Spring 2010

The Great Outdoors

Fun and Safety Go Hand-in-Hand


Central Texans are lucky to have a wealth of parks, greenbelts and hike & bike trails close to home that offer great opportunities for outdoor fun. But before hitting the road with your family, don't forget to take some simple safety precautions that will help make your outing one to remember.

Outdoor Safety

  • Keep first aid supplies and emergency telephone numbers accessible at all times.
  • Know where the nearest telephone or ranger station is located and, if possible, carry a cell phone.
  • Dress children in several layers of clothing. The inner layer should be a breathable, synthetic material that pulls moisture from the skin. Remember, a child's body temperature changes faster than adults.
  • Check the weather forecast before you leave.
  • Pack essentials such as flashlights, extra food, water and rain gear in case of bad weather.
  • Make sure sleeping bags are clean, warm and dry.
  • Inform others where you're going and when you'll return.
  • Share these tips with your kids so they'll know how to be safe and responsible in the outdoors.


  • Teach children to never hike alone; they should always go with an adult.
  • Map out your hiking trail ahead of time. Be sure any trail you choose is well marked and do not stray from it.
  • Learn to use a compass.
  • Be sure children are physically capable to make the hike in terms of distance, pace and difficulty.
  • Bring plenty of drinking water. Hiking can cause dehydration.
  • Bring high-energy snacks.
  • Bring extra layers of clothing and rain gear in case the weather suddenly changes.
  • Wear proper hiking boots and clothing that covers as much exposed skin as possible to protect from scrapes, bites and poisonous plants.
  • Tell others where you're hiking and when you'll return.
  • Keep first aid supplies accessible at all times, even on short hikes.

Plants, Insects and Animals

  • Teach children to stay clear of poison ivy and poison oak. Show them pictures of these plants before your trip.
  • Teach children to stay away from all plants and wild berries unless you are certain they are safe. The best recommendation is to stay away from plants you do not recognize.
  • Apply insect repellent to a child's clothing and exposed skin. Some repellents are too strong for small children, so consult medical personnel. Always have an adult apply the insect repellent and follow the product's instructions.
  • Avoid using scented products such as perfumes and shampoos that attract insects.
  • Shake out all clothing before wearing it.
  • After spending time outdoors, check clothing and exposed skin for ticks and other insects.
  • Teach children not to disturb or provoke any animals they may encounter. Although an animal may look friendly, sudden actions could frighten it and provoke an attack.
  • Never leave a child alone with an animal, even if you believe the animal is harmless.
  • Teach children to watch out for snakes and never to touch or disturb them.

Campfires and Stoves

  • Always supervise children near a campfire or portable stove. Teach them to stay away from campfires and stoves, even when not in use.
  • When making a campfire pit, be sure it is large enough to keep a fire from spreading.
  • Avoid building fires on windy days.
  • Always check the fire danger levels posted at the entrances of wilderness parks and camping areas. Each day, the park or forest ranger reports on the level of danger from fire. Do not build a fire if the park recommends against it.
  • Keep a bucket of water and shovel near the fire at all times.
  • Keep matches and lighters out of children's reach. Never use matches or lighters inside tents.
  • Never burn charcoal or use portable camping heaters, lanterns or stoves inside tents, campers or vehicles.
  • Be aware of potential sources of carbon monoxide poisoning. They include commonly used camping equipment such as portable camping heaters, lanterns and vehicles.

Source: Safe Kids USA


Good Health for Kids is produced by Dell Children's Medical Center of Central Texas.