Little kids don’t need much to hurt themselves. While running, playing and climbing, they get a small injury very easily.
Our toddler tends to walk bare foot into stinging nettles almost on a daily basis. You would think he should know by now how those damn plants look like, right?! But no, he’s so consumed in his play, he just walks right in. And I’m sure this is fairly normal for kids!
In this blog post, you’ll find my best safety tips for RVing with kids.
First aid kit for RVing with kids
A proper first aid kit is essential. I don’t think you need further persuasion on this topic 😉 But which one is best?
You can buy complete first aid kits at (online) camping or outdoor shops. When you compare several first aid kits, you will notice that there are quite some differences regarding their content. Some first aid kits have so many materials and tools you probably won’t even use, so I advise you to choose one with the essentials for treating small injuries and for providing the first care for bigger injuries (oh please, let you be spared from such things!)
Tips for composing a first aid kit
Keep the following in mind when choosing you first aid kit:
- Choose one with a solid coverage. When riding over a bumpy road or carrying it with you in a backpack while hiking, you don’t want to worry about breaking the stuff inside.
- Having bandages of various sizes is convenient since cuts and scratches come in very different extents. If you have doubts about the preferred sizes, pick bigger ones. You can always cut a bigger one to the right size.
- Sterilization is essential! Your kids will never hurt themselves in a clean environment. You can count on it that their scratches and cuts are filled with sand, mud, and the like. Without cleaning them, even small injuries can become big ones. You can have bottles or wipes to clean it up. Take both, so you have two methods. If your kid starts screaming when he sees the bottle, you can use the wipes instead.
- I know you don’t want to think about it, but you should also have gauze pads with you. You can use these for large wounds. If you’re not sure the gauze pad is enough for the wound, use it and then go to the emergency.
By the way, in every case of doubt, go to the emergency. Follow your instinct!
- You need medical tape to bandage gauze pads. Although a bandage has a sticky side when kids are playing (even without water) the bandage comes off very quickly. You can secure it with medical tape.
- Every first aid kit should contain tweezers (for removing splinters or small debris in a wound) and scissors (for cutting tape and gauze pads).
- Painkillers can come in handy. If you have small children, make sure you have painkillers that are suitable for their age.
- Pack some anti-diarrhoeal as well. You never know what the European water (or the dirt your kids eat) can do with the belly of your children. Don’t forget to take some Oral Rehydration Solutions (ORS) with you as well. There are special ones for (small) children. When diarrhea continues, children can dehydrate quickly.
- We have a large bottle of vinegar within reach in the RV, and a small bottle with us when going on a hiking trip. For treating stinging nettles – as you probably already guessed 😉
Insects in Europe – and how to prevent and treat their bites
Although I’m not a medical expert, we do have lots of experience with the bugs and such. And let me give you a nice reassurance: there are almost no dangerous insects in Europe. That being said, there are some things you need to know.
So let me give you tips on how to prevent and how to treat bites by little creatures like wasps, ticks and, horseflies.
Damn you mosquitos! Although not dangerous like the malaria mosquito, the European ones can be annoying as well. The humming at night and the itching when they sting. There are some things you can do to prevent a bite:
- They come out during semi-darkness. So keep windows and doors closed or use the screen doors.
- Use bug repellent with lemon and/or DEET
- Before you go to bed, go on a mosquito hunt with a fly swatter
- Once bitten, you can use anti-itching stuff, but in general, those do not help. Don’t shoot the messenger!
Bees and wasps
Bees and wasps are especially common in July and August – the warmest months. They search for sweet stuff, so when your kids eat an ice cream, be aware of possible bees and wasps.
Bees are good, though! Bees have a crucial part in the circle of life – simply put. Don’t kill them! They don’t hurt you either, so just let them fly away.
Wasps, on the other hand, are annoying little creatures. Their sting is so mean! This is what you can do:
- Make a wasp trap with an empty plastic bottle. Just Google for instructions.
- Is there one near you or your kid? Stay still. Very still. Then gently escort it away with your hand or a paper. Just make sure you don’t put it in a tight spot.
- If you have the chance: cut it in half.
- In the case of a sting: wash the area with soap and water. Keep it cool to reduce the swelling.
Ticks are tiny crawly spiders with eight legs that eat blood. They live mostly in the woods and they may or may not carry the Lyme disease with them. What to do?
- Every night, check yourself and your family for ticks. Be thorough, and check especially in armpits, between toes and scalp.
- When you find a tick that has not bitten yet, just take it off and squash it flat.
- You can use DEET (mosquito repellent) to keep ticks at a distance.
- Once bitten: take the tick off and keep it in a jar. You don’t have to go to a doctor immediately. If you get symptoms (fever and/or rash), then go to the doctor. Be aware that it can take weeks before you get these symptoms. Take the tick with you for possible examination.
- If you are tested positive for Lyme (or another born disease), you’ll get antibiotics.
I know there are lots of scary stories about people getting Lyme from a tick bite. And I don’t want to jeopardize these, but until you have symptoms there is nothing to worry about.
Safety tips at campsites
A big difference between staying at home and staying on a campsite is that children might not be familiar with the surroundings. Some campsites are massive (up to several thousand pitches) and even going to the toilet can result in your kids getting lost. To prevent this, I got a few tips:
- Teach your young children to stay within eyesight and older children within earshot. When explaining this rule, you can make a little game of it, by making their permitted circle a little bigger step by step. Keep asking ‘can you see me?’ and ‘can you hear me?’. If yes, then let them move a bit further away from your pitch. If not, let them move back to the spot they could see or hear you the last time and let them name everything eye-catching in that place, e.g. a flower box, lamppost, plate with the number of the pitch on it or something else that is fixed in a single location. Of course, you can also switch places, so let your children stay at the pitch while you move away from them.
- Always accompany small children to the sanitary building. Older children can go alone, but tell them that the sanitary building is not a playground. Even older children can get lost on big campsites. Teach them to stay where they are, so they can be found by you or someone from the campground staff instead of wandering around by themselves.
- Give each child a flashlight to go to the sanitary building when it is dark.
- During low season it becomes dark very early, sometimes even before dinner time. Explain to your children that they have to get back to the pitch when it gets dark.
I’ll continue updating this blog post with tips as we gain more experience. Our kids are still very young (0 and 2 yo) and with every age comes other injuries. So stay tuned for more safety tips!
Maybe you’re also interested in these RVing with kids posts:
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