1. Have children wear appropriate shoes: hiking boots or sneakers including socks, and never sandals or flip-flops. If your kids have hiking boots, have them break the boots in around the house before long hikes so that they don’t come back with blisters.
2. Always let someone know exactly where you are going, where you will be departing from, what route you plan to take, and what time you expect to return. This way, if something goes wrong, authorities will know sooner and can focus their search in the right area.
3. Take time beforehand to become familiar with the area you will be hiking, the expected weather, and any hazards you many encounter. If hiking in an unfamiliar area, it’s a good idea to equip each member with a map, or distribute several among the adults.
4. Pack a portable first-aid kit inside a backpack, along with lots of water and energy bars. A flint-lock fire starter is also an important item to have on hand. Nobody plans to get lost, but many rescue scenarios unfold on simple day hikes. If something goes wrong and you end up spending the night in the wilderness, you’ll be glad you have it. Compact, portable plastic rain ponchos are also a good idea.