Camping and Woods Safety for Kids
You're very excited - your mom promised to take you
on a fun camping trip this year. Or maybe your scout group is gearing up
for an awesome canoe trip. Whatever the circumstances, enjoying the beauty
and nature of the woods is fun - if you are careful. Before you head out
on your great adventure, check out the article below for some safety tips
that will keep you safe for your entire trip.
Before you leave, pack these few important things
that will make your trip more comfortable and safe:
Map of the area
Compass (learn how to use it beforehand)
Bottled water and food
Flashlight with extra batteries
Sunscreen and sunglasses
First-aid kit with gauze pads, adhesive bandages, tape,
tweezers and antiseptic
Waterproof tent (set it up beforehand to practice)
Into the Woods
Staying safe in the woods means using common sense:
Be aware of your surroundings and always camping with an
adult. Never go into the woods by yourself - besides, nature is best
shared with another person.
Some things you need to be careful of while you're camping
are insects, poison ivy, extreme hot or cold temperatures, and rain or
If insects bug you, ask an adult to set up camp away
from the water and build a small fire. The water attracts bugs, and the
smoke from the fire will keep most of the bugs away. Another thing you can
do is to remember to keep the tent door zipped at all times, even if
you're just going in for a minute. Also, turn off your flashlight before
you enter your tent because insects such as moths are attracted to the
light and will follow you.
Always check for ticks at the end of the day when
you're in the woods. Ticks can carry disease and germs. Deer ticks are
grayish or black with black legs and can be as small as the size of the
head of a pin. Those ticks like to hang out in places like behind your
knees and ears, under your arms, and in your groin. Other ticks are larger
and may latch onto your scalp, so you should also check your hair
carefully. If you're camping with a pet, have an adult check your pet for
ticks, too - dogs and cats can pick up ticks in their fur even more easily
than humans. If you do find a tick, don't try to remove it yourself; get
an adult to help you. He or she should grab the head of the tick with
tweezers as close to your skin as possible and pull it off in one slow,
The best way to avoid running into poison ivy is to
recognize the plant. Poison ivy can grow on a vine, flat on the ground or
as a tall plant. You can remember what poison ivy looks like by the
saying, "leaves of three, leave it be." That is because the leaves, which
are usually 2 to 4 inches long, grow in groups of three. All parts of the
poison ivy plant release a poisonous sap when damaged. It is contact with
the sap that causes an allergic reaction. This can happen if you touch the
plant or something that has touched the plant - like your clothes or your
pet. If you accidentally touch poison ivy, wash the area with soap and
cold water as soon as possible. You may need to change your clothes and
wash the dog, too!
Staying Safe Outdoors
Roasting marshmallows and singing songs by an open
fire are favorite camping activities. But to enjoy your fire, you have to
practice a few safety tips:
First, always have an adult help you start the fire.
Make sure you never leave the fire burning without someone watching
Keep a bucket of water and a shovel nearby.
Also, don't forget to put out your fire by dumping water or
shoveling dirt on it when you sleep or leave your campsite. Feel the
ground around the area where the fire was to make sure it isn't warm.
Your Food and Water
Although it's fun to enjoy food and water in the
great outdoors, you should take a few precautions before taking a sip or
You should only eat or drink what an adult says is safe. It could
be dangerous to drink water from a stream or lake because it could have
bacteria (say: back-teer-ee-ah) or parasites in it. It's best to bring
bottled water to drink.
You should also think ahead and bring some easy-to-carry food, such
as fruit, trail mix, crackers, granola bars, bread and peanut butter.
Don't eat any wild berries you see outside as a snack! Some berries
are poisonous and you may not recognize which ones are safe to eat and
which ones are not.
It's smart to wear clothing in layers that can be taken off when it
gets hot or put back on when the temperature drops at night. If you pack a
variety of tank tops, short-sleeved shirts and long-sleeved shirts, you'll
be able to add and remove layers easily.
Wear bright colors, so if you get lost, it will be easier for
others to spot you.
Wear comfortable boots when hiking so your ankles are
well-supported and you don't get blisters.
Keep your arms and legs covered while hiking to avoid ticks and
insect bites and wear knee-high, loose-fitting boots when you are in an
area with snakes.
Make sure to take rain gear, such as ponchos and waterproof
jackets, to keep you dry if an unexpected shower occurs.
The Wildlife Around You
Although animals are cute to look at, wild animals
are best enjoyed from far away. Here is some advice if you encounter wild
Don't go near or try to feed a strange animal. It's better to enjoy
these animals at the zoo, in books or on the Internet.
To keep animals such as bears or wolves away from your campsite,
keep it clean.
Scent is very important to animals in the wild because they use
their sense of smell to hunt. Don't leave anything that is scented, such
as deodorant or toothpaste, out in the open.
Keep food packed away so that if a furry friend does come along,
she won't smell it and eat your dinner.
Most importantly, when you're in the wilderness, remember that
you're on the animals' turf and you should respect her home as if it were
What to Do if There's a Problem
If anything unexpected happens to you while you're on your camping
trip, always tell an adult and get help as soon as possible.
If you get lost, wait in a safe, sheltered place for an adult to
find you. Don't move around; they might miss you.
And always carry a whistle with you because a whistle's tweet will
be heard farther away than your voice.
Camping and hiking can be lots of fun if you know how
to play it safe - remember to bring marshmallows, good songs, and ghost
stories along with all your other gear and you're sure to have a great