This week we have an update to our General Advice section: first aid planning. This list is based on my experience and my wilderness medicine training that I take every 2-3 years and I updated it based on the course I just took in January.
As always, we love hearing feedback from readers so we can make this page as helpful as possible.
First aid planning is more than just building a good first aid kit. Our recommendation is for at least one and preferably both parents to take first aid and wilderness medical training to match what you would be expected to do if you were a trip leader on a professional course. This gives you peace of mind that you know what to do in an emergency and also gives your family the best chance of a good outcome. As a bonus, you are also able to help other people that you meet on your trip. All the classes recommended below include adult and infant CPR training/certification that is good as long as the overall certification lasts for, so you don’t need to spend time taking that as an extra class.
If you just go on day trips or car camping, the recommended class is a 2 day Wilderness First Aid (WFA) class, making sure you get adult/infant/child CPR training.
If you take your family on multi-day backpacking trips, the recommended class is the Wilderness First Responder (WFR). This class also trains you on the use of epinephrine which can get you special certification depending on your state which may allow you to purchase epi-pens to carry on your trips (not necessarily needed if your kids are already prescribed epinephrine by their doctor).
We recommend recertifying on the schedule the provider requires. Hopefully you don’t have opportunities to use what you learn (because you plan well and have good luck) so the hands-on part of the classes give you good opportunities to practice what you learn.
The most well known training organizations are:
We have taken classes with all 3 of them (although over a 25 year time span). They are all excellent, but have slightly different approaches. Our recommendation is to start by finding the organization that offers the most classes close to home, to make recertifying easier. Otherwise, you can look at the information on their website to see if one of them appeals to you more than others.
Once you’ve completed your class, create your first aid kit and make sure you pack it with you at all times:
And don’t forget to restock your kit before you go out on a trip and audit it once a year for expired supplies.
How am I ever going to keep climbing / backpacking / skiing / camping / biking after I have kids? I can’t push myself as hard as I used to or go as far as I used to now that I’m pregnant! It will never be fun again! My friends / coworkers were right, I’ll never do anything outdoors again! Life is over!
Obviously most of that is not true, exploring the outdoors with kids is amazing. It is just a lot different - sometimes much harder and sometimes way better. Here are some tips on adjusting to being an outdoor parent:
Preparation while pregnant or waiting for adoption:
How to adjust to doing things with babies:
How to adjust if you waited until the kids are bigger before getting back out:
How to find time to do things without the kids:
But whatever you do, don't listen to the naysayers who think that the outdoor life is over once you have kids. It may take time to adjust, but that is just part of becoming parents. Keep getting out there and it will keep getting easier.
Two Silicon Valley engineers who have had a love of the outdoors since childhood. Parents of two small kids, spending our free time exploring the outdoors with them.