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5 Safety Tips for Camping with Kids

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Camping is a great family activity, but exposing kids to the outdoors can lead to unnecessary safety risks. As a parent, you are responsible for teaching your children not only about the wonders of nature, but also about its hidden dangers. Anything could happen while in the wild, so here are five camping safety tips to keep kids safe while exploring the wilderness.

Dad and kids around a camp fire

Family camping is fun but not without dangers (Photo credit: Wollwerth,

1. Wear the right clothes.

Temperatures rise and there is no thermostat to regulate the outdoors. The only way to cope with weather changes is to protect your kids with the proper clothes. Dressing in layers keeps children warm, while letting them peel off the outer layers when they feel hot. Be sure to bring lightweight jackets, hats, and caps in case it rains as well as hiking boots for rough terrain.

The right clothes and the right shoes make family camping easier and safer

The right clothes and the right shoes make family camping easier and safer (Photo credit: jowka23,

2. Always drink purified water.

Bring bottled water for you and your family when camping with your children. You never know what illnesses your family could get from drinking water with contaminants. Common camper’s sicknesses like diarrhea, stomachaches, and bloating come from drinking unclean H2O.

Since bottled water can be difficult to carry, consider packing iodine tablets instead. They dissolve quickly into the water and kill parasites, bacteria, and other contaminants. You can also boil water to remove harmful germs.

Be sure to use iodine tablets or boil water when camping

Be sure to use iodine tablets or boil water when camping (Photo credit: Maridav,

3. Pack all your food.

While foraging for berries “survivor style” looks like something your children might want to try, it’s not really in their best interest. Wild berries are best left for bears. (It’s a good idea to pack some bear spray, too, just in case you get any wild visitors at camp!)

Instead, bring all of your food with you, even if you are planning to camp for an entire week. Trail mix, granola bars, fruits, and breads are portable for carrying to the campsite without being too much of a bother. And they are nutritious enough to keep you and the kids well fed and healthy during the camping trip. Take a look at additional travel snack ideas and this family camping cookbook. You’ll also want to pack a fire extinguisher to ensure safety around your campfire and camp stove.

Beware of poisonous but tasty-looking berries when camping with kids

Beware of poisonous but tasty-looking berries when camping with kids (Photo credit: viktori-art,

4. Beware of poisonous plants and insects.

While you can apply topical treatments to cure insect bites, you can’t do much about poison oak, ivy, and sumac except to tell your kids not to go near any of these plants. Even before you get the tent and the sleeping bags ready, show your children photos of poisonous plants that you may encounter during the trip and tell them not to touch anything that looks like the items in the pictures.

Insects, on the other hand, can be kept away with citronella-based repellents applied to your child’s skin. If all else fails and your kid contracts an insect bite allergy (noted by hives, swelling, and in severe cases, difficulty breathing) an antihistamine like Benedryl can help while you rush to the nearest hospital.

Looking out for poison ivy and other dangerous plants is one of these important camping safety tips

Look out for poison ivy and other dangerous plants (Photo credit: robeo123,

5. Teach kids how to react to emergencies.

Whether we like it or not, kids may get lost or eat a poisonous berry on a family camping trip. When crunch time comes, you have to be ready to deal with health issues.

In addition, your child has to know how to let you know they are in danger. Hang a whistle on a lanyard around your child’s neck. Teach your child, when in danger, to blow the whistle three times. This is the universal call for help. But tell kids this is only for emergencies in order to prevent unnecessary alarm.

Camping safety tip: bring a whistle for every member of the family

A whistle can be a lifesaver on your family camping trip (Photo credit: agnieszka_g,

Learn more about camping and nature exploration.

For more information, take a look at how to camp with kids from a family camping expert.

First time camping? Read about what to buy or borrow for your camping trip.

In addition to camping trips, take a look at these ways to connect kids with nature while traveling.

Camping Safety Tips for Families

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Do you have any additional camping safety tips to share? Let us know in the comments below! 

  1. Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

    Belle – Thank you for these fabulous tips! I love the whistle idea and reminder to bring along an anthistimine for an unexpected allergic reaction.

  2. Camping with kids is fun, but it is important to remain mindful that there are dangers when staying outdoors and what was fun can so quickly turn to disaster. Your post outlines some excellent ways to stay safe while still having fun. Good work!

  3. Great advice for family campers – except, let’ em eat the berries. As an avid wilderness camper one of the great pleasures of being in the wild is coming across a bounty of wild blueberries, strawberries, blackberries or raspberries. I have eaten all of these in the wild and the store bought berries simply cannot compare. The key to doing this with kids is teaching them to know what is good and what is not. Make sure they ask Mom or Dad to confirm that a given berry is safe. If Mom or Dad don’t know then they ought to learn so their children can get the full camping experience.

  4. Great suggestions for having a successful and safe camping trip with your family. Thanks for sharing this post with your readers.

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