Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Stay comfortable, safe during hot weather hikes with children

With summer’s arrival, hikers have to shift their thinking about how they approach their favorite pastime. Hot weather isn’t a reason to avoid the trail, but especially when children are involved hikers should prep for their adventure with as much consideration as they would for a winter hike. Some hot weather guidelines that’ll ensure your comfort and safety include:
g Clothing – Wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing. Avoid cotton and be sure to don a hat with a brim as well as sunglasses with UV protection.
g Sunscreen – Use at least SPF 15 on all exposed areas of the body, even if walking through shaded areas. The sun is more intense during summer than other seasons.
g Repellant – Insects are more likely to be out in summer than early spring or autumn, so make sure you bring repellant to keep them away. A repellant made with oil of lemon eucalyptus is safest for children.
g Water – Drink plenty of it but not much too swiftly or you’ll suffer stomach cramps. You’ll need at least 2 pints of water per person for every hour on the trail. Avoid caffeine before hiking as that can lead to dehydration.
g Snacks – Salty snacks are needed to replenish sodium lost while sweating. Sweet snacks most likely will only melt anyway on a hot day.
g Mornings – Mornings almost always are cooler than the afternoon, sometimes by a good 20 degrees, so plan to hike before 10 am. Evening hikes after 6 pm also are a little cooler than afternoons.
g Easy – Stick to a trail that won’t prove too challenging in distance or terrain. The more energy you exert, the more likely you are to overheat.
g Shade – Select shaded routes, such as woodlands, rather than open meadows.
g Breaks – Take more of them, maybe one every 15 minutes. This also will give you time to ensure everyone is drinking water and getting a salty snack.
g Slow – Reduce your pace to avoid overexertion. You may not cover as much ground as you like, but there are plenty of interesting, short day hiking trails to enjoy.

Read more about day hiking with children in my Hikes with Tykes guidebooks.