There are endless benefits of spending time outdoors with children. Just getting out there with nature, away from gadgets and TV screens are vital for the health and development of your child. But hiking, especially with little kids, can be quite a challenge.
When undertaking in the wilderness, thinking of your safety does pay off. Here are the nine safety tips when hiking with your little ones:
Let Someone Know Your Plans
Before leaving, you have to tell someone where you are going, as well as what time they will anticipate you to return. After you are done with your hike, you can send a quick text just to check-in.
That way, if ever you are overdue, at least your trusted person will be able to call the authorities and launch a search and rescue team by telling them your last known location.
If you have older children that are hiking alone, they also need to share this information with you before they go.
Use the Buddy System
Remember the saying, “Two heads are better than one?” This perfectly describes the importance of having a buddy system.
So, whether you want to explore a portion of the woods on your own or if you want to go to the bathroom, make sure that someone is there to look out for your kids.
Know the Trail
As a parent, you have to be comfortable with the trail you and your kids will explore. Take the time to research the particular trail in guidebooks or on the internet. Also, bring a map, mapping device (GPS or smartphone), and a compass.
Make sure that all the information you have research has been regularly updated and not out-of-date. If you are a bit unsure of a particular trail you want to go to, bring along a guide or someone who is comfortable exploring it.
You can also explore the trail beforehand with a couple of friends.
Teach Your Kids Outdoor Safety and Survival Skills
Consider hiking as a skill. Just like any other skill, it needs to be taught.
Your kids should also be okay with the fact that they should be carrying their own backpack with essentials like water, trail food, whistle, a survival blanket, walking sticks, and more. They should also know how to use these things.
Before you embark on a hike, make it a point to checking your kids’ packs and to make sure that they are well-prepared.
You can also teach your children important hiking skills, like staying together as a group, paying close attention to their surroundings, respecting nature and wildlife, and knowing dangerous plants in the wild.
Carry the Ten Essentials
The most prepared hikers know that they should never head out to the woods without carrying the ten essentials. Even if you are hiking as a family, there is a possibility that older kids will wander away on their own.
So, it is imperative that they carry these essential items in their backpacks:
- Tools/ Repair Kit
- First Aid Supplies
- A compass and a map for navigation (and knowing how to use both)
- Sunglasses and sunscreen for sun protection
- Emergency shelter
- Waterproof matches or a lighter to start fire
- A survival blanket and warm and dry clothing.
Your kids should know what is inside their backpacks and know how to use every essential.
Check for Ticks
Ticks are something that could be challenging to avoid, especially if you are outdoors. They are mostly found in grassy and wooded areas, and can potentially transmit illnesses like Lyme Disease.
Preventive tips to keep them away are long hiking pants and hats, blocking them from finding a warm spot on the body to draw blood from.
Some of them are really small, like a speck of dirt, so always be on the lookout.
Teach Your Kids What to Do if They Get Lost
When it comes to hiking, preparation is key.
Before you leave for your trip at home, teach your children to stop, look for a tree, make a nest, and to stay put and calm until help arrives.
Also, teach how to use their emergency whistle. Three sharp blows are the universal distress signal. Tell them to only use the whistle only in cases of emergency.
Be Prepared for Any Changes of the Weather
If you are hiking in the mountains, then every person should at least bring an extra layer with them, such as a fleece jacket and a stocking cap.
Rain will always be a possibility, so bring rain gear like a rain poncho for backup. For younger kids, bringing an extra pair of clothing and socks are a lifesaver.
You can also bring hand warmers, mittens, and an extra pair of long underwear too.
Make sure that your kids stay in sight at all times. They also need to stop during trail junctions, wait out the rest of the group, and stay on the trail.
They should also wear bright colors. Stay away from camouflage colors during the day of the hike! That way, it will be much easier to find and see each other.
Over to You
As a parent, you must know and teach your children safety and survival skills before heading to explore the great outdoors. Since these outdoor adventures can sometimes be uneventful, knowing what to do in times of emergency and being prepared is the key to make the most out of your hike and have a fun-filled trip.