While hiking in Linville Gorge Wilderness Area with his two sons last summer, Greensboro, NC resident Steve Patton tumbled 7 feet down a rocky slope and broke his leg. Luke, 13, and Daniel, 9, walked to the trailhead, called 911, and used the trail map to show rescuers where their dad was waiting.
Obviously, no parent expects to be in a similar situation. But first-aid expert Steve Longenecker urges you to prep your kids just in case. Longenecker, author of the new book Wilderness Emergency Medical Aid Book For Kids, teaches on the subject at Falling Creek Camp in Tuxedo, NC. Below are four basics your kids should remember, and tips on explaining them.
Avoid Dad's mistake
The first thing kids need to understand, says Longenecker, is that they can't help if they get hurt, too. Explain this concept with hypothetical situations. Example: Dad slid off the trail, fracturing his ankle. Don't climb down after him; find a safer way, or stay put.
Be ready to help
Show your children how to dial 911 on your cell phone. Before a hike, make sure they know the name of the trail you're on (have them say it). For multiday trips, devise a plan (who will hike out, what they'll take) should an accident occur out of cell-phone range. Teach them how to signal as well.
Know how to act
Demonstrate procedures for the big three: bleeding (use firm, direct pressure), unconsciousness (don't move the victim), not breathing (give rescue breaths). Take a first-aid class with your kids to help them learn these skills--and to hone your own.
Practice "little CPR"
Realistically, there may not be much a kid can do. That's where "little CPR"--comfort, protection, reassurance--comes in. If your kids are focused on getting a jacket, setting up a tarp, or keeping you company, they'll be less likely to panic.
Adapted from Wilderness Emergency Medical Aid Book For Kids (& Their Adults), $16.95; www.milestonepress.com