8 Camping and Hiking Safety Tips for Kids

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Kids love a good hike. They also enjoy a great camping trip. It is sure to get them up and running. They need to burn off all that excess energy. Hiking is a surefire way to ensure everyone ends the day better than most. Imagine all the benefits for them, decreased moodiness, reduced anxiety, increased happiness, and much more.

If you want to get outside with them, then you need to keep them safe from all life throws at them. That is why you are reading 8 Tips for Camping and Hiking Safety for Kids. You can rest easy at night after you share all this knowledge with them.

Let’s get started.

1. Keep Your Kids within “Eye Shot”

As long as you can see your kids, they will be alright. Of course this varies with age group. For older kids like teenagers, they know how to take care of themselves, so they can go far without you keeping an ever present eye on them. “Ear shot” is more appropriate for them.

For younger kids like toddlers, elementary, and middle school kids, you need to keep an eye on them. They have not reached the level of maturity where they can be off on their own.

If you and them can see each other, then you are both within “eye shot.”

2. Give Everyone Their Own Gear

When kids have their own gear, they feel they are adventurers, part of the team. They become Lewis and Clarke or any other famous explorer, traversing an unseen land for the first time. They smile and get excited.

More importantly though, you can give them gear to carry if they get caught in a pinch. This includes the following:

  • Whistle, all the kids need one of these. They can call for help if they run into trouble. The sound of a whistle carries above the noise of everything else. You can hear it.
    Three short bursts with a pause between each is a call for help. Teach them that.
  • Backpack, with a pack slung on their back, a kid can carry all the gear you give them.
  • Water, give them plenty to drink and remind them to drink it on a regular basis. When they drink consistently, they feel more hydrated.
  • Food and snacks, kids burn a lot of calories as it is, but they will burn even more when outside. They need to be able to recharge without your permission.
  • Rain wear, the weather can change in an instant. Nothing makes a camper more unhappy than feeling cold. The weather can become cold, but it does not have to make your kids feel cold. As long as they have a way to feel warm, then the weather doesn’t have to be all that bad.
    Proper clothing, not all parks are the same. Be sure to dress in shorts and hot weather clothing for the desert and in heavier jackets for chillier days. In other words, dress for the weather.

3. The Buddy System Works Well

People stay safer when they are in pairs. They can work out problems together. It is also a surefire way for them to help each other out. They can develop deeper friendships.

4. Wait at Trail Forks and Junctions

People often get separated from each other at forks and junctions. One person goes one way and someone else goes another way and then the group is split up and separated from each other. It happens.

To prevent that from happening, stop and wait for each other at junctions and forks. It gives people time to catch up and regroup.

5. Teach Your Children What to Do if They Get Lost

“Yo, VIP, let’s kick it!

Ice ice baby
Ice ice baby
All right stop
Collaborate and listen
Ice is back with my brand new invention
Something grabs a hold of me tightly
Then I flow that a harpoon daily and nightly
Will it ever stop?
Yo, I don’t know
Turn off the lights and I’ll glow
To the extreme, I rock a mic like a vandal
Light up a stage and wax a chump like a candle”

Vanilla Ice has one good song and that’s about it, a one hit wonder (sorry Ice :(). For our purposes though, Vanilla Ice mentions something important, “All right stop, Collaborate and Listen” (emphasis mine). In other words, you need to teach kids the STOP Acronym: STOP, THINK, OBSERVE, PLAN.

When kids find they are lost and separated from everyone else, they must STOP and stay put. If they wander off, they will probably head in the wrong direction and only increase the amount of time until they are found. Lost hikers and campers stay lost because they went in deeper thinking they were headed in the right direction.

Next, kids need to THINK and plan out their course of action. What tools do they have available to them? Now is a good time to pull out the whistle and blow three times, pausing between each whistle blow. They need to do this every few minutes.

Kids now need to OBSERVE. Does that mountain look familiar? Did we pass by that stream earlier? In other words, teach your children to take their surroundings into account. When a child sees something familiar or takes environmental factors like temperature, the sun setting, or shelter into account, kids can better adapt to their situation. They can formulate a proper response. Observations feed back into thinking.

PLAN refers to the importance of planning a course of action. More than likely, most kids will be found before dark. If not, they need to find shelter and take the falling temperature into account.

6. Bring More Food and Water Than You Need

My Mom always underestimated how much I could eat growing up. You also burn a lot of calories when you are outdoors. For kids, it will be even more so.

They go through a lot. Pack plenty of snacks, food, and water into their backpacks so they can grab it as needed.

7. Share Your Plans with Others

It goes a long way. If you want to stay safe, let someone know where you will be heading and when you will be back. A short note someone is bound to see goes a long way. It only takes less than five minutes to send a text.

