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Safe 4×4-ing with kids

The holidays are upon us and despite Covid-19 regulations, many families will still enjoy a holiday away from home. 

Being out in the bush – camping or 4x4ing, in particular, require one to be prepared for the expected and the unexpected. Children, being curious by nature and impulsive in behaviour, need to be supervised or at least taught some survivor skills should they find themselves in a spot of bother.

Personal safety

If you get lost, having some sort of signaling device like a whistle or torch with you.
These are also fairly easy to use, even for small kids, once dad or mom has familiarised them with it.
Hydration is critical and it is thus advised that kids be equipped to carry their own supply of water with them. A good quality water bottle with a carry strap is a necessity. Better even would be a Camelback as it would allow them to also carry some light snacks and perhaps even an emergency blanket.
Kids need to be able to familiar with mom and dad’s names and phone numbers. These can be stored in a small capsule which can be hanged around their necks.
Proper clothing for current weather conditions and closed shoes are important.
A buddy system, familiarisation of the visited environment in terms of go and no go areas, is critical if kids are going to be allowed to move around on their own.
Spending time in nature and or secluded areas also dictates the availability of a medical emergency bag and medicines for those everyday colds, vomiting, running tummies and so forth.
Driving safety
One of the rules of driving in the wild, especially on challenging routes, is the wearing of safety belts. Small children must be in their individual child seats. Keep the windows closed and should this not be practical, hands and legs must be inside the vehicle.
A camping holiday almost always requires additional equipment to be carried in the car or 4×4 vehicle. Make sure everything is strapped and packed in such a manner that it will not hurt someone should it come loose when driving rough routes or roads.
And remember to do a 360-degree walk-around before you get into your car and drive off.
Some general suggestions
• If you are setting up a tent, drive the tent stakes all the way down into the ground. Mark your tent ropes with pool noodles to make them more visible.
• Remind children about the possibility of snakes and other environmental hazards, and not to stick their hands into holes that they can’t look into.
• Even though you are on holiday, some form of a regular schedule for eating and sleeping, is important.
• Campfires can be dangerous especially with unsupervised small children around.
Enjoy – leave only footprints – take many photos and stay safe.

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