Evaluate your site for evidence of animals or insects nearby,
such as large droppings or wasp nests. Advise the children to
stay away from animals, even the cute little fuzzy ones. If there
are berry bushes nearby, you can bet it’s on the menu for bears.
Be wary of tasting the natural “cuisine” around your campsite.
Things that birds and animals can eat aren’t always safe for
Learn to identify that plants in
your environment that should
be avoided. This especially
includes poison ivy, oak,
and sumac. Show your kid
pictures of the plants so that
they can steer clear of them. The old
adage is “leaves of three, let it be.” Fels-Naptha®
soap is especially effective in removing toxic
resin from skin and clothes if you suspect exposure.
Build your fire in established firepits and away from dry brush.
In you’re in an arid climate, consider using a portable stove
instead. To avoid burn injuries, watch children closely around
campfires; they are fascinated by them. Food (especially
cooked food) should be hung in trees in such a way that ani-
mals can’t access it. Animals are drawn to food odors, so pack
them in re-sealable plastic containers.
Water sterilization is basic to any outdoor outing. If
you camp near a water source, realize that even
the clearest mountain stream may harbor
parasites that causes diarrheal disease and
dehydration. There are iodine tablets that
serve this purpose, and portable filters like the
“LifeStraw®” which are light and effective. If
you didn’t bring an item to help you make
safe drinking water, boil it for a few min-
utes. A good roiling boil should kill most
KNOW WHERE YOU ARE
Few people can look back to their childhood and not remember a time when they lost their bearings. Your kids should always be aware of landmarks near the camp or on trails. A great
skill to teach the youngsters is how to use a compass; make sure
they have one on them at all times.
A great item to give each child (and adult) is a loud whistle that
they can blow if you get separated. Three blasts is the
universal signal for “help!” If lost, kids should stay put
in a secure spot. Of course,
if you have cell phone
service where you are,
consider that option as
BUGS, BUGS, BUGS
Camping trips in warm weather have to deal with insects.
There’s no getting around it, and planning to prevent–or treat–
bites and stings is not only important, but doing so can save a
Even kids dressed in protective clothing can still wind up bitten. Important supplies to carry are antihistamines like Benadryl, sting relief pads, and calamine lotion to deal with allergic
reactions. Ask your doctor for a prescription EpiPen®. This is
an easy-to-use injectable epinephrine solution that will treat
severe allergic reactions, also known as anaphylaxis.
Citronella-based products are helpful to repel insects but are
most effective on clothing as opposed to skin (absorbs too
quickly). Repellents containing DEET also can be used, but
not on children less than two years old.
Don’t forget to inspect daily for ticks or the “bulls-eye” rash
you might see in Lyme disease. If you can find and remove the
tick in the first 24 hours, you will rarely contract the disease.
THE ESSENTIAL FIRST AID KIT
Besides the usual equipment, insect repellants, and a way to
sterilize water, you will want to carry a medical kit to deal with
common problems. This should contain:
® Antiseptics to clean wounds (iodine pads are good)
® Bandages of different types and sizes: butterfly, roller, pads,
moleskin, elastic (Ace wraps)
® Cold packs to reduce swelling
® Splints (splints and larger
® Burn gel and non-stick
dressings like Telfa pads
® Nitrile gloves (some people
are allergic to latex)
® Bandannas or triangular
bandages with safety pins to
serve as slings
® Bandage scissors
® Tweezers (to remove splinters and ticks)
® Topical antibiotic cream and antiseptic wipes
® Medications like Benadryl, Tylenol, Advil, aspirin,
In addition, special medication for members of the family
with chronic conditions should be considered. Each person’s
medical kit should be a personal project; take whatever items
will help you deal with the likely issues you’ll encounter in your