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Staying Safe While Enjoying the Great Outdoors

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After age 3, your child wants to spend at least part of the time on his own two feet. Now that he's 4, he'll want to be even more mobile as he develops into an explorer on family outings. Even as you rejoice in becoming equipment-free, you'll want to acquire as much knowledge as possible to protect your little adventurer.

So whether you're setting off on a camping or fishing trip a long way from home or going for a hike in a local park, you and your kids should know what to do if they or you get lost or separated from each other. You should also know something about conserving energy and protecting skin. The things children learn on these outings should prepare them for a life of outdoor fun and adventure.

The following nine easy precautions will help keep your outdoor excursions safe.

Sunscreen Rules Even on cloudy days the sun's rays can burn. Winter excursions are just as bad as summer outings for the face and other exposed skin. Always smooth on a layer of sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher when you start out and again at lunchtime. Have kids over 3 try to do it themselves to start learning the habit, but make sure an adult checks for full coverage.

Hats On Hats are much more than decoration. In winter we lose a lot of body heat from an exposed head; in summer we gain heat this way. This rule applies even more so to kids because of their relatively large head size compared to their body size. Scalp sunburn is painful and dangerous, and being too cold (hypothermia) or too warm (hyperthermia) is easier to avoid when heads are covered. If your hands are cold, put on a hat.

Water Wise Bring lots of water, and have your kids drink lots of it. You'll avoid the fatigue and dehydration that drinking too little water brings. Slow-moving, irritable kids are often thirsty. As soon as they are 3, they should carry a quart of water themselves in a backpack and take drinks often.

 
 

 
 
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