Keeping Our Kids Safe in the Great Outdoors.
I have loved camping since I was a child and sharing this joy with my own children has been wonderful. I’ve had them out in the fields since they were babies and I relish the freedom that we experience as a family living outside.
We camp in a very basic way; no stove, no car, no blow up beds. Just our tents, our campfire and the great outdoors! The kids can run off and play in the trees, the dirt, the long grass and simply be called back to us when food is ready! To be able to do this there are a few basic rules that we follow to ensure maximum safety and optimum fun:
- When you arrive on a new site take the time to get to know the local geography with your children. You should be very clear on where the site entrance is, where the main road is and where the toilets are. It is also worth noting the boundaries of the farm or campsite and any items of geographical interest, for example knowing that the forest is on the right hand side of the field or that if you walk towards the big round hill you will find the office. Knowing that neither you or your child will get lost in an emergency situation is very useful and reassuring.
- If there is a site office then take your children there and introduce them to the members of staff. Do a little tour of the field you are staying in and introduce yourself and your children to other families that are nearby. Community is important and if we work together then we can all help to keep each other safe.
- I make clear boundaries with my children (i.e you can go as far as the blue gate at the bottom of the field. You are not to go into the next field without a grown up… and so on). This should be reiterated every time you allow your children to leave your immediate camping area without you. After the first time ask your children to tell you the boundaries - that way any misunderstandings can be cleared up before they become a problem!
- Identify any water on site. This could include streams, ponds or even large puddles! Ditches that fill with water when it rains are common on campsites and farms and can also cause a hazard. Remember that a child can drown in less than an inch of water so it’s worth being cautious about this one. Never leave children unattended when swimming or paddling and make sure they know not to go near water without you.
- Safety around fire is crucial. Make sure your children are involved in building the first fire you have on site, this is a brilliant way of making sure they learn to be safe around the flames. Teach them how little kindling you need to make fire - it will show them how easily fire can spread. Teach them to keep their distance, to move around the fire carefully and that even the ashes around the fire will be hot - often even in the morning!
- Keep warm! Evening in the outdoors can come along quickly and with little warning. Remember that the dew will drop too. At the first signs of sundown make sure that anything you would like to stay dry is inside the tents, away from the tent walls. Ensure that you and your kids put on layers whilst you are still warm - it’s hard to warm up again once the cold gets to you. I often put pyjamas on my children at this point and then layer them up with jumpers, tracksuits bottoms and coats. This way they can simply strip off extra layers when they get into their sleeping bags. Leave a pile of warm clothes next to their sleeping bag that can be put on in the morning too.
By Ingrid Wakeling