No matter what type of child you have, there are three outdoor skills he should learn to stay safe and be resourceful. All kids should know how to build a fire, how to administer first aid and how to identify plants.
Making a Fire
This is a perfect opportunity to teach the basics of fire safety, while teaching your kids the value of knowing how to build a fire in an emergency when out in the wild. First, make sure your child knows never to build a fire near trees or shrubbery. Then, place rocks in a circle for a makeshift fire pit. There are a few different techniques to choose from when making a fire, such as the teepee or the log cabin. For the teepee fire, arrange twigs, paper and bits of rope in the center of kindling placed vertically in a teepee position. Use matches if you have them, supervising the whole time of course; if not, use two sticks and friction motion to create a spark.
Teach your child the basics when it comes to first aid. To stem bleeding, apply pressure with a towel until it stops, then apply hydrogen peroxide (in the case of cuts and scrapes), antibiotic ointment and a bandage. For minor burns, use cold water or a compress to treat. For pain relief, spray antiseptic on the burn. For bee stings, apply a cold compress, pull out the stinger, put on some antihistamine cream, and elevate the affected area. This is also a good time to teach safety with outdoors tools such as butterfly knives and matches.
It’s important that kids know which plants to avoid in the wild and which ones are OK. Observation is key. Tell your child to take a look at the leaves. Many things can indicate what type of plant it is, such as the number of petals, the shape of the flower, the structure and the texture. Even the smell can come in handy sometimes to determine onion plants, for instance. Poison ivy and poison oak both contain urushiol oil, which many people are allergic to. This can cause a severe rash that may spread with contact. Teach your kids to stay away from plants that feature three leaves at the end of a long, thin stem. Look at photos online and in books together to point out the many types of plants that are poisonous, especially if your area is prone to them.
Teaching these three outdoor skills to your kid can be a valuable life lesson.