By Luul Mohamed and Alicia Youssef
With school over and summer officially under way, a camping trip can be an enjoyable activity to share with your family and friends. Take advantage of these tips to have a fun and safe trip:
Skin and eye protection
First and foremost, you must effectively protect your skin before engaging in any outdoor activity, regardless of the weather.
- The sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays are the strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., so try to plan outdoor activities before or after those times.
- Children 6 months and older should use sunscreen with a SPF (sun protection factor) of 15 or higher that protects against UVA and UVB rays. Do not use sunscreen on children younger than 6 months as they may ingest the sunscreen by sucking on their fingers or arms. Additionally, their skin is thinner and may absorb chemicals from the sunscreen. Instead, cover infants head to toe in clothing to keep them shaded at all times.
- Wear sunglasses that go around the entire head that also protect against UVA and UVB rays.
- Try to wear protective clothing that covers your arms and legs, wear a wide-brimmed hat and try to stay in the shade when you can.
- Protect yourself from bug bites by applying bug repellent with DEET. The CDC recommends a 30-50 percent concentration of DEET to prevent the spread of pathogens carried by insects.
- Sunscreen should be reapplied regularly, and bug repellent should not.
- Bring more than one first-aid kit.
- Bring safe and healthy food with mostly nonperishable items and make sure all food is in waterproof containers and tightly packed.
- Let others know where you’ll be going beforehand.
- Avoid hypothermia by bringing insulated bedding and warm clothing for nights.
- Stay well hydrated during the day by drinking plenty of water.
- Avoid swallowing water while swimming.
- Always swim with a buddy and make sure there is an adult supervising at all times.
- Whenever you are riding a water vehicle, always wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket. Minnesota law requires children younger than 10 years old to wear a life jacket. We recommend that children older than that also should wear life jackets.
- A life jacket should properly fit. You can determine the fit by a child’s weight.
Splish splash: The ins and outs of water safety (Twin Cities Moms Blog)
- When starting a fire, only burn dry, not damp, material and don’t use fire accelerants such as gas or lighter fluid.
- Start the fire away from flammable things like trees and keep a bucket of water near.
- Children should be supervised at all times and never near the fire.
- Never burn containers that have foam or paint in them and never put pressurized containers into a fire. They may explode and release dangerous fumes.
For more information on camping safety, visit:
At Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, we care for more pediatric emergency and trauma patients than any other health care system in our region, seeing about 90,000 kids each year between our St. Paul and Minneapolis hospitals. Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis is the area’s only Level I pediatric trauma center in a hospital dedicated to only kids, which means we offer the highest level of care to critically injured kids. From the seriously sick to the critically injured, we’re ready for anything.
Luul Mohamed and Alicia Youssef are members of Children’s injury prevention program team.