Article at a Glance
Utah is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise. It is hard to think of a state better suited for camping and enjoying the great outdoors.
But camping and hiking can bring a wide range of safety issues that we don’t typically have to deal with. Planning ahead and teaching your children some basic safety guidelines can help keep everybody safe.
When camping or hiking the weather can change dramatically, particularly in the mountains or desert. So when you pack be sure to plan for a little of everything—hot, cold, wind, snow, and rain. It also pays to do some research into what kind of weather to expect. In the spring and fall, the weather can be particularly unpredictable.
For hot weather, you should pack cotton clothes, hats, and sunscreen. You should also plan any hikes for the cooler parts of the day. For rain, it is a good idea to bring a lightweight, waterproof pair of pants and jacket.
Layering is a great way to prepare yourself for different temperatures. It makes it easy to add or take off clothing as needed.
You will also want to bring a good pair of hiking shoes. Make sure you break them in first so that you don’t end up with blisters. Dressing your kids in bright colors can also make it easier to keep an eye on them.
When in unfamiliar surroundings it can be easy to get lost. While hiking, keep an eye out for landmarks and take time to become familiar with your surroundings. It is a good idea to teach your children how to do the same in case they become separated from you. Teach your children that if they do get lost, to stay calm and to stay where they are. It is also a good idea to have them carry a whistle. The sound of a whistle can be heard much further away than the human voice.
Never drink untreated water. The water in rivers and lakes could be contaminated. If your campground does not provide drinkable water, bring your own water or a method of water purification.
Some berries found in the wild are poisonous. It is best to play it safe and leave them alone. You will also need to watch out for poison ivy, oak, and sumac. The oils on these plants can cause a red and itchy rash or blisters when they come in contact with your skin. Teach your children what these plants look like so that they know what to avoid. It also helps to wear long sleeves and pants and to stay on marked trails.
Ticks can carry Lyme disease, a bacterial infection that can cause serious complications if left untreated. Prevent tick bites by tucking your pants into your socks when hiking, especially if walking through tall grasses. At the end of the day check yourself and your children for ticks. The longer a tick remains on your skin the more likely it is to transmit the disease. If you have been bitten by a tick and experience a red, ringed rash around the bite, flu-like symptoms, joint pain, or neurological problems, contact your doctor immediately.
Children are used to pets and often forget that animals in the wild are not tame. They can bite and will defend themselves and their young. Don’t feed or touch animals in the wild, even if they appear to be tame. Anything from a squirrel, to a deer, to a mountain lion can be dangerous. Before you go hiking or camping, find out if there are any particularly dangerous animals in the area and how to best respond if you encounter one.
Before you leave, make sure somebody else knows where you are going and when you plan on returning. And make room for a well-equipped first aid kit. There won’t be a drugstore around the corner, so if something happens you will want what you need on hand. Use caution while hiking, climbing, and swimming. In case there is an emergency, stay calm. Take time to figure out what resources you have available and the best course of action.