Hiking is relaxing and a very good way to exercise. Here are 5 safety tips for hiking with children.
1.Do Not Let Them Wonder
Children do not like to be tied down. Their natural curiosity makes them want to go and check out their surroundings.
Not everything in Mother Nature is people friendly. If you are hiking in an area that is known to have bears or other wildlife that can attack I would be very cautious in letting your children out of your sight. These animals may attack due to fear or protecting their territory.
Other problems that can arise is they may step into a hole and break their foot, cut themselves pretty badly or get lost.
If you must let them wander and do their own thing my buddy brings twine with him and ties it around his kids beltloop. This allows him to keep them in the distance he wants them. So he can monitor them or be able to find them quickly and easily if they call out for help.
As I said it is not recommended but that is a tip you can use to make sure you can find them safely.
2. Teach Them How To Use All Of The Safety Equipment
Here are the necessities you need to teach your children before taking them on a hiking trip. This is age-dependent and use your judgment if they are ready or not.
You can check out the post Best Hiking Gear For Beginners. If you are missing equipment or just want to know what we recommend. I will give links to products for each of these in case you need to buy some.
A. First Aid
Knowing how to use the first aid kit is one of, if not the most important thing you need to train your child to do. If you get injured and you cannot tend to the injury properly they need to know how to apply the proper parts of the kit to the injury.
Buy Our Recommended First Aid Kit. Lifeline Trail Light Dayhiker First Aid Kit – $9.90
Teach your child how to use a map or a piece of equipment to help them find their way back to the area they desire is highly important. If they get lost or you get injured then it is important that they know how to go get back. This obviously depends on the age of the child but even basic knowledge can help.
Get Hiking GPS – Price Varies
C. How To Setup A Tent
Teaching your child how to set up a tent will give them the knowledge to do so if you are unable. This will give you a place to sleep and be comfortable for the night or until help finds you.
Buy Our Recommended 2 Person Tent: Flytop 2-Person Double Layer Backpacking Tent – $89.98
Buy Our Recommended 4 Person Tent: The APLS Mountaineering Lynx AL 4 – $119.99
D. How To Start A Fire
One of the needs for survival on a hike is the ability to start a fire. Not only can it be used to cook food but provide warmth at night when the temperature drops. This can also help you find them if they do go missing.
Buy This Multipurpose Tool That Has A Firestarter: The Keekom Fire Starter Paracord Bracelet $9.99
E. Use A Whistle
If you are bringing your child with you it is a good idea to bring a whistle that they can carry around their neck. This will help you find them if they get lost.
Buy Your Safety Whistle: Holdall Emergency Safety Whistle With Lanyard $13.99
F. Use And Fill A Water Bottle
Most children know how to use and fill a water bottle but making sure that if they don’t have any water and are lost they know how to safely get water from a creek or river.
Our Recommended Water bottles:
1. MIRA Stainless Steel Vacuum Insulated Water Bottle $11.22 (17oz) to $18.50 (25oz)
2. Nomader Collapsible Water Bottle $21.95
3. Take Frequent Breaks
Depending on the age of the child you want to make sure you are taking frequent breaks to snack and drink liquids. Keeping your energy up and staying hydrated will allow both of you to not get weary and keep your strength up. No shame in taking a lot of breaks. This will help the little ones stay energized and ready to continue.
Listen to your body and your child’s body. Forcing them to keep moving when they are sore, tired, or even dehydrated is dangerous and could lead to an injury.
One thing people often forget to do before going on a long hike is stretching. Having your children stretch will keep them from straining muscles and being less sore during the hike.
Not only does it reduce the possibility of injury but allows greater flexibility to make the hike easier and more enjoyable.
You do not need to stretch only before but during as well. If you or your child are starting to feel tight then take a second and stretch your limbs.
Here is a great post on stretches you should do before and during hiking. Stretches to do before and during hiking.
5. Do Your First Hike On A Child-Friendly Trail
One mistake parents make is taking their child out on a long hiking trip for their first time. Kids aren’t always used to the amount of physical work it takes to hike a long trail.
Taking them on a short trail that doesn’t have a large amount of uphill walking is a good place to start.
Here are 10 Family-Friendly hiking trails across the US according to National Geographic.
You can find them by asking park rangers or looking online. It will let you know if your child is ready and willing to try a longer, more difficult hike.
Bonus Tip: Bring Another Adult
The best situation possible is to bring another adult. It is very unlikely that both adults get injured and is reliant on the child to do things to allow survival.
It will also allow someone to get the child to safety while you get help.
Time To Give It A Try
I have a 5-year-old who loves hiking with me. I don’t let him out of my sight while hiking due to the dangers. We started off doing the trails at Kizer Lake in St. Paris, OH and also did a test run in Tawawa Park in Sidney, OH.
Now he has done most trails with me. We have never had an issue and he loves just spending time with me and seeing all of the fun things in nature.
There are some things I haven’t taught my kid to do on this list like making a fire. Use your own discretion on if they are ready or not to learn.
It is nice having my wife with me in case something happens she can do the things on the list instead of my son. If you don’t have someone else who can tag along then having them equipped with as many skills as possible can help prevent any dangerous situation.
Hopefully, you enjoyed these 5 safety tips for hiking with children. If you have any safety tips you can add just let me know and I will add them.
Any comments or questions would be appreciated.