Camping is a wonderful time for families to unplug and connect without a USB cord in sight. Camping also provides great opportunities for kids to get exercise and to explore the wonders of nature. While there are many benefits of going camping, or even taking a stay-cation by camping in your backyard, there are some risks involved as well. We want to come home from our family camping trips with some mementos and some memories but no one wants to pack up the tents due to illness or injury.
Camping anytime of year can have some risks that can be greatly reduced by clearly establishing safety rules and boundaries. Discussing safety around campfires, rivers, camp stoves and fishing implements is critical. You’ve no doubt made your home baby proof and child safe and while you want to enjoy the great outdoors, parents will need to take some precautions to make their camp sight child safe too. Establish a safe, out of reach place for all:
*matches and lighters
*chemicals including bug sprays and fire starters
*knives, hatchets and other helpful but dangerous tools
So what can be unique about camping in the fall?
No doubt most fall campers would have to mention enjoying the brilliant colors of the fall leaves.
“It’s not so hot and it’s much more fun to sit around a campfire when it’s cool outside,” says Larry, father of two, who loves fall camping the best.
As an experienced camper, Larry knows that campfire safety is also important but he takes extra time to talk to his kids about how campfires in the fall.
“There are lots of dry leaves in the fall and kids need to understand how quickly dry leaves can catch on fire and quickly a forest fire can spread in the fall,” explains Larry. “It’s dryer and windier in the fall.”
Larry teaches his kids to rake the leaves away for several yards when building a campfire ring and to always have a water source available.
The weather is milder and dryer and this brings up another important safety tip for fall camping- appropriate footwear. Kids often want to follow a summer dress code during mild fall weather but flip flops and rubber shoes like “Crocs” are for camping. One jump off of a rock and into buried glass or jump off of log onto a rusty nail can send previously happy fall campers to the emergency room.
The second example is more anecdotal than theoretical. Our daughter ended up in the emergency room (with out of state medical fees no less) after a rusty nail impaled her Crocs shoe. The nurse in the ER shook her head and lamented on the number of cases of foot injuries from rubber shoes. Flip flops and Crocs may be great for the pool, but more heavy duty footwear is a must for fall hiking and camping when all sorts of puncture wound potential is waiting underfoot the fallen leaves.
Amy Crisp and her husband, Jerry and three children ages 2 to 11, also enjoy fall camping.
“There’s the sheer beauty of it with crisp, cool weather and the possibility of discovery,” says Amy.
One of the ways Amy’s kids love to “discover” is to dig in the leaves. Amy recognized both the fun and the dangers in kids digging through the leaves.
“The danger in digging in the leaves would be coming upon a spider or potentially harmful insect, so our rule is that we dig with a stick rather than our bare hands to avoid bites,” explains Amy.
Sure sticks and stones may break bones, or on the other hand provide hours of fall camping family fun. Fall camping is a great time to teach kids about both the wonders, as well as the safety risks, in the great outdoors.
Interview with Amy Crisp, November 11, 2010
Interview with Larry La Fon, November 13, 2010