If you’ve hiked before, you know the basics such as wearing sturdy shoes and bringing plenty of water. But if you want to bring kids along on the hike, what else do you need to consider to keep them safe on the trail? You don’t want to spend the hike worrying about them. Here are a few things to know before you go.
Make sure that your young children know that they need to be able to see an adult in your group at all times. It’s easy for a kid to wander off a trail or to take a wrong turn at a trail marker if an adult isn’t watching. If possible, one adult can be the leader — no kids are allowed to pass the leader — and one can take the caboose position, being sure to stay behind all the kids, and encouraging them to catch up if they lag too far behind the group.
Pack the Right Gear
If you have very young children, it can be helpful to have a child carrier, so that you can easily carry your little one on your back when their feet get tired. Toddlers and preschoolers often like to be up and down frequently throughout the hike, and a sturdy carrier can help prevent injury to the adults doing the carrying. Make sure that everyone has water, sunscreen, and insect repellent before you head out on the trail. Finally, no amount of insect repellent will prevent all bug bites. When the inevitable happens, it’s great to have bug bite relief on hand to use right away.
Teach Them About the Trails
Once your kids are old enough, start teaching them to read trail maps, follow trail marking, and read a compass. If they can navigate the woods independently, they’re more likely to find their way back to safety should they get separated from the group. In addition, make sure that everyone knows what to do in case of a separation. Kids should have an emergency whistle with them. If they suddenly find themselves away from the group, they should stop where they are, stay put, and blow the whistle often to help the adults locate them.
Hiking as a family is a great way to spend time together outdoors, and to keep everyone healthy and happy. With a few safety precautions, you and your family can hike together without too many worries, even if your kids are very young.