Winter cycling is great fun - here's some tips on keeping safe and warmRead More
Expect the unexpected to keep your family safe when cycling
When you and your family are active in the great outdoors enjoying a family bike ride the last thing you want to think about is something bad happening. Those worst-case scenarios rarely happen, but it’s important to think about them beforehand so you’re prepared in case they do. In this guest blog Jenny Wise explains how careful preparation not only equips you to handle a problem, but it also helps you avoid those issues happening in the first place.
Getting Lost or Separated
Research the area where you’re going and keep a map on hand to help avoid anyone getting lost. Phones and GPS devices are great, but you never know when service may cut out, so an old-fashioned paper map is still the perfect tool. Before any outing, always tell someone else where you’re going and when you expect to return, especially if you're cycling in an area with no mobile coverage.
You also want to know what to do if kids get separated from you. Most kids who are old enough to be on their own bike can carry a small pack with basic gear, including a whistle to alert you if they become lost.
Explain to your child before that if they get lost they must stay in one place. This would be a scary situation for any child, especially ones with special needs or autism, but preparation can really help them stay calm until you can locate them.
An injury is possible with any physical activity, but safety precautions can help prevent it. When biking on trails, keep an eye out for sticks or anything else blocking the path. You should also research trail conditions ahead of time. Even if the weather is nice when you set out, an earlier storm could have caused flooding or muddy conditions that you need to be aware of. And of course, always carry a first aid kit so you’re prepared in case anyone does get injured.
Protective knee and elbow pads as well as gloves and helmets can help prevent injuries if your Cycle Sprog is attempting more technical trails or bike parks.
If you're going to be riding in an area without mobile coverage it's worth telling someone where you're going and what time to expect you to make contact.
Problems with your bike
One of the most common things to go wrong on a family cycle ride is a mechanical problem with a bike. Keep all the bikes in your family well maintained, and ensure you do the M-Check before you start off.
Punctures can be harder to avoid, and knowing how to remove your wheel and tyres and replace the inner tube are basics which will keep you moving. Obviously you need to make sure you're carrying a puncture repair kit and pump in your backpack or saddle bag!
Always check the weather forecast for your destination right before going because the weather can change quickly. If there is any chance of extreme heat or cold, make sure you’re dressed accordingly and know how to spot any concerns. Know the signs of heat exhaustion so you can identify it and intervene if anyone ends up in a dangerous situation. You can also prevent problems by staying aware of sun exposure and avoiding being out at the hottest part of the day during summer.
Staying hydrated is another concern anytime you exercise, but this is especially true in times of high heat. Remind all family members to drink water frequently. If your child gets to the point where they feel thirsty, they’re already dehydrated.
Even when you check the forecast, weather can be unpredictable, so prepare the whole family for what to do in a storm. If you ever get caught in lightning and can’t get indoors right away, stay low and avoid any open shelters. A tent or gazebo may seem like a safe place to wait it out, but sheltering in anything open actually puts you in greater danger.
Wild animals usually keep to themselves, but encountering them on their turf is always a possibility. If you're in the UK, then deer or birds of prey are probably the most extreme wild animals you'll come across, coupled with bulls in a farmer's field.
However, if you're cycling in other areas, particularly the forests of North America, you may come across bears, coyotes, cougars and other wild animals. If this is the case, do your research and know how to react if you have an encounter.
These situations sound scary, but failing to prepare for them is scarier. Being active outdoors is a wonderful way for families to bond and explore nature. Spending just a little time preparing will ensure you’re ready for anything so that emergencies don’t ruin the fun.
Other posts you may find useful:
- 10 ways to keep your kids safe when cycling on a hot day
- Family Cycling Safety for Winter
- Teaching Children With Autism a Love of Cycling
- How to get more children cycling safely to your school
- How we became a mountain biking family in just one year
- Kids hydration packs - pros and cons of using them on a family bike ride
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