skin if you are particularly tasty to insects!

Blacklegged ticks can be a problem in woodland areas, especially where deer are present, and in wet environments such as lake shores. These ticks can carry Lyme disease, which can affect your whole body for years if left untreated. To prevent being bitten by blacklegged ticks, The Government of Ontario advises that you:

  • Cover up with light clothing
  • Use an effective anti-tick repellant
  • Double-check yourself for attached ticks at the end of each day
  • Wash off any unattached ticks in a shower
  • Check your pets as they might carry ticks indoors
Click here for advice on how to remove a tick by the Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation, including a very neat method using a drinking straw and dental floss.

If you have been bitten by a tick and experience any unusual symptoms over the next 10-12 days, such as:

  • Developing a ‘target’ shaped rash
  • Feeling like you have flu 
  • Fever 
  • Headaches
  • Becoming sensitive to light
  • Stiff joints, including jaw pain

You should consult a doctor immediately.

6. Have fun!

If you’ve never camped, why not start this summer! Parks Canada have an app, Learn to Camp, and the website version includes a handy Camping Checklist – find it here.

All the team at AMG London look forward to hearing about your adventures at your next routine check-up, dental appointment, or spa session!

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