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Source: Darrell Stillwell, principal specialist for 4-H youth development

As soon as the weather warms up, most of us head outdoors. If outdoor activities like camping or hiking are in your family’s near future, make sure everyone knows how to keep themselves safe.

Planning is one of the most important safety measures you can take. Proper planning ensures your family has enough water and food in the event you get lost. It also means you have clothing like rain jackets and boots that you can use if the weather rapidly changes. Talk to your young people about your expectations for their behavior before you go on an outdoor adventure.

Once you get to the campsite, set clear boundaries with your children on an area that they should not leave. If they need to go to the restroom, bathhouse or anywhere else outside of your defined boundary, make sure they go with an adult if they are younger or in pairs if they are older. Never let a young person wander around a campsite alone.

Before you go on a hike, teach your young people how to identify poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac, so they can stay away from them. Wear long pants, socks and closed-toe shoes to help avoid accidental exposure to poisonous plants. You may want to have some calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream handy in case of accidental exposure. Long, light-colored clothing will make ticks easier to see too.

Young people need to know that wild things should stay wild. They should not eat anything they find, drink any water that has not been purified or try to pet or feed wild animals.

Make sure your family properly disposes of food waste and does not take food into their tent, especially if you are in an area with known bear activity. Bears can smell food even through packaging.

Encourage young people to stay away from water if you are not with them, especially if they are not a strong swimmer.

After hikes, wash all clothes to remove any poisonous plant matter that may have brushed up against your body. Check all family members for ticks. Common places to find ticks include behind ears, hair, neck, legs and around the waist.

For more information on outdoor safety tips, contact the (COUNTY NAME) Extension office.

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