I am lucky enough to have three wonderful kids. The two older ones love to go on adventures and explore new things. Hiking with kids is all fun and games until one of them gets hurt, then the rest of the hike may be ruined and normally makes them drag their feet (sometimes quite literally) before tackling another hiking adventure.
11 safety tips to follow while hiking with kids.
- First Aid kit
- Bring lots of food and water
- Dress appropriately
- Keep a watchful eye on them
- Share your plans with others
- Bring Safety Gear for you and the kids
- Teach them what to do if…. happens
- Teach them about the dangers (if any) in the area
- Bring a map and teach them how to use it
First Aid Kit
Whether you are hiking with kids or others, having a first aid kit is always a good idea. The type of hike and distance away from help will determine the type of first aid kit you will need.
If the hike is a short hike of 20 minutes or less, has cell phone coverage and is close to help if needed, then some band aids and triple antibiotics may be enough. However, if you plan on being gone for an hour or longer, farther away from help and with minimal cell phone coverage then you will want to pack a more extensive first aid kit.
You can get a good quality hiking first aid kit on Amazon for inexpensive. They are light and easy to hike with. If you do find yourself in an emergency situation, you’ll be happy you packed the first aid kit!
*NOTE: I have found it best to have some kids first aid bandages in the kit to help give the kids a boost of confidence to continue their adventure! Here are some bandages my kids love:
Bring lots of Food and Water
Drinking plenty of water and eating snacks during the hike will enable your kids to have the energy to hike for a lot longer and happier. My wife and I like to have food for us and the kids on our hiking adventures as well as some in the car for when we get back. Hiking with kids can often take a lot longer than you may have planned and hungry kids (or parents) can make the trip unpleasant.
While I can’t imagine hiking with kids in anything less than ideal weather, you and the kids should be appropriately dressed for the hike.
Some key clothing items to have are:
– Lightweight gloves
– Long pants
– Long sleeve shirt
Long pants, shirt and gloves will protect against prickly brushes, branches and rocks as well as the sun. Additionally, the hat and sunglasses will protect their face and eyes from the sun. Sunburns can be really painful for kids.
While having gloves is not absolutely necessary, I like to have them in case they trip and fall. The gloves will protect the palms of their hands or their fingers when they start grabbing or touching things with a thorn or sharp edge.
Keep a Watchful Eye
For a kid, being on an adventure is exciting and thrilling! It’s a great time to let the kids be explorers as well as an opportunity to stretch their imaginations. The best safety tip here is to explore with them and keep them within a safe distance.
Kids don’t know what dangers are out in the world until they either experience the danger for themselves or are taught. Teach them to look carefully before they touch and caution against poisonous berries or prickly thorns.
They may not be aware of the dangers of holes, cliffs or fallen trees. Have a fun and safe time with them by emerging yourself into the imaginary world in which they have created and go on the adventure with them to save the day.
Share your Plans with Others
Before you go out on a hike- no matter if it is short or long, let others know where you are going. Provide them with an estimated time in which you will be back from your hike and when you will check in with them and at what cell number.
Should something happen, you’ll know that a search party will come looking for you. The best safety advice I can share with you regarding this one is to share your plans with someone who will follow through and come looking for you if you don’t check in.
Safety Gear for you and the kids
There are a lot of good things to teach your kids while you are out hiking. Teach them to be have safety as a priority and to be responsible for their own safety as soon as possible.
When they are old enough, provide your kids with their own backpack with water, snacks, and extra pair of socks, etc. Label the backpack with their name, home address and phone number to contact should they get lost.
Another safety item they should have with them is a whistle. This will help them call for help if they are lost and can also help scare away an unfriendly animal.
My wife and I got this backpack from amazon years ago and have used them with our kids while out hiking or on vacations. We love the “leash” part of the backpack for our younger kids.
Teach what to do if…. Happens
Just the other day, while I was out fishing with my four year old “best buddy”, I would ask him questions like, “What should you do if you or I fall into the water?”
Depending on where you are hiking, asking questions like this is a great way to teach them safety while you are engaged in the activity.
NOTE: Do not asks them these questions in a serious tone. Additionally, don’t stop them from the hike to get their “full” attention. It may scare them. Rather, ask them these questions while you are out hiking, exploring, looking at the trees, bugs or other activities so they feel safe and are learning at the same time.
Teach them about the dangers (if any) in the area
I have some friends who strongly believe that their kids should explore, touch and do whatever they want, after all its how they learn right? If this is your preferred parenting method, be sure to teach them about the necessary cautions. Help them identify the difference between a water snake and other poisonous snakes in the area. Teach them which leaves, plants and insects are poisonous. Show them pictures of the different animals in the area and teach them which ones are friendly and which ones are not and how to back away from a dangerous one.
Bring a Map and teach them how to use it
Having a map of the area is not only smart and safe, but it is also a great tool to teach your kids about the area you are hiking and how to find their way back to the car in they need to. My kids love to look at maps and orient themselves and know where they are on the map.
Hiking with kids is an adventure in and of itself- no matter where you go! The hikes don’t need to be long or to really cool places to be filled with adventure and excitement. Getting outside exploring while hiking is a great way to make lasting memories! Be safe and happy hiking