Here at The Chicken’s Egg we talk a lot about the fun you can have outdoors but we also need to address the dangers of outdoor play. This is not an article about stranger danger (that is a topic for another time) but the risks of the natural environment around us. I don’t consider myself an overly cautious parent but I do have a few rules that we follow in our house.
Since the kids started to crawl I have always told them the grill was hot even when it is not. With constant reminder they have managed to stay away from the grill and no burns in this household. I have calmed down a bit when I know the grill is cool but I am hyper aware when the grill is hot and still yell out when a kid gets remotely close.
I admit, I am the worst at this. I usually put sunscreen on them when we first go out but I forget to follow up. Sunscreen should be applied every 90 minutes, so do better than I and make sure to sunscreen often.
Once when my son was younger he picked a berry off a bush and ate it before I could reach him. Luckily, it was not poisonous but and because of this I have had to establish no picking anything until you ask me if it is ok. I repeat this anytime I see a potential danger or when we head out to pick our own fruit and veggies.
I am terrified of snakes and I try not to give my fear to my kids but they still need to be aware that snakes can be dangerous. I use gentle reminders when they are in tall grass or near berry bushes that there could be a snake. Usually they move from the area but I try really hard not to make them fearful. That not to say when we have seen snakes that I definitely show my fear, it is quite comical but hey, no one is perfect.
My daughter recently brushed up against a planted named Hog Weed and had an immediate reaction. Google and a little soap and water came to the rescue and it quickly dissipated. There are however many plants that create a long lasting effect such as poison ivy, so just be aware of the poisonous plants in your region.
Here in the Hudson Valley we have lots of ticks and ticks can carry Lyme disease. Be sure to check your children when they come in from playing for any unusual bites or ticks. You can use a bug spray to help prevent some bites but it is not foolproof. Be sure to call your doctor if you notice any adverse reactions to these things.
Water is important anytime of the year but during the summer months it is essential that you stay hydrated. My rule is bring more than you think you could ever drink. Between my two kids and myself on a hot day we will easily go through a gallon of water. Be sure to encourage your kids to drink. They get caught up in play and will forget. Better for them to get constant sips of water then have them extremely thirsty and gulp huge amounts. Lack of hydration can lead to some serious medical problems or cutting play short because we have to find water. I used to carry only one bottle and refill from that bottle but now we each have our own so I can monitor how much they are drinking.
This list is by no means a complete list of to dos. These are just the ones that I personally come across often in our outdoor adventures. Don’t let these scare you and keep you and your child inside. It is very important for kids to be outdoors and in nature, just teach them how to be aware of their surroundings.
Written by Jamie Jackson