A Walk on the Wild Side: Tips for Safe Hiking and Camping

When heading out with your family for a hike, picnic or camping expedition this summer, keep these tips in mind:

Bring a first-aid kit stocked with sunscreen and insect repellent; fever medication; bandages, gauze dressings, adhesive tape and ointment; tweezers; safety pins; a small flashlight; a cell phone, pre-paid phone or calling cards and/or change for telephone calls; and a pencil and small notebook.

Keep children in sight at all times during outings. If you’re going to a remote area, let someone know where you’ll be.

Take measures to reduce the chance of insect bites and stings (see Don't Get Stung!).

Teach your child to recognize and avoid poison ivy. Remember, “leaves of three, let them be.” Poison ivy has three pointy leaves that are glossy green (or red in the fall). Most poison ivy is found at the edges of woods, roads and waterways, or under telephone wires and around trees. In case of exposure, wash the skin and under the fingernails within 10 minutes of contact. Also, wash anything, especially clothing, that may have come in contact with the plant.

Watch out for poisonous plants. Teach your child not to taste berries, wild mushrooms, roots or leaves.

Prevent food poisoning. Keep meats, poultry and frozen foods cold. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap after handling them and before you touch other foods. Cook foods completely, and don’t let them sit out for more than a brief time in warm weather.

Beware of lightning. If there is threat of an electrical storm, take shelter in a building, an enclosed car or in thick woods. If there is no shelter, teach your child to crouch in a low-lying area and make as little contact with the ground as possible. Avoid open fields, isolated trees, parking lots, water and metal objects during electrical storms.


Don't Get Stung! Bee stings can send some people into life-threatening anaphylaxis shock. Get the facts that could save a child's life.