If things start to go wrong

This article is about the old scouting adage of "Be prepared". No one wants things to go wrong, but sometimes they do and as the parent we need to deal with this stuff - if you are a little boy or girl reading this get mummy and daddy to read it too, this is stuff they need to be bothered about

One way to head off some bad things is have a plan and practice the important bits. If you go away with a new tent and new gear by simply chucking everything in the boot and setting off, then trouble will find you. Practice putting up the tent, make sure you have spare pegs and decide who will do what - saves arguments later (well it might). Make sure you are familiar with all your kit and make lists - we use 2 Excel lists and each (mum and dad) have their own clear accountability. On our trips things are pretty clear, arrive without the Kettle and dads in trouble arrive without Tea bags then its mum

Grumpy kids can be avoided but not always, we still take Calpol sachets with us, it seems to be a universal cure-all for a lot of children. Beyond that you will know what works best for your little ones

If they wont sleep then there are simply choices and consequences. We usually choose to tough it out and eventually they do fall alseep (no guarantee yours will though), we make up for lack of sleep with a good nap in the afternoon. You can choose to go home (with our without tent) and try again another day

If the weather turns nasty and no one can sleep due to wet or wind (or thunder and lightening) then you have similar choices. I am always amazed how well kids will sleep in their car seats, but most grown ups seem to prefer to lie down, so you might be able to get everyone in the car and tough it out there til morning and then make some choices

Stuff like sunburn, bumps and bruises, may not be fully preventable but they can be soothed if you have the right stuff with you


Within the tent and especially the cooking area, the kids need to know what is okay and not okay. You can help with a good layout that makes it hard for the kids to come close to the stove or kettle - the risk of burns and scolds is always there, so you might want to think about a low level stove like a Suitcase stove and stable camp kitchen if you havent already got that kind of kit. It can make the cooking area a bit safer

Also remember, never to use any gas appliances (so thats cookers, lanterns and heaters) in an enclosed tent or you risk Carbon Monoxide poisoning. A BBQ carries the same risk, as recent tragic news stories have reminded us. Many cautious campers take a CO monitor with them just to be on the safe side, very cautious campers will only use gas outside the tent - if you do take a monitor place it in the top of the tent as CO rises and that that is where monitor will pick up any CO issues quickly

Some campers always carry a fire blanket or fire extinguisher, which can be reassuring to have around (make sure you know how to use it). If you do buy a fire extinguisher it can be handy when it runs out of date to have use it in anger on a garden fire or similar before buy the next one, then you know how the things work

Consider the campsite too. Any open or moving water is an obvious concern but most camp sites that take children will have already considered the safety aspect for you (you would hope)

Toilets and bin areas bring their own hazards so you need supervision or education. Same with traffic risks really, but a well run site will make sure this stuff is properly thought out and managed

Animals on site might not spring to mind as an issue, but we have been to one or two sites where they were 'relaxed' about dogs. Having children with us and finding dog poo in lying aroung was not what we wanted so now when we book I often ask if they take dogs (even though we don't have one) to get a sense of the rules

Knowing where the fire extinguishers are (often near the toilet blocks) can be helpful as will knowing the telephone number for the warden (sometimes on your booking paperwork or tent tag) and where to get first aid help (sometimes the warden, sometimes you are on your own) is also worth thinking about

But remember, you are there to have fun. So "be prepared" and then hopefully you wont need any of this stuff

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