8. Bring a First Aid Kit and Know How to Use It

First aid is essential, especially with kids. They attract cuts and scrapes like a bug light at sun down. You need to know how to apply bandages, how to clean a wound, and how to do stitches. A little knowledge goes a long way in a pinch. More than likely, your kids will run into scrapes and cuts, so you be doing disinfecting and bandaging most of the time. That is what you will be running into.

Are You Going to Get the Gear You Need?

You should now be all set to go. I do have a small request before you go though. If you enjoyed this article, then you are bound to appreciate one of my previous articles, The Best Backpacking Backpacks of 2019. Many of the packs can double as day packs. Multipurpose tools are just wonderful. It goes a long way in supporting this site.

==> Click Here to Find the Perfect Backpack for You <==

If you have any thoughts, questions, or think I missed anything, do not hesitate to comment below and please share the article. Thank you so much and I hope you make it a great day!

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10 Comments on “8 Camping and Hiking Safety Tips for Kids”

  1. I like how you made that Vanilla Ice song totally work, and I absolutely love the whistle idea, that will be a big help like if the child falls and they can’t move or they don’t even have the strength to yell.

    Another great post with lots of good tips for safe hiking.

    1. I appreciate the compliment on the Vanilla Ice song Rose. It certainly spices up the article. You are right about whistles. You can use them even when you are immobilized.

      Thank you for sharing and I hope you make it a great day!

  2. I think a backpack is quite important as if they get lost they can drink, eat stuff and at least feel alright. Do you have any good recommendation for a kids backpack?

    1. You are right about the importance of a backpack Furkan. With a good pack slung on their backside, a child can carry plenty of water and food for a day.

      As far as children’s backpack recommendations are concerned, your best bet (until I write an article about them :)) is the REI Co-op Tarn 18 Kids’ Pack. The reviews have been nothing but stellar (4.7 stars out of over 50 testimonials last I checked) and it is also inexpensive. You save money. The pack will be sure to serve a child well at school and on the trail. I hope this helps you.

      Thank you for sharing and I hope you make it a great day!

  3. Hi Alex, great site here. Hiking is one of my passions in life as well. You have given me some ideas for content on my site and for that I thank you, I deal primarily with hiking boots and am gathering ideas for articles currently.

    I am just starting out here, so it may be a while before I can start selling products, would it be alright if I come to you for advice on the subject of hiking and selling hiking related products in the future? All the best.

    1. I appreciate the compliment James. It is good to know you found this article helpful and can feel the passion in my articles. It is very kind of you to say.

      I am glad to know you are working on your own site. It may take some time, but do not get discouraged. It is all worth it in the long run. You are more than welcome to shoot me an email or bounce ideas off me in the comments section. I will be more than happy to reply.

      Thank you for sharing and I hope you make it a great day!

  4. Thanks for the great tips! I didn’t know that there’s a proper way to whistle for help. I have two young friends that love to hike and I have been thinking about getting them something they can use to carry their own snacks and water. The backpacks they use for school are bulky and more trouble than they are worth. Perhaps you have suggestions and will write about that sometime.

    1. I appreciate the compliment Theresa. I did not know about the proper way to whistle only until recently too.

      If you are looking for a good backpack for children, then I suggest you consider my reply to Furkan’s comment above (third from the top). Or if you want something for an adult, then I suggest you head on over to “The Best Backpacking Backpacks of 2019” article I link to at the end of this piece.

      Thank you for sharing and I hope you make it a great day!

  5. Alex, thanks for sharing your these camping and hiking safety tips for kids. I did not know about the whistle and doing the 3 burst with a pause to call for help. My next camping trip I’ll get my girls the whistles and they’ll probably be pink. LoL!… Oh by the way, funny reading the vanilla ice lyrics but I like it becaue now I won’t forget the acronym STOP. Besides, both my girls sing along with me… “ice ice baby”.

    So, what are your thoughts about walkie talkies? That’s usually something I take with us but I have a 4-year-old and I am not sure if she will be able to use one.

    1. I am glad to see you enjoyed the article Eddie. The three whistle burst was a new one for me too. Lol! A lot of girls enjoy pink things.

      It is good to know you will remember the S.T.O.P. acronym because of the Ice Ice Baby lyrics. That was the point. I use analogies, similes, and idioms to help important points to stick in people’s minds.

      When it comes to walkie talkies, you can bring them along with you. In fact, I encourage you to do so. They are useful if you are in a group and need to communicate with one another if you are far away from each other, but they do have a battery life. You can bring them along, just be sure to also bring along a whistle.

      Thank you for sharing and I hope you make it a great day!

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