Safety tips when camping off grid
Thursday, 16 January 2020
By Alison Crow, Diabetes Educator
Camping off grid is an Aussie tradition. Enjoying the outdoors, barbeques and camping with the family go hand in hand with summer holidays. But when camping in the summer heat, it’s a good idea to consider medication storage for diabetes management, and food safety to prevent food poisoning ruining your summer holidays.
The main considerations for food safety and diabetes while camping include:
- Having adequate clean water for drinking, cooking, cleaning and hand washing
- Storing food at an appropriate temperature
- Preventing food contamination
- Storage of diabetes supplies.
Having enough clean water while away on your holiday is a very important factor. You will need clean water for drinking, food preparation and cooking, utensil cleaning and hand washing. Ensure that you have enough water that is of ‘drinking water quality’. If you have water that is not suitable for drinking then it may need to be treated by boiling, chemical sterilization or filtering.
- Take food that you can safely store at room temperature. Choose shelf stable food such as dehydrated, long life and canned products, this will help reduce the need for cooling facilities. Examples include canned meats, fruit and vegetables, long life or powdered milk, nuts, dry pasta and rice, breakfast cereals, crackers, breads, hard cheeses as well as fresh fruit and vegetables (wash these well before use).
- If you take fresh food items use cooling facilities such as a camping fridge that runs off gas, or a cooler with ice bricks to help manage your food.
- Items that will perish without cooling facilities such as meats and dairy are generally unsuitable, unless you have a camping fridge. If you take raw meat make sure that you store it in a leak-proof container so it cannot contaminate other foods. Always store meat at the bottom of your fridge. Consider only cooking enough meat for the meal and discarding leftovers to reduce the risk of food poisoning.
- If you have perishable items, try and keep the cooling temperature below five degrees.
- Organize items in your fridge or cooler to limit the need to open it constantly, to keep the temperature of the contents more stable. Consider having a separate drink cooler so that you aren’t opening the fridge constantly. Pack frozen water in the fridge or cooler to help keep the temperature more stable and reduce the risk of food spoilage.
Having adequate cooling facilities for insulin and non-insulin injectables for the length of time you are away is important.
- Insulin that is opened can be left out of the fridge for 28 days (check with your brand of insulin for specific timeframes) and must then be thrown out
- Open insulin must be kept below twenty-five degrees (check with your brand of insulin for the exact temperature)
- Keep insulin out of heat and direct sunlight.
- Read the medication insert brochure to see how long the medication can be stored out of the fridge as it will vary between brands
- Ensure that your medication does not come into contact with ice and become frozen, as you will need to throw your medication out if this happens
- Consider purchasing a digital fridge/freezer thermometer with a temperature probe for about $25 from your local camping store. These can be set to provide temperature alerts (via an alarm) if the cooling temperature fluctuates outside of preset ranges.
Remember holidays are a time of change from your normal routine. You might alter your eating habits, drink alcohol, eat more food and change your activity levels. This can impact on your blood glucose levels.
So, enjoy time in the outdoors, plan your food, medications and cooling appropriately and have a great time relaxing with family and friends.