Before you grab your little ones, drink bottles and walking shoes, make sure you check relevant safety requirements for the track you’ve chosen. Each walk is different and requires a different level of preparation, but here are some general safety tips for bushwalking with children in the Blue Mountains:
- There are no guarantees of ‘child-proof’ tracks. You are out in nature and it is not a controlled environment – like those colourful, plastic indoor play centres (and that’s the beauty of it!). However, the key to safe bushwalking with children is constant supervision. Always supervise your children carefully and do not let them run ahead as you never know where a trail changes and there is an unexpected narrow part with a dangerous drop or unexpected wildlife. Keep well back from cliff edges and hold your child’s hand if the path looks a little narrow or dangerous.
- Always carry drinking water and food, even if it is a short walk. A good guide is at least one litre of water for every two hours of walking. You can get small children’s camelbacks for under $70 (a great Christmas gift perhaps!?) or the night before half freeze a water bottle then top with water the next day. Muesli bars, packets of chips and bananas make great snacks for picnics along the way.
- Ensure you all wear a hat, sunscreen, long pants and closed-in walking shoes with socks. No thongs! Blue and hi-vis bright colours are the safest colours in the bush. In Summer, walk early or later in the day to avoid getting overheated.
- Carry a small, basic first aid kit that includes at least antiseptic cream, insect repellent, pressure immobilisation bandage, bandaids, sterile non-adhesive pads, hand sanitiser, gloves, a foil rescue blanket, matches, instant icepack, panadol for adults and children, medical tape, two triangular bandages, tweezers and safety pins.
- Plan in detail where you’re going and stay on the main track. Inform someone else where you plan to go and when you plan on returning. Keep in touch with them before, during and after your walk. If you are going on a lengthy or advanced walk, we recommend dropping into Springwood or Katoomba Police Stations or the Blackheath National Parks Office before you leave for your bushwalk to borrow a free Personal Locator Beacon (PLB). This is an emergency distress signal that uses a radio transmitter to communicate with authorities when you’re in serious danger.