Family HealthParenting Tips

Hitting the Trails with Your Kids: Safety Tips

Summer is the perfect time to explore the great outdoors, and what better time than June, National Great Outdoors Month!? Better yet, hiking is a low-cost activity, so you can have some fun with your kids without breaking the budget. While hiking with your kids can be fun and educational, there are also precautions that need to be taken so that a fun, family trip doesn’t take a wrong turn.

Preparation for safe hiking begins even before you hit the trails. REI suggests that each parent carries a pack containing the “Ten Essentials:”

  • Map and compass
  • Sunscreen
  • Extra layers
  • Flashlight
  • First-aid supplies
  • Waterproof matches/lighter
  • Repair kit and tools
  • Food
  • Water
  • Emergency shelter

Jennifer Johnson, a search and rescue expert, also suggests that each child, preschool age and up, carries their own pack containing:

  • Whistle
    • Should a child get lost, teach them to “Stop, stay put, and whistle three short blasts every few minutes.”
  • Rain gear
  • Warm hat
  • Gloves
  • Food
  • Water
    • Signs of dehydration include a flushed face, skin that is warm to the touch, sweating, and lethargy.
  • Space blanket

When clothing yourselves and your kids for the hike, make sure you’re dressed appropriately for the climate. Quick tip: never wear jeans or cotton sweatshirts when hiking. Instead, wear synthetic pants designed for hiking, as well as synthetic tops with fleece jackets. Even in warmer climates, long sleeves and long pants will help protect against the sun, bug bites, and ticks.

Experts’ tips for the trail

  • One child per adult
    • This may seem excessive, but as was the case for Noah Chamberlain, all it took was one minute, while his grandmother was tying his sister’s shoelace, for him to disappear into the woods.
  • Avoid rattles if heard, and be on the lookout for snakes when climbing rocks
  • Never forget to apply (EPA approved) bug spray
  • Teach your children to stay within eye sight
  • Let your kids explore!

While Central Texas lacks the traditional mountains associated with hiking, there are still plenty of fun trails for you and your kids to explore! Our friends at Texas Hill Country have suggested several popular hiking areas in Central Texas, including:

  • Barton Creek Greenbelt – Austin, TX
  • Garner State Park – Concan, TX
  • Cibolo Nature Center – Boerne, TX
  • Lost Maples State Natural Area – Vanderpool, TX
  • Pace Bend Park – Spicewood, TX

For more age-range-specific tips for your tots, see REI’s hiking with children guide. Need parenting tips and advice? Register for a parenting class at Any Baby Can, or give us a call at 512.454.3743.

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