well-stocked first-aid kit, kept within easy reach, is a necessity in every home/trailer. Having supplies gathered ahead of
time will help you handle an emergency at a moment’s notice. You should
keep one first-aid kit in your home and one in each car (ATV in our case). Also be sure to bring a first-aid kit on family
containers for your kits that are roomy, durable, easy to carry, and simple to open. Plastic tackle boxes or containers for
storing art supplies are ideal, since they’re lightweight, have handles, and offer a lot of space.
the following in each of your first-aid kits:
What about Ipecac?
syrup used to be a must-have for every home first-aid kit, but there’s no evidence that it helps a child who’s
swallowed a poison. Parents should not use ipecac-they should call Poison Control at (800)222-1222 or 911 in
case of an emergency.
Adhesive bandages in several sizes
Antiseptic solution (like hydrogen peroxide)
Hydrocortisone cream (1%)
Acetaminophen and ibuprofen
Extra prescription medications (if the family is
going on vacation)
Disposable instant cold packs
Alcohol wipes or ethyl alcohol
Plastic gloves (at least 2 pairs)
Flashlight and extra batteries
Your list of emergency phone numbers
Blanket (stored nearby)
After you’ve stocked your first-aid kits:
Read the entire first-aid manual so you’ll
understand how to use the contents of your kit. (If your children are old enough to understand, review the manuals with them
Store first-aid kits in places that are out of children’s
reach but easily accessible for adults.
Check the kits regularly. Replace missing items or
medications that may have expired.
and reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
reviewed: September 2007
Woods and Camping Safety for the Whole Family
family camping trip can be an enjoyable experience with a little preparation. Knowing everyone’s limits, taking the
time to plan ahead, and packing the right items will help your adventure come off without a hitch. Here are the down-and-dirty
basics of woods and camping safety.
you’re not skilled in the outdoors, begin your adventures by taking day trips. But even then be aware of camping safety
issues, such as bug bites and stings; plants that may cause rashes and allergic reactions; exposure to heat, wind, water,
and cold; and getting lost.
families feel comfortable with their camping skills, they may want to plan a few days or a week in a wilderness park. But
first, gather information from park rangers, read guide books about the terrain and weather, and talk with campers who’ve
Common Camping Dangers
common mistake made by camping families is not being ready for seasonal transitions regarding proper clothing and equipment.
Storms blow in and out during all seasons, and there can be sudden shifts in temperatures in spring and fall, particularly
on high mountains. Precipitations and wind lead to rapid cooling, especially when temperatures drop at nightfall.
heat can be a problem for young children, whose sweat glands are not fully developed until adolescence. On hot days, hike
in the cooler mornings and evenings. During the day, spend time in shaded areas. Wear skin protection whenever you or your
kids are exposed to the sun, including hats, sunscreen, and cotton clothes.
common problem is getting lost. Teach your kids how to recognize landmarks at
the campsite and on hikes. While hiking, encourage them to turn around and look at the trail to familiarize themselves with
their surroundings. Teach them to remain where they are and stay calm if they are lost. Kids should wear whistles (whistles
can be heard father away than the human voice) and know the universal help signal of three blows or loud sounds. Try to take
your cell phone along in case you can get a signal.
your trip, look for a local class or go online to find out more about map reading and finding directions. For wilderness trekking,
always carry a topographical map and compass.
protect against sudden temperature and weather changes, wear multi-layered clothing made of polyester, polypropylene, and
wool. Layers of clothing-such as tank tops, long –sleeved shirts, and sweaters-will allow you to reduce or increase
clothing as needed. To protect against rain and wind, bring breathable, lightweight
waterproof jackets and pants.
family members need comfortable hiking shoes to prevent blistering. When hiking, tuck pant cuffs into socks and boots to protect
against ticks. Kids should wear brightly colored clothes to increase visibility. Caps or hats will help guard against the
sun and protect against insects.
Setting Up a Campsite
hazards such as forest fires and fallen trees are less likely to be encountered at campgrounds that can be accessed by cars.
But other dangers lurk, such as broken glass, discarded needles, and other hazardous trash.
the area before setting up a tent. In wilderness areas, look for signs of animal and insect use; for example, yellow jacket
wasps build their nest on the ground. If berries are plentiful at a site, bears may forage for food there.
build a firepit, look for a clearing and previous firepits. During fire-hazard periods and any dry season use portable stoves
rather than campfires.
Drinking the Water
that all wilderness streams and creeks are potentially contaminated water sources due to domestic and wild animals. Glardia
lamblia, a common parasitic contaminant, can cause nausea, bloating, gas, stomach cramps, and explosive diarrhea leading to
you are unable to bring bottled water with you on your trip or your supply runs out, iodine is a inexpensive and easy way
to purify water (you can by iodine tablets that dissolve in the water). You’ll need to check the expiration date before
using. You can also use water filters. Boiling is an excellent method for purifying water, but it takes a lot of time, energy,
and recourses; also, appropriate boiling times are uncertain because boiling points vary according to elevation.
Food Supplies and Foraging
your meals according to how many days you will be on a trip, and then bring extra food. Pack plenty of portable foods, such
as granola bars, packaged trail mix, breads, peanut butter, fruit, and other camping-friendly foods. You can even purchase dehydrated meals that only require the addition of water. It’s best to leave
foraging for berries to the animals because it’s easy to mistake toxic berries for edible ones that can make someone
pretty sick and ruin the entire trip.
Plants and Insects
plants to be wary of are poison oak, sumac and ivy. Show your kids pictures of these plants before your trip, and if in doubt,
avoid touching any unknown plants. Dress your kids in long-sleeved shirts and pants to protect the skin from exposure to plants
that may cause allergic reactions. You can apply protective products before hiking that will act as a barrier against the
oils of the plants. Any area that comes in contact with poisonous plant should
be washed immediately with cool water to help remove the oil that causes the allergic reaction. Calamine lotion or hydrocortisone
cream (1%) may help to stop the itching that’s common with poison ivy.
taken by mouth are effective for allergic reactions or itchy rashes-from contact with poison ivy to mosquito bites to bee
and wasp stings. Use citronella-based products to repel insect and put it on clothing instead of skin whenever possible. Repellents containing DEET also can be used.
Choose a repellent that contains no more than 10% to 30% DEET; in higher concentrations, the chemical (which is absorbed
through the skin) can be toxic. Be sure to follow directions on the label. DEET- containing products should be used on children
older than 2 years.
camping concern is ticks, which can carry several types of infections, including Lyme disease. Check your kids at the end
of each day for ticks. Examine places where ticks like to hide, like behind the
ears, in the scalp, under the arms, and in the groin area. Be aware of the typical rash seen in some patients with Lyme disease-a
red ring that may grow to about 2 inches in diameter around the bite appearing about a week after the tick bite.
kids that animals in the wild are strong and agile, and will defend themselves and their young if threatened. Children should
not approach wild animals, even small ones, and should never feed them. Don’t
leave kids unsupervised-small children, especially, are vulnerable. Instruct
them to stay calm and call loudly for help if they encounter a wild animal.
ask the park rangers about wild animals in your wilderness park. Keep the campsite free of food odors and do no bring food
into tents. Pack food in your cars overnight; if you’re going on a long camping trip, pack food in resalable plastic
bags and animal-resistant containers.
What to Pack
for every camping trip include:
Map of the area
Flashlight with extra batteries and bulbs
Extra clothing, including rain gear
Sunglasses and sunscreen
Matches in waterproof container
Candle or fire starter
Adequate supply of clean drinking water
Appropriate insect repellents
necessary items include;
full water bottles for hikes
a waterproof and lightweight tent
ground insulation for sleeping
a blanket for emergencies
signaling device such as a whistle, mirror, pocket
flare, walkie-talkie or cell phone
50 to 100 feet of nylon rope
a first-aid kit that includes:
Adhesive and butterfly bandages
Self-adhesive roller bandages
Sterile gauze pads
A cold pack
Large wound dressings
Cloth-based adhesive tape
Elastic bandages (band-aids)
Large plastic bag
Tweezers and needles (to remove splinters or ticks)
Oral antihistamine (such as Benadryl)
Medications for pain or fever, such as acetaminophen
Hydrocortisone cream (1%)
addition, bring a liquid antiseptic soap to clean wounds. Don’t forget extra protective dressings for severe arm or
leg blisters. Knowing how to make a splint in case of injury is also useful and can be learned in first-aid classes.
Camping Emergency Basics
the case of an emergency, the most important thing is to remain calm. During an emergency, families need to decide together
on the best plan of action, examining the resources available. Before your trip, notify friends and families of your destination
and time of return. And sign up at park registers before and after wilderness treks
your kids have whistles and were instructed to wait in a sheltered area if they get lost, you should be able to find them
more readily. If you bring a cell phone, make sure it is charged.
stay on the safe side when setting boundaries for family camping. The more remote
your location, the more care you should take in choosing your activities. Survey campsites for riverbanks and cliffs. Check
out climbing trees for dead branches and moss, both of which cause falls.
preparing for camping will let the whole family enjoy the great outdoors safely.
by: Kate M. Cronan, MD
reviewed: May 2008