Every day there is a mention in the news about the H1N1 virus (Swine Flu). It has spread throughout the entire US and the number of cases is on the rise. Apparently the virus can linger on surfaces for five to seven days.

The past few weeks I’ve been seeing people allowing their children to run in-and-out of public restrooms bare-footed, snotty-nosed children touching everything in sight, adults sneezing into their hands and then open doors and a handful of unsanitary scenes.

Campgrounds, RV parks and resorts are not immune to the spread of disease. Here are some things you can do to protect your family from disease while staying at your favorite campgrounds.

First of all, don’t go camping if you or a family member is sick. Sleeping on the ground in a tent will not make them feel better. Or crowding them in a RV with others will only put the entire family at risk for sickness.

Use hand sanitizer!  Make sure you have a small bottle for each person. The best kind to have is the ones that require no water. Each time a family member handles public items (door knobs, trash can lids…), make sure he or she wipes their hands with sanitizer or a wipe.

Use facial tissue! When you are finished, make sure you put it in the trash. Don’t leave it lay on counters or throw it on the floor. Make sure it goes into the trash receptacle.  If it is your trash receptacle – remember to empty it regularly and spray the receptacle with Lysol or clean it with some disinfectant.

If you are a RVer try not to rely on public restrooms.  Some RVers don’t like using their own bathroom because of the size, the extra work required in dumping the tank or they don’t want to pay for sewer hook-ups. If this is the case, then make sure you are wearing shoes (surprisingly, most public restroom floors are not sanitary) and have your own handi-wipes in your purse, pocket or shower bag and use them. Do not rely on the campground’s restrooms to have filled soap containers or even hot water. I am surprised when I do come across a fully-stocked restroom these days.

And if you are using a campground’s restroom and shower facilities, don’t harass the folks cleaning it! If the building is closed for cleaning, ask them where other facilities are located. You wouldn’t believe what workampers and housekeepers put up with. Some Campers get rather rude when the restrooms are closed for cleaning. Yes, it may be a temporary inconvenience, but a person cleaning them is a good thing!

Another thing to watch the sanitation practices in the campground’s café, snack bar or restaurant. If your cashier seems sickly or is propped up on the counter picking their nose… If you see the cook walk out of the restroom wearing his or her apron…. Well, you’re better off eating in your camper or throwing some burgers on the grill. Keep your eyes posted for potential problems. And if you can, call them out on it. Alert the campground manager that you saw the cook going into the restroom wearing an apron or the cashier pick his nose and handle food, etc… It could save someone’s life!

Teach your children to use sanitizer, handi-wipes and facial tissue. Make sure they understand how important it is to prevent the spread of germs – especially in areas like restrooms, playgrounds, water parks and arcades.

A few days ago I was in a public restroom and a small child came up to me stating the sinks didn’t work. I had to show the little one that they weren’t “smart” sinks, they didn’t know we were there wanting to wash our hands. We often forget that children have learned to wave their hands and water or paper towels suddenly appear. They don’t know that not all public restrooms have “smart” technology. So make sure you accompany your children into the restroom to help them wash up properly.

These are just a few ways to protect your family while camping.  With reports increasing on those who will become infected (and die) from the H1N1 virus, we all have to use a little more common sense to stop the spread.

Campgrounds are fun and germ-y!

Campgrounds are fun and germ-y!