If you were thinking about packing up the tent until spring, think again. Winter provides the perfect opportunity to take your children camping, and showing them the beauty of the environment in a totally different way can be a fun and rewarding getaway. Of course, we have to take different precautions in winter to ensure everyone comes home safe and happy. Below, the top five safety issues to consider for your next winter camping trip:
Nothing beats standing around a roaring fire toasting marshmallows with your family. Campfires provide warmth, light and a beautiful ambience quite unlike anything else. However, accidents can happen around fires so it is absolutely paramount that everyone, particularly children are safe and cautious around campfires. Campfires can burn at around 650° Celsius – hot enough to melt aluminium – and the coals can retain heat for well over 8 hours.
Ensure children know the importance of fire safety before you leave for your trip and encourage them to always walk around the campsite. Never leave small children alone around a campfire and as a general rule put out fires with water- not sand, as this can hold in heat.
Dehydration & Hypothermia
The excitement of exploring a new area takes a lot of energy. And while it might seem more like a summer safety issue, dehydration can be a real problem in winter. The addition of all those extra layers causes our bodies to work harder and produce more sweat that we might not replace with enough water.
Make sure everyone is drinking plenty of fluids even if they aren’t thirsty. Know the signs of hypothermia and what to do should someone in your family start presenting them. Ask everyone in the family to keep an eye out for the signs. If you suspect one of your group might have hypothermia, act quickly, and if possible get them to a hospital.
Spider and Insect Bites
Some of the creepy crawlies you might come across on your camping trip can be annoying, but more or less harmless. There are some that can be problematic though.
In the Australian outback, we are presented with quite a list of venomous bugs and spiders but it’s still no reason to avoid the great outdoors! Simply being aware of the kinds of creatures that are found in your chosen area, and educating everyone in your family about what can be harmful is a step in the right direction. Things like mosquitos aren’t really an issue in winter, but it’s a good idea to wear repellent to keep any nasties away.
- Spiders can still be lurking about in winter and curious hands can often find them.
- Antihistamines help swelling and reduce itching. Pain killers are useful for taking the edge off pain for a while.
- Be aware of the appropriate First Aid for spider bites and if symptoms worsen, get to the closest hospital.
The new environment is there to be explored, and excited minds can wander further away than intended.
- Before leaving home, provide children with their own backpack with essentials, should they find themselves alone. Include things like a good trekking pole, torch, water bottles, a snack and a waterproof coat in a bright colour. Every family member should be given their own whistle to blow if they find themselves separated from mum or dad.
- Explain the importance of staying put when they realise they might be lost, and staying calm.
- Establish permitters with your family when you first arrive at the campsite, especially for young children who might get disorientated. If your children want to explore the area some more, offer to take them.
The ground in the outdoors is definitely not as level as your backyard! Your campsite might have uneven ground, holes left from previous campers, or long grass hiding irregular surfaces that might be wet and slippery. Accidents can happen, and falls, bumps, grazes and even sprained ankles in some cases can occur. While these minor ailments might not be a huge deal (or out of the ordinary), they do need to be treated as soon as possible. Make sure your first aid kit is well stocked with alcohol or antibacterial wipes, band aids, gauze and bandages – and know how to strap a sprained ankle!
Camping is nothing to be afraid of, and winter camping can be a whole new experience for your family. Always remember to pack your first aid kit and have it well stocked. If your child has allergies, make sure the appropriate medicine is packed and you have enough to get you through your trip. Be aware of the closest hospital and have ranger information on hand in case of an emergency. But most of all, have fun camping this winter!