When I first thought about taking up hiking with my daughter, the word that instantly came to mind was safety. How will I keep her safe? What gear does she need to be prepared for the trails? What if something happens to her? Caring for our children is a natural instinct and hiking can be safe if you take the proper precautions. Obviously, there are things you need to take into consideration, such as your child’s age and health. Please consult with a doctor beforehand if this may be a strenuous activity for your child. I will tell you though, that children LOVE the outdoors. I know for a fact that my active 2-year-old will choose nature over being inside the house – and with this pandemic, we have to get creative to keep her busy. With all of this that comes to mind, here are 8 safety rules to follow when hiking with kids.

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Dress for the Occasion – Wear Bright Clothing

I’m not going to sugarcoat things, because keeping our children safe is extremely important. You have to dress for the occasion and I mean, put on bright colors! This for yourself too, but bright colors like neon, yellow, orange, and greens will keep your children visible from any place. The statistics are high for missing children and I don’t wish this upon anyone, but bright colors will keep them seen! Plus, it’s easier to spot when your child is walking ahead of you. I’ve gotten so used to buying shirts and outfits that are unique and POP because nobody forgets the kid wearing a bright neon yellow jacket.

Bring your First Aid Kit

I know this is a no-brainer, but believe me that I’ve forgotten to take my first aid kit on a hiking trip one time. I tend to keep one at home, in my car, and now in my hiking backpack! The one time that my daughter fell and I didn’t have my kit handy, I was upset that I couldn’t safely clean her scab. Although the first-aid kit stays with me, I still like to add a travel case inside my daughter’s backpack. I personally recommend this travel first-aid kit, but my all-time favorite item is the active skin repair for kids! I promise you that you’re going to love this spray – it’s perfect for bruises, sunburns, cuts, and rashes. Plus it doesn’t burn your kid when you apply.

Get the Right Gear – The Emergency Whistle

You wouldn’t go to a swimming class with work clothing on, right? So you need to bring the proper hiking gear for your kids! Here is a list of important gear your kid should have:

  • Hiking Shoes
  • Jacket (for cold/rainy weather)
  • Cap/Beanie
  • Gloves (for cold weather)
  • Wool Socks (pack extra pairs too!)
  • Undergarments (if your kid is potty-training)

Aside from this gear, you should also let your child carry an emergency whistle! Should your child get lost, this emergency whistle will be a life-saver! This gear can also keep your child safe when hiking with changing weather temperatures, keep them from dehydrating, and preventing hypothermia.

Snacks and More Snacks

You should always pack a good amount of snacks and water. Food even (sandwiches, burritos, if you want to get creative.) Children need 1-2 cups of water every hour when hiking – so make sure to always come prepared. We always take 2.5 liters of water in our hiking backpacks and also our water bottles. If your child is able to carry a backpack, let them carry a small water bottle as well. Or, another alternative is the LifeStraw, which we also have for emergencies! I like to cut up apple slices, orange slices, and have a banana in my backpack for when my child is hungry or fatigue from walking.

Follow the Marked Trails

Marked trails are there for a reason! Following all safety precautions by taking marked trails will keep you on track to your destination. I use the AllTrails app on my phone, so if it’s a trail that is not on there, I won’t take it. Teaching your children that the trails are there for safety will help them learn as they get older. Reminding them the ‘leave no trace’ rule, will also help them stay on marked trails and keep our environment clean and untouched.

Keep Your Kids in Close Range

Yes, if we kept an eye on our kids 100% of the time, they would be completely safe all the time. But when you’re out hiking, it’s easy to get lost in nature and let your kids roam around to also explore. While there is nothing wrong with exploring, some hiking trails have large rocks, bumpy trails, mountains! It is important to always keep an eye on them and keep them close. Even if you’re not watching them 100% of the time, keeping them close will put your mind at ease that they are safe. If you are hiking in a group, get your friends or family to help! Please don’t be distracted by your phone! I don’t know how many times I’ve read an article where there was an accident, because someone was taking a selfie. Keep your kids in close range and enjoy the nice outdoors with your family!

Use Sunscreen

I’m a big fan of spray sunscreen and it keeps your kids safe from harmful sun rays while choosing the natural way. To protect them from getting sun-burned and keeping their skin healthy, sunscreen is a must when you’re being safe while hiking. There’s not much to it, but the last thing we want is to end a hiking trip with having to treat painful sunburns.

Teach Emergency Rules

Be prepared for emergencies. Mock an emergency with your kids at home. What happens if your child does get LOST? The best way is to teach your child the emergency rules (especially if they are older to understand). Some points that are essential to discuss with your child are to teach them how to dial for 9-1-1, in case of an emergency. Discussing with them what an emergency could look like:

  • You don’t see mommy or daddy, look for people to call out for help
  • If you can’t find anyone, scream out for HELP
  • If your voice hurts, blow your emergency whistle or emergency alarm

Since my child is still a toddler, I have to prepare for emergencies in a different way. You can buy Safety Bands online that can include a phone number for people to call you, if your child is lost. There are also GPS trackers that your child can wear, like the SafeBand or Jiobit (which rely on a SIM card being installed).

Whichever route you choose to keep your kids safe when hiking, remember to have fun! With all the worries a parent will have when hiking with their kids, as long as you are prepared, you have nothing to worry about. As I mentioned earlier, I use my AllTrails app for everything and one of the ways I take an extra step to keep my daughter safe is to choose kid-friendly hikes. Since we have the Osprey carrier, I know that my daughter will be safe with me if we ever decide to take a longer or strenuous hiking trail. These 8 Safety Rules will otherwise still be my priority whether a hiking trail is kid-friendly or not. What are some other ways you have chosen to keep your kids safe while hiking?