Spending time outdoors can bring joy and many happy memories to your family. Taking a few simple precautions will assure that you enjoy the experience to the fullest.
Sun Protection (Adapted from the AAP statement at www.healthychildren.org)
Proper Equipment: If you are bicycling, always wear a helmet. If you are on the water, wear a life jacket. When exploring rough terrain, be sure to wear appropriate footwear, and for longer adventures, it’s a good idea to carry rain gear and some warmer layers in the event of an unexpected change in weather. Whistles are great to carry on the trail in the event that one of you becomes separated from the group. Carry a first aid kit with you or have one in the car.
Hydration and Energy: Be sure to drink plenty of water, especially in the hot summer months. Carry water with you and have extra water available in the car at the end of your adventure. Bring along healthy snacks for an added energy boost.
Poison Ivy: Poison Ivy can be common along wood edges and clearings. The best protection is to know how to recognize it, then avoid touching it. Poison Ivy has 3 leaflets arranged roughly like a triangle. The vine has course “hairs” growing out from both sides of the stem. Wearing long pants can reduce your chance of having your skin come in contact with the plant.
Do not burn Poison Ivy vines in a campfire because smoke carries the oil. It’s a good idea to keep your dog on a leash so it does not run through Poison Ivy and bring the oils back to you.
If you know that you have come in contact with Poison Ivy on the trail, the juice of a Jewelweed plant can be used as a wash. Jewelweed is often found in damp, shady areas. It has a pretty yellow/orange trumpet-shaped flower and sage green leaves with hollow stems that contain liquid. Crush the stem and wash the contact area with the Jewelweed juice. As soon as you are able, wash the area several times with a strong soap.
The best defense against mosquitoes and ticks is to use insect repellent containing DEET. Do not use DEET on children under the age of 2 months. It is recommended that you wash off the repellent upon your return home. Wearing clothing with long sleeves and long pants is a good idea in wilder areas. When you return home, check for ticks, just in case. Remember to check your family pet as well.
Wasps, hornets and bees can sting, but most are not aggressive and will leave you alone unless you touch them first. The one exception is the Yellowjacket Hornet. Typically ground-nesting, these hornets will aggressively defend their nest. When you are hiking or playing outdoors, avoid the area if you see flying insects coming and going from a spot on the ground. By staying on the trail as you hike, you dramatically reduce your chances of encountering a Yellowjacket Hornet nest.
Poisonous snakes were eliminated from Greater Cincinnati over 70 years ago, but small numbers remain in places with sparse human populations, like Adams County. Poisonous snakes are typically non-aggressive and prone to hiding. Unless you step on one or put your hand on it while rock-climbing, you are not likely to be bitten. As a precaution, if you are lifting up a rock or log, always lift so that the opening is away from you, not pointing towards you. Then be sure to put the rock or log back gently in the same place – be courteous to wildlife.
With just a little knowledge and advance preparation, you and your family can explore the outdoors safely and with confidence. Enjoy!
Download the entire “Grow Outside Guide to Outdoor Play” to print out at home or have as a reference.