As many of us know hiking with children brings many challenges. One of these hurdles is always safety. The easiest way to make certain an outing doesn’t turn into a disaster is to be prepared. Having a fully stocked first aid kit handy ensures nothing will happen…well almost. As a Registered Nurse, I know injuries can occur ANYWHERE and without warning. And as a mother, I know having a few items on hand while on the trails can prevent a small inconvenience from becoming an ER visit.
I’ve made this list purposefully abbreviated for shorter day hikes. Longer treks into the backcountry would require a more thoroughly stocked medical kit. Such kits can be found through Adventure Medical Kits online at https://www.adventuremedicalkits.com/ or if you are inclined there are many lists to assemble your own as well. I found a very thorough list on REI’s site here http://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/first-aid-checklist.html It’s always a good idea to keep a complete kit in your car for easy use back at the trailhead.
Some of the most common injuries that occur on the trail include: sunburn, blisters, bug bites/stings, poison ivy/oak, twisted ankles, minor cuts/abrasions, and splinters. This list will alleviate many of these issues.
- Adhesive bandages: assorted sizes, fabric type preferred (but if your kids like mine the character ones fix EVERYTHING!)
- Gauze pads: selection of non-adherent sterile pads and dressing pads to stop bleeding
- Cotton tipped-swabs: for removing debris from an eye or applying ointment to a wound
- Antibacterial ointment
- Antiseptic wipes: alcohol wipes or BZK based
- Medical adhesive tape: 1”width 10yd roll minimum
- Ibuprofen/Tylenol: I would also include Aspirin for anyone with known heart conditions
- Antihistamine: to treat allergic reactions
- Baby wipes: any mother knows these have a thousand uses
- Sunscreen: for when you forget to apply beforehand or for reapplication
- Bug repellant
- Instant cold pack: sometimes an ice pack is all a kid needs to feel better
- Nitrile (non-latex) gloves, 2 pair
- Ace bandage
- 3-4 large safety pins: For a makeshift sling or to pick out a splinter among other uses
- Multitool: or small blunt end scissors and/or tweezers
- Personal medications: including Epipen for anaphylaxis and any inhalers
It is important to note that with children, liquid or chewable versions of these medications are available. I know my children can and will not swallow pills at this time. Many of these items can be bought in travel size or packaged and labeled individually. With all medication remember to describe on the package what it is, the dosage and when it expires if repacking yourself. All of these supplies should fit in a gallon zip lock plastic bag. There are many other watertight storage devices you can purchase as well. The idea is to keep this small enough that you will throw it in your pack each and every time you venture out.
Another useful hint for when hiking alone or just with your children is to include a laminated emergency contact information slip for each person going on the trail. Making one for each family member and attaching to packs or clothing with a safety pin or carabineer works well. This also ensures if a child gets separated even on short hikes they know who to contact.
A good example would include:
- Your name
- Your phone number
- Emergency contact person name and phone numbers
- Any allergies
- Other pertinent information or relevant medical history
Most important of all: use common sense! Many injuries can be prevented with a little knowledge and preparation. Let’s continue to make the outdoors fun and reasonably safe for our little adventurers!
Photo Credit: Brandy Brown
Brandi Akerberg resides in VA where she is a branch co-lead for Hike it Baby Fredericksburg, she currently occupies her days wrangling her two children and aging adventure dog Foster on any local adventure she can find. She is a Registered Nurse with a BSN and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Animal Science from Virginia Tech. When not feeding her wanderlust, she has a chronic addiction to Instagram where she posts pictures of her daily adventures as @vanursemom.