Rock climbing is a rewarding and exciting activity that can help get kids outdoors, provide them with exercise, and help them build confidence in their abilities. While climbing can appear to be high-risk, it is statistically quite safe. The following is a short Kids Guide to Staying Safe While Climbing.
Check it out first
Go do some reconesance before taking your kids out to your climbing destination. Outdoor climbing locations often have hazards such as uneven ground and cliffs. Knowing what hazards exist before arriving will help you make an informed decision as to whether or not this is a safe place to recreate with your kids. Websites such as Mountain Project or Summit Post can help you select a climbing destination within your ability level and even have information regarding directions to the crag.
Wear a helmet
It might seem pretty straight forward, but wearing a helmet is one of the most effective ways you can protect your children while out for a day of climbing. There are two main types of helmets out there: webbing suspension helmets and foam helmets. While neither will guarantee the wearers safety, both will reduce the likelihood of a serious injury. Make sure you and your children put your helmets on BEFORE arriving at the base of the crag. Some things to keep in mind:
- Helmets need to fit correctly to be effective
- Helmets don't last forever, inspect them regularly for