Spending time outdoors is something all kids love to do, and it’s beneficial for their development. Whether it’s playing sports, hiking, or camping, kids can enjoy the outdoors for hours on end. However, while parents might assess a park or nature reserve as a safe green space for playing, it’s necessary to be vigilant and follow some outdoor safety tips.
When taking children outdoors, some critical safety considerations include maintaining hydration and establishing boundaries for where they can venture on their own. Taking precautions before sending the kids out to play can prevent unnecessary health or safety complications down the line.
Make Sure Your Child Stays Hydrated
Kids aren’t always big fans of water’s plain flavor, and because it’s not delicious, they don’t always remember to drink enough of it. Children also won’t recognize dehydration symptoms in their own body, which is why it’s critical for parents to monitor them and help them get enough water when they’re playing outdoors.
Ensure you have plenty of water with you and offer it to your child regularly.
Use Appropriate Sunscreen
One of the first things you should do before taking your kids outside is lathering them in sunscreen. A sunburn can be uncomfortable, and it increases their chances of developing skin cancer later in life.
Always use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher. If your kids are swimming or sweating, you’ll need to be diligent about reapplying the sunscreen more frequently than the bottle directs.
Survey the Outdoor Space
When letting your kids play in a park or outdoor space, check the surrounding area for any possible risks. The potential risks in a park or nature reserve are many and varied. For example, there could be a road or bike path passing through the park close to where your child is playing.
There might also be bodies of water such as ponds or canals in some parks, which present a danger if a child is left unattended nearby. It’s easy for a kid running around to trip and fall into the water. You should never leave a child alone near a body of water.
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Establish Safe Areas and Boundaries
It’s a good idea to establish safe areas and limits within the larger outdoor area your kids are playing in. When taking kids to small urban parks, communicate that anything outside the park’s greenspace is off-limits. Urban parks often have roads nearby, which pose a hazard to unaware youngsters.
When letting your kids play in larger parks, establish a safe zone so they don’t wander off into the woods. Choose an area of space that isn’t too big and that you can easily view from where you’re sitting. In forests or mountains, it’s easy to lose sight of kids behind bushes or trees.
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Educate Kids About Stranger Danger and Wandering Off Alone
These are two of the most important safety considerations when letting kids play outside. Make sure your child understands he or she shouldn’t talk to strangers. Also, show them that it’s not appropriate to take food or other items from adults they don’t know.
Ensure your children also know how to ask for help if they are lost and what kinds of people they can trust. For example, if they are lost, they can ask for a policeman’s help or talk to other parents with kids in the park.
For extra security, consider purchasing a child tracking GPS for your kid to use when you’re heading to busy outdoor areas. These small devices fit inside your child’s pocket or backpack and can provide you with real-time updates about your kid’s location, making it easy to track their whereabouts at all times.
Appropriate Clothing for Each Activity and Season
What your child wears might not seem like a safety consideration, but it’s essential to dress for conditions when playing outdoors. When hiking or playing outside, thin and long-sleeved clothing is best because it’s breathable and offers some protection from the sun and plants.
Seasons change fast, and sometimes temperatures can drop suddenly, especially if you’re at a higher elevation. Ensure your child is always dressed warmly enough in the autumn and winter seasons. When playing out in the snow, always use gloves, hats, or neck gaiters.
Bike riding is a favorite activity among children, and to ensure their safety, they must always wear a good helmet that fits snugly. A helmet could save your kid’s life or prevent a severe brain injury if they crash.
Kids are always growing, so you should check that the helmet fits them comfortably at the beginning of each summer season when kids tend to ride their bikes more frequently around the neighborhood or in parks.
Get a First Aid Kit
Keeping a small first aid kit at home or in the car is an excellent way to prepare for any possible cuts, bruises, or minor injuries. It’s very common for kids playing outside, even in their backyard, to cut themselves on a rock or experience a nasty fall, and reacting quickly can minimize the damage.
A basic first aid kit should include band-aids, antiseptic wipes, gauze pads, scissors, tweezers, hydrogen peroxide, and instant cold packs.
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Use Caution for Swimming and Water Sports
It’s critical to take the necessary safety precautions when letting your kids play at a pool, lake, or beach. According to the Center For Disease Control And Prevention, drowning is the leading cause of death for children between 1 and 4 years old. For kids between 1 and 14, drowning is the second most common cause of death.
Children should always be supervised by a capable adult when they’re in the water, and kids who can’t swim independently should be fitted with a lifejacket or water wings. Enforce pool deck rules like no running and no diving in the shallow end.
Avoid Poisonous Plants
Most kids are online nowadays, and they have access to YouTube, video games, and television, which often involve imaginary characters foraging in nature. Some first-person video games involve eating wild plants and other foods found outdoors.
While many parents want to instill a love of the outdoors in their children, it’s also essential to make sure they understand they shouldn’t eat plants found in the wild. Talk to your child about the dangers of wild flora and fauna to ensure they know they shouldn’t eat plants they find in nature without your consent.
Enjoy Playing Outside With Your Kids
Don’t let possible dangers stop you from letting your kids play outside and enjoy a carefree childhood. Things like minor bruises and cuts are just a part of the learning experience for children.
However, you should establish some basic rules for outdoor play to keep your kid safe and avoid serious injuries or accidents. By talking about these guidelines, you can let your child enjoy the great outdoors while you relax and watch them grow.