Camping is a fun and memorable way to spend time with your family. The tent. The campfire. The nearby lake.
But when you’re camping, especially with kids, there are some safety tips you should follow so you can make your trip a great time to remember.
Be ready for anything that, without being prepared, might turn your fun trip into one you wish you’d never taken!
1 – Let Someone Know Where You’re Going
You’ve got your family with you and you’re all off on an adventure, but someone not on the trip needs to know you’re gone.
No matter if you’re camping at a campsite or heading out into wilder areas, always let someone at home know where you’re going to be and how long you’re going to be gone. Otherwise, if you get lost or injured, no one will know where to look to find you.
2 – Bring the Right Equipment
Make a list of everything you need days in advance of your trip. Check your list twice to be sure you’re not missing something. A big enough tent, batteries, enough bedding. You don’t want to be hours from home only to find that you’ve left something important off your list.
If you’re camping a stone’s throw from a local store, this isn’t as big of a deal, but if you’re staying somewhere further away, this becomes extremely important.
3 – Be Aware of the Weather Conditions
Before heading out on your camping trip, check to see what the weather conditions are expected to be. If severe weather is predicted, such as thunderstorms, it might be best to face your kid’s disappointment and postpone your trip. Even if the forecast is for sun and blue skies, be prepared.
Weather can be unpredictable and change at any time. Be prepared for seasonal conditions even when you’re camping in the middle of summer. Pack along long pants and waterproof jackets for everyone in your family.
Have a safety plan even on a beautiful day and calm night. If a lightning and thunder storm come out of nowhere, the safest place is in your vehicle. The least safe place is in your tent!
If you can’t get to your vehicle, find a low-lying area and sit down until the storm has past.
4 – Bring a First Aid Kit
Another item to check before your trip is the first aid kit. Take a look through the kit and replace anything that’s missing. Replace items that have been previously used, such as antibiotic cream which has an expiry date.
Some of the basics in your kit should include rubbing alcohol, bandages, and pain medication. Your first aid kit should be somewhere you can easily get to it if needed.
Ideally, you’ll bring your kit with you everywhere you go while on your camping trip. You can get a compact kit that weighs less than a pound, which is perfect for carrying with you on long hikes.
Be prepared if you’re going to be camping off the beaten path. Add emergency flares and heavy blankets to your camping gear.
5 – Don’t Neglect Food and Water Safety
A big part of your camping fun is eating in the great outdoors, so it’s important to plan carefully. Wash your hands frequently when handling food and eating outside and encourage your kids to do the same. This way you reduce the spread of germs.
And always remember to take your garbage to the campsite trash cans. If this isn’t possible, store garbage in your vehicle until you can find a place to dispose of it.
Eating food that has become contaminated increases your risk of getting sick. Try to take as many non-perishable foods as you can. Of course, that’s not entirely possible. Keep perishable foods in containers which can be stacked in an insulated cooler.
To keep foods at a cold temperature, you can either spread ice cubes in the cooler or use freezer ice packs. Depending on how much food you’re bringing, you may need more than one cooler.
Make sure you cook foods to the correct temperature, such as ground beef which needs to cook to an internal temperature of at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Try to avoid bringing along raw chicken, meat, or seafood as these foods need to be kept at temperatures at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you really want that steak cooked over the campfire, consider cooking it on the first night of your camping trip. The same goes for any fish that you catch at the lake. Cook fish on the day you catch it to avoid it spoiling.
Always bring more purified bottled water than you think you’ll need. You’ll be using it not only to drink, but to cook with as well. Teach your kids never to drink water from the lake or other outdoor water sources.
6 – Go Over Kids Safety Rules When You Arrive
The first thing to do when you get to your campsite is to familiarize your kids with the campground. Talk to them about where they’re allowed to go and where they can’t.
Set clear boundaries of how far they can go without permission, such as to the big bush on one side and the picnic table on the other.
The Rule of Twos
Enforce the rule that if you give your kids permission to go out of the boundary area, they must go in twos. Whether they’re going to the bathroom or to the play area, they can never go alone.
Let them know the reason for this. If one gets into trouble, the other one can go to find help.
Water is fun and inviting to kids of all ages. One of your camping rules should be that children are never allowed to go near water without an adult being with them.
If you’re camping near the lake, make sure that you plan lots of family time near the water, so kids are never tempted to go there without you.
7 – Be Aware of Wild Animals in the Area
Sure, wild critters are cute, and kids will always want to get close to them. But any wild animal can be dangerous so take precautions to avoid them. Learn about the wildlife you can expect in the area where you’re camping.
When you’re out hiking, stay with your group on marked trails.
Food and Wild Animals
Animals are attracted to the scent of food. Make sure all your food is safely stored away in tight containers where animals can’t get to them. Teach your kids never to feed food to wild animals.
Not only is this dangerous, it encourages wild animals to stay near you.
Look, Don’t Touch
Teach your kids not to touch or go near a wild animal. They can still enjoy watching them from a safe distance. Always keep your kids near you when you’re hiking.
If you decide to bring your dog along on the trip, make sure he’s vaccinated so that if he should be injured by a wild animal, he’ll be protected from disease. Keep a close eye on your pet and if he’s hiking with you, he’ll do better on a leash, so he doesn’t run off.
If you’re camping in an area where there are bears, you need to be extra vigilant. Bring along the bear spray – and know how to use it!
8 – Protect Yourself from Insects
Expect to be bothered by insects, such as mosquitoes and wasps. Some insects are just a nuisance while others can cause itchy bites and spread disease.
One thing you can do to keep insects to a minimum is avoid setting up your campsite in an area where there is stagnant water. Insects love these conditions. If you can, set up on a higher hillside. Insects are also more abundant in low-lying regions.
Bring along some citronella candles and torches. Set them up on the perimeter of your camping site. Another way to keep bugs off you is by using insect repellent. Look for a repellent that contains a safe amount of DEET.
Keep in mind that products containing DEET should not be used on children under the age of two.
Ticks deserve a special mention here, as they are a big concern when camping. When you’re out hiking, try to avoid grassy areas and stay on the trail.
Wear light-colored clothing that covers all your skin, such as long pants and long-sleeved shirts, as well as socks and hats. You should check yourself and your kids at the end of every day for ticks that have attached themselves to you.
Don’t forget to look for them on your head, under armpits, and in the groin area.
9 – Stay Away from Dangerous Plants
Be on the lookout for dangerous plants, such as poison ivy, poison oak, and sumac. Teach your kids how to identify these plants. Dress them in long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and closed shoes to protect them from being exposed to plants that can cause an allergic reaction if they touch skin.
Calamine lotion should be part of your first aid kit as it can stop itching if anyone, despite all your precautions, is unfortunate to touch poison ivy.
10 – Protect Your Skin from the Sun
Gone are the days when we didn’t have to use sun protection. When you’re out camping, your family is going to spend long periods of time in the sun.
Even on cloudy days or when you’re in shaded areas, you’ll need to protect yourself and your kids from sun exposure. Bring along plenty of sunscreen and remember to reapply often throughout the day.
Have fun on your camping trip! It’s a great way to spend quality time as a family, making some wonderful memories. Follow the safety tips here and go over them with everyone before you leave on your trip. You’ll all know the rules and what it’s going to take to have an exciting and safe time camping.
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