12 Tips to Help You and Your Family Stay Safe During Your Next Family Outing
Enjoying the great outdoors or taking a trip to a favorite destination represents a great way to let the kids blow off some steam and to spend quality family time together. But a fun day can quickly turn sour without the proper precautions in place. At The Levin Firm, we’re not just lawyers, we care about our clients. That’s why we want to make sure you take the steps to ensure your time together goes off without a hitch. Below, our experienced personal injury attorneys at the Levin Firm have gathered 12 tips to help you and your family stay safe during your next family outing.
1. When You Go Is Just as Important as Where You Go
As tempting as it may feel to just jump in the car and go out to the park whenever the urge hits, it’s usually a good idea to schedule major family outings. This doesn’t mean there can’t be some spontaneity to your adventure, but it does mean you probably shouldn’t head out during the hottest day of the year, for example, or without first thinking through how the time-of-day might impact your fun.
Always check the weather forecast before you start your outing. Leaving during morning hours gives you plenty of time to let the day take its course, and to enjoy fun activities before crowds build or the weather gets too hot.
2. Pack a Bag of Essentials
The last thing you want to do is get to the beach or the hiking trails and realize you forgot something at home. Cornering yourself into purchasing an essential at inflated prices can get the day off to a bad start. Think about supplies you may need for the day and put together a bag the night before.
The contents may vary based on your family’s needs and your planned activities, but common items you may want to consider packing include:
- Water or water bottles
- Waterproof bags for any electronics
- A car charger or charging pack for your phone
- Hand sanitizer
- A diaper bag if you have a little one
- Towels if you plan to swim or splash
Of course, there are limits. Don’t go overboard and try to plan for every conceivable contingency. Lugging a heavy, overstuffed bag around all day can easily defeat the benefit of having packed everything but the kitchen sink.
3. Leave the Valuables at Home
While it’s okay to bring your cellphone and maybe a camera, leave the other big-ticket items at home (not just in the car). This includes laptops, iPads, jewelry, and even cash. A recent study conducted in Florida found that crime was 198 percent higher within one mile of a theme park. It is safe to assume the same dangers lurk around Philadelphia’s many tourist attractions, where tourists make for targets of criminals who prey on anyone who is unfamiliar with an area and likely to carry more cash than usual. If you can, pay for any necessary tickets in advance and make other purchases with a card.
4. Wear Appropriate Footwear
Few conditions ruin a day faster and more thoroughly than sore feet. For that reason, always wear shoes to match your planned activity. Sneakers or walking shoes do the trick for visits to theme parks or tourist attractions, proper hiking boots are a must-have for a rugged ramble in the woods, and flip-flops or slip-ons can fit the bill for a day at the beach (so long as you do not need to walk long distances to get there). Skip wearing heels or shoes without support, obviously. If you plan to do any significant amount of walking, do not forget to choose comfortable, breathable socks, too, so that your feet do not get blisters. Also, do not try to make your family outing do double-duty as your day to break in a new pair of shoes, which can also cause discomfort and rub your feet raw. The appropriate footwear can also just in general give you proper traction on potentially dangerous or slipper surfaces. In the event of a slip and fall accident speaking with an experienced slip and fall accident attorney can help you determine your recovery options for your case.
5. Plan Your Meals
Any parent knows that kids use the phrase, “I’m hungry,” to express boredom, fatigue, crankiness, or yes, actual hunger. Snacks in your day bag can quell them temporarily, but if you expect your outing to last more than a couple of hours, it also helps to plan the time and location of full meals, and to figure out whether you have the option of packing a picnic.
Major theme parks like Sesame Place, Hersheypark, and for example, might not allow you to carry-in picnics, so figure out a plan for either leaving the park for your meal or purchasing food on-site. The same goes for indoor water parks like Kalahari or Great Wolf in the Poconos. In contrast, public parks, ski areas, and even smaller theme parks and attractions, like Knoebels, typically allow families to pack their own meals (though they may have limits on where they can eat them). Pro tip: Peanut butter and jelly and snack bags are quick, easy, and won’t spoil in the sun.
6. Put on the SPF
It doesn’t matter if it is 90 degrees or 60 degrees—if you plan on staying outside all day, sunscreen is critical. While you slather on the SPF on the kids, don’t forget about yourself, too. The American Academy of Dermatology suggests putting on sunscreen 15 minutes before you go outside. If you get wet or sweat, reapply your sunscreen every two hours. Choose a sunscreen with at least 30 SPF and do not forget commonly missed areas like the neck, feet, and hands. It doesn’t matter whether you choose lotion or spray, but if you do choose a spray, make sure you cover all exposed areas thoroughly.
7. Have a Plan in Case You Split Up
The level of freedom you give your kids will depend on their age and maturity level. If you plan to let your kids roam around on their own, make sure you set clear expectations. How long can they stay out? Where can they go? What can they do? Where will you meet? Make sure your kids know what to do in case of an emergency. For older children, it’s a good idea to have a way to get in touch with each other. A cell phone or even walkie talkies can help get a hold of each other.
When it comes to younger kids, they’ll probably have a little less room to roam. However, it’s still a good idea to talk about what to do in the event of the emergency and where to go in case you get separated.
8. Stay Hydrated
Drinking enough water keeps you healthy. The CDC has suggestions for what constitutes healthy daily water intake for each member of your family. People often forget to drink water when everyone is playing and having fun, so set a schedule to take regular water breaks. This is where it comes in handy to carry a water bottle. Buying bottled water at a tourist attraction gets expensive, but you can usually find a faucet where you can fill up your own bottle for free. For hikes in the great outdoors, consider investing in a high-quality, portable, camper’s water filter (never drink water directly from a pond or stream without purifying it). Skip sugary drinks at all costs.
9. Follow the Rules
It may sound trite, but rules exist for good reasons - mostly, to keep you safe from harm. Follow whatever rules apply at your destination. At an amusement park, do not go on a roller coaster if you have a prohibited health condition. At water parks, stay out of the pool if you feel sick. On hiking and camping trips, practice leave no trace principles to keep nature pristine. At the beach, stay in designated swimming areas. And always, always, pick up after your pet.
Property owners and operators have obligations to keep visitors safe from unreasonable dangers. However, visitors who refuse to follow posted rules may sacrifice their legal rights to compensation if they get hurt.
10. Practice Water Safety
Even experienced swimmers can get into trouble in dangerous water conditions, which may include cold temperatures, hidden underwater hazards, rough or fast-moving water, and rip currents. On boats, always make sure everyone wears a floatation device, even the adults. Keep a constant eye on children while they swim, and be ready to react if you see anyone struggling. Think of lifeguards as a last line of defense against dangers. They cannot fill your primary role of monitoring your children. Water parks, pools, and beaches can have hundreds of swimmers in a large area, and accidents can happen in seconds.
Talk with your kids before you go about how they should behave around any body water, including rules about diving, running on pool decks, and going into water deeper than their height up to their chins. Set clear expectations and strictly enforce the rules. Tragedies can happen in the water in the blink of an eye.
11. Watch for Signs of Injury
A fun family outing can take a dangerous turn if someone starts to feel ill or gets hurt. Some signs and symptoms are obvious. Others, less so.
Keep an eye out for these more-subtle signs that you or your family member has slipped into the health danger zone:
- Headaches: A headache is often a sign that someone has had enough and needs a break, and may indicate dehydration, exhaustion, or heatstroke. If the person has taken a tumble or had a jolt, a headache could also constitute an early warning sign of a brain injury. In that case, immediately seek medical attention.
- Lethargy: While it’s normal for a child, or anyone, to feel worn out or tired after a long day (particularly one outdoors in the sun), exaggerated sluggishness could signal dangerous heatstroke, illness, or (again) a brain injury. or illness. Take a break, drink water, and monitor the situation to see if the person improves. If not, then seek medical attention. Some instances of just getting through it and not taking the precautions could lead to a severe slip and fall accident.
- Limping: Kids can be stubborn when they are not ready to leave a fun day. Adults can insist on toughing it out through a painful injury. However, a limp signals that someone needs a break and, potentially, the care of a trained doctor. Do not let it slide. Sit the person down, assess the situation, and take appropriate action to keep them safe and healthy.
12. Use Common Sense
At the end of the day, most of the tips above come down to exercising basic common sense while out with your family. Do not break rules that exist to protect your safety. Do not take unnecessary risks with your health. Take care of your personal belongings and plan for reasonable contingencies.
Accidents happen during family outings, and in countless other settings, every day because people make careless decisions that put themselves and others in harm’s way. By staying mindful of potential dangers and complications, planning ahead, and taking basic, sensible precautions, you can usually avoid disaster and make the most of your time with your family.
In the Event of an Injury…
Family outings aim for fun and adventure, and more often than not, they achieve their purpose. We come home smiling and refreshed, if also completely exhausted. Sometimes, however, accidents do happen. Minor bumps and bruises may heal and go away (although, not always, so be on the alert), but more serious injuries can change a person’s life for the worse and inflict lasting physical, emotional, and financial pain.
Still, we should never treat accidents as inevitable and unavoidable. And, we should never have to endure the burden, expense, and difficulty of an injury caused by someone else’s unreasonably dangerous decisions or actions. In the event your family outing ends with you or someone you love getting seriously hurt through no fault of your own, you may have significant legal rights to financial compensation if you act quickly and take the necessary actions to protect your interests. Contact an experienced personal injury attorney for a free consultation to learn more.
The Levin Firm
1500 John F. Kennedy Blvd,
Two Penn Center, Suite 620
Philadelphia, PA 19102