your trip. A good rule is to stop for a water break every 20-30 minutes or so. In warm
weather, you may need to stop more often.
Just how much water kids need is widely variable. Adults, in general, need about
a gallon of water per day with strenuous outdoor activity. For kids, water requirement
varies depending on their size, their activity level, the outdoor temperature, and other
If you have little kids, remember to bring a spill proof cup or water bottle with a
lid so they don't get their clothes wet. For older kids, a standard water bottle with a spout
that closes works fine. You don't want the water to spill in their pack. When traveling,
my friend Eric brings his Camelbak for his toddler. It is a water bladder with a drinking
tube that looks like a gigantic straw, perfect for the small mouth of his kid.
If you run out of water or if you are on a long hike or camping trip, you may need
to get water from a stream or lake. Procuring water is an important issue in outdoor
adventure. In general, mountain and forest streams are not safe to drink in the United
States. Many have giardia, bacterial or viral critters from cattle, wild animals, or human
waste. Similarly, when traveling abroad, especially to developing countries, water may be
contaminated by microorganisms.
FIRST AID KITS
In general, parents can buy an adult first aid kit and add certain items.
Alternatively you can buy one designed for parents. See Table 1.
COMMON MEDICAL ISSUES
Many medical issues, such as wound care, are evaluated and treated the same for
kids and their parents. However, certain common medical issues that pertain to children,
are worth mentioning.
Kids are more susceptible to dehydration: they forget to drink and their
thermoregulatory mechanism is not as developed as adults.
Dehydration can be classified as follows:
Mild: alert, normal vital signs, moist or slightly dry mucous membranes, thirst.
Moderate: restless and irritable, tachycardia, tachypnea, low-normal blood
pressure, sunken eyes, dry mucous membranes, reduced urine output and
Severe: Lethargy, cool and mottled skin, severe tachycardia and tachypnea, low
blood pressure, dry mucous membranes, no urine output, slow capillary refill.
Treatment for dehydration in the field is oral rehydration solution. The best and
easiest is to add the premixed powdered solution to a water bottle. Alternatively, use
Gatoraid or half-strength juice with a pinch of salt. You can make ORS using the
following: 1 tsp. salt, 1 cup rice cereal, 1 quart water. Remember to monitor urine color
and quantity. This is a good objective gauge of hydration status.
Always watch for hypothermia and frostbite. Remember, kids are more
susceptible to cold illness because of physiologic and behavioral differences discussed