TOPEKA — Sleeping bag? Check. Hiking boots? Check. Safety guidelines? While the preparations for a family camping, boating, or hiking trip usually include a review of the necessary gear, parents should also review safety guidelines with their children, paying special attention to potential hazards specific to outdoor recreation.
Campfires, portable stoves, heaters, and fuel-burning lanterns all produce carbon monoxide (CO), a colorless and odorless gas that can poison a child very quickly. About 30 campers each year die of CO poisoning in the U.S. Never use any of these devices in an enclosed area, even a tent. In addition, make sure these devices — as well as campfires — are clear of flammable material, from paper napkins to dry grass.
Safe Kids Kansas recommends these safety guidelines around campfires and portable heating devices:
- keep matches and lighters out of the reach of children;
- always supervise children near a campfire or portable stove; and
- keep a bucket of water and a shovel near the fire at all times and extinguish the fire completely before going to sleep or leaving the site.
- keep first aid supplies and emergency phone numbers handy and know where the nearest land-line phone is located;
- let friends and relatives know where you are going and when you are coming home;
- never let children hike alone;
- dress children in layers of clothing to help prevent heat-related illness and hypothermia;
- do not push kids to go on a longer or more strenuous hike than they can handle;
- use SPF 15 or higher sunscreen when outside;
- bring plenty of drinking water or sports drinks and high-energy snacks; and
- wear hiking boots and clothing that offers protection from scrapes and poisonous plants, as well as insect repellent.
- always supervise young children near water;
- insist that everyone wear personal flotation devices on boats;
- small children should wear PFDs whenever near open bodies of water;
- when boating, be able to recognize buoy markings and know how to use proper navigation lights;
- make sure boats have current safety inspections; and
- do not overload boats.