6 Camping Safety Tips for Toddlers
Camping is a favorite family summertime activity. Taking young ones on a camping trip can be exciting. Campfires, campers or tents, interactions with other families, hiking trails, wildlife and wilderness.
While camping can be a whole lot of fun and a great way to spend some time together, there are also dangers and hazards that come with camping, particularly with toddlers and young children. There are many things we need to be extra vigilant about. So follow these six camping safety tips to make sure that your camping trip is a safe one.
Camping Safety Tip #1 – Know your camping conditions – Find out what the weather is going to be like BEFORE you leave. Find out if your camp site or location is sandy – this is particularly important if you plan to use a tent. Knowing the kind of ground you will be on makes a difference in making sure you have the right equipment. Know what poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac look like.
Camping Safety Tip #2 – Be prepared – Be prepared for anything. Make sure you have the following items in your camping gear:
- Medication (eg: Epi-pen, asthma and allergy meds)
- Bug spray and sunscreen
- First-aid kit, which should include:
- Calamine lotion
- Adhesive strips and tape / bandages including butterfly-shaped
- Disposable gloves
- Snake-bite kit
- Alcohol wipes / antiseptic wipes
- First-aid instruction
- Thermal blanket
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- A compass or GPS device
- Cell phone (with solar recharging station) and review all local safety numbers
- Bottled water
- Waterproof matches
- High-carb snacks (energy bars)
- A whistle
- Clothing for all seasons
Being prepared also means breaking in your camping gear before you go. This is a great part of the trip to involve your children in. If your trip involves hiking, get your child to help select the items for the backpack. If you plan to use a child carrier for a very young child, practice carrying this too. Practice as if you were really hiking to the site. You will want to make sure that your backpack fits properly and that the weight is evenly distributed. Practice setting up the tent or unfolding the tent trailer. Wear in your boots too!
Camping Safety Tip #3 – Leave bread crumbs – No, not for the bears or birds. By this I mean, make sure someone knows where you will be going by leaving an itinerary behind. If an emergency comes up, your friend or family member will be able to communicate with rescue personnel about your location.
Camping Safety Tip #4 – Take care of your campsite. When you get to your site, inspect it for needles, knives, broken bottles, drug paraphernalia. Pitch your tent on a clear spot on a hill. Avoid rock fall zones, steep hillsides or cliffs, and old dead trees or large, overhanging branches. Watch for land depressions that could trap rain under your tent. Use all tent pegs to anchor the tent, not rocks.
Camping Safety Tip #5 – Provide physical safe zones for your kids. Young children respond very well to physical barriers. It also gives you (the parent) the opportunity to teach them about safe areas and dangerous areas. It really is a basic case of outsmarting your kids. Have an adult sleep across the opening to the tent so that little ones can’t get out without waking you up. Make sure that the area around your campfire is clear of rocks that could cause someone to trip. As an extra measure, create a barrier with benches or chairs so that your child knows they can’t go any closer to the flames. Teach your child that if they’re ever lost to “hug a tree”. This means that they won’t be getting themselves more and more lost, as you’re searching for them (this would be a good time to make sure that your child is wearing a whistle, just in case you get separated). As part of your campsite, make sure that your cooking area is separate and a safe distance away from your sleeping area. “The U.S. National Park Service recommends people sleep about 100 yards, or 90 meters, uphill or upwind from where they cook.” (KidsHealth.com)
Camping Safety Tip #6 – Respect the wilderness and wildlife. “Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints” is a common phrase and is something that your children need to learn. Teach them not to eat berries or mushrooms that they find along the way. Unused food should be stored properly to avoid attracting bears. Do NOT feed the animals. Animals will return to a site when they know there’s food. Their next return may be to campers who do not respect them.
Darlene Oakley is a freelance writer for EmpowHER.com.
Camping Basics. TeensHealth.com. Web. June 25, 2012.
Safety During Family Camping Trips. Global Children’s Fund. Web. June 25, 2012.
Camping Safety Rules for Kids. Starr, Joyce. Trails.com. Web. June 25, 2012.
Kids Camping Safety Tips. My Favorite Camping Store. Web. June 25, 2012.
Hiking and Paddling for Kids. Knoblock Hunton, Nancy.
Summer Camping for Kids with Asthma. DeWitt, Denise.
Being in Nature Can Improve Mental Health. EmpowHER.