Tree climbing is a natural and free way for your kids to play while strengthening their muscles and experiencing the world from another angle. The feel of the wind, the roughness of the bark, the fresh smell and the beautiful view from above will stimulate their senses and reduce stress. Climbing a tree is very safe when the right precautions are taken. Today we will take a look at some of the steps you and your child can take to ensure safety with exploring the world from above.
Before heading out:
- Check weather conditions. Avoid climbing in extreme wind, thunderstorms or when branches are icy.
- Check your feet. Barefoot is the way my kids usually choose to climb. Being barefoot helps you to be able to grip with your toes and to select more optimal foot placements. It also adds to the sensory experience! Understandably not all kids like to go barefoot though and your feet will certainly be better protected with a good pair of shoes. Look for something with a flexible, but strong sole and good traction. Avoid climbing in Crocs, thin soled shoes, open toe sandals or heavy boots.
- Check your clothing. Clothing should be comfortable, durable and flexible for free movement. Avoid tight and restrictive clothing or clothing that is too baggy and could get caught easily. Going against all clothing guidelines my daughter once decided to climb a tree first thing in the morning in her untied bathrobe. Yea, she is THAT kid and I am so glad. I love my spunky girl!
Guidelines for safer tree climbing
1- Look for power lines. Power lines are extremely dangerous. Children should be taught to step back from a tree before climbing and take a good look around to check for any lines.
2- Check the ground for cracks and raised dirt. Large cracks leading to the tree could be signs the tree is uprooting. Take caution and investigate the tree further before deciding to climb.
3- Inspect the bark. Large sections of missing bark could mean the tree is dying or that it was struck by lighting in the past possibly causing weakness in the tree.
4- Look for fungus at the base. Fungus growth is often found when the roots begin decaying or the tree trunk is rotting.
5- Check the ground and tree for poisonous plants. Poison ivy can often be found growing up the side of trees.
6- Look for animal homes. You don’t want to step on a yellow jacket nest or climb a limb where a bird has made a home. Practice teaching your child to look out for and respect the homes of nature’s creatures.
7- Stay near the trunk. This is a great tip for younger kids or those just starting their tree climbing adventures. As your child learns their comfort levels and limits they can venture out further on safe strong limbs.
8- Always keep three points of contact- (Two feet and a hand or two hands and a foot) on the tree surface.
9- Branch check. You want to avoid climbing a tree when you see a lot of dead branches either on the ground around it or still attached. Falling limbs are very dangerous. Especially watch for limbs that have fallen and are now dangling from another branch. Also looks can deceive when it comes to branch strength so don’t put your weight on anything you haven’t tested.
Avoid a branch if it looks
Bark is missing
Makes a cracking sound when you tug
Easily loses pieces of bark or soft chunks of wood
10- Descend slowly and carefully. If your path up the tree felt safe then try and follow it going back down as well. Take your time and test your footholds carefully before lowering yourself.
Please remember that you know your child best and are ultimately responsible for their safety. These tips are simply a guide to making tree climbing safer. Having knowledgeable climbers means we can worry a little less!
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I am just getting started in this barefoot blogging adventure, but you can look for more helpful guides, free printables, hands on learning ideas and more in the coming weeks.