“Heading off to camp is a joyful child ritual and the opportunity for a test at independence and self-confidence.  According to results from a Healthy Camp Study, 50% of camp-related injuries occur when protective equipment is not worn,” says Renée McCabe, RN, Injury Prevention and Safety Program Manager at the Children’s Hospital of Georgia.

Here are some tips to help your child stay safe at camp and ensure that the memories made are happy ones!   

Be Sun Savvy
The intense heat and humidity of the summer can be dangerous. When we sweat, our bodies lose water so children must drink plenty of fluids, even if they aren’t thirsty. This is particularly important for children playing sports or games that involve running or physical activity. Children should carry a water bottle (or two) at all times.

Sunscreen is a must! The sun is most intense between 10am and 4pm, but it’s best to make a habit of applying sunscreen when dressing in the morning. Choose a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher and reapply at least every two hours and every time the child dries off after swimming.

Teach your child the signs of heat exhaustion. Heat exhaustion occurs when the body heats up faster than it can cool down. Symptoms include fatigue, feeling overheated and weakness. Heat exhaustion can escalate rapidly. If your child begins to feel ill, he should take a rest indoors or in the shade and the camp nurse should be notified.

Check for Ticks
Lyme disease is spread by tiny deer ticks living in tall grasses or wooded areas. Symptoms include a bulls-eye rash and flu-like symptoms within a few weeks of the tick bite. It’s a good idea to wear long sleeves and tuck pant legs into socks when hiking and stay in the middle of the trail. Always check the entire body for ticks following time spent in wooded or grassy areas. Finally, if a child finds a tick on their body, they should have it removed by the camp nurse or another adult using tweezers and pulling the tick straight out of the skin.

Appropriate Footwear and Clothing
Flip flops offer young feet no support, can lead to poor foot and leg position when running and jumping, and can pose a tripping hazard, especially on uneven ground. Children should wear sturdy, lace-up shoes for running in games and sports. Loose-fitting clothing should be worn on hot days to allow the body to cool, and hats will protect children’s heads and faces.

Gear Up
Make sure safety equipment is provided and mandated for sports activities.  Helmets should always be worn for biking, horseback riding, football, zip-lining and challenge courses.

Don’t Push Through Pain
If your child is injured, it should be addressed right away. Injuries as small as a blister or mild sprain can have a significant impact if ignored. Pain is the body’s way of telling us that something is wrong. Injuries should be reported to camp staff, nurses and coaches when they happen so they do no worsen. We don’t want a child to miss an entire sports season for an injury that, if addressed immediately, could be resolved within a day or two. A helpful tactic is to remember the principles of RICE: Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.

Buckle Up
When traveling in a vehicle, everyone needs to be buckled up in an appropriate car seat, booster seat or seat belt.

Children under age 13 should ride in the back seat and remain in a booster seat until they are at least 8 years old and 4’9”.

Safe Kids Greater Augusta, led by the Children’s Hospital of Georgia, works to prevent unintentional childhood injury, the leading killer of children ages 1 to 19. Safe Kids Greater Augusta is a member of the Safe Kids Worldwide network. To find out more about the local Safe Kids program, call 706-721-7606, or visit augustahealth.org/safekids. Check out more safety tips and the Ultimate Car Seat Guide at SafeKids.org.

Camping image from FreePik.com