We go hiking as a family often. In the mountains. In the desert. Across rocks and over hills.
We breathe fresh air. We activate our muscles. We observe plants, flowers, and animals. We soak in the sun, splash in the water, talk without distractions, and are filled with peace.
When we tell friends & acquaintances about our 2-7 mile hikes – with our 1-year-old and 3-year-old in tow – some of them react like this:
- “I wouldn’t feel comfortable taking my toddler out that far.“
- “Aren’t you scared of mountain lions/bears?“
- “What about snakes?“
- “Isn’t that dangerous?”
We usually reply by simply stating that it’s quite safe when you take the necessary precautions.
Sometimes, however, we present some short stats on probability.
Let’s take the data from 2008 as an example:
- Number of Fatalities by Car Accident: 37,261
- Number of Murders: 14,180
- Number of Fatalities by Lightning Strike: 28
- Number of Deaths by Bear: 3
- Number of Deaths by Mountain Lion: 1
- Number of Deaths by Snake Bite: 0
Based on these numbers, you should be absolutely terrified of driving in your car. On average in 2008, 101 people per day were killed on roadways in the USA. Motor vehicle accidents are also the leading cause of death among children.
Sadly, statistics also show us that we ought to be more frightened of humans than animals. Indeed, I would venture to say that it is MUCH more dangerous to go to the mall or to work than to go for a hike.
Certainly, it is prudent to be prepared for emergencies outdoors (take enough water, keep your children close, know what to do if you encounter a mountain lion or how to treat a rattlesnake bite, etc.), but…it is even MORE important to be vigilant about safety on the road (pay attention, drive less, don’t-even-think-about texting and driving, etc.).
The truth is this: Being outdoors is safe and wonderful, even for – especially for – children.
Sure, it’s a little “wild” out there, but life is full of dangers no matter where you are. And, statistically speaking, it’s much scarier to go for a ride across town than to spend an afternoon in the wilderness.
Do you hike/explore with your children outdoors?Have you ever been attacked by a wild animal? Have you ever been in a car accident?