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.
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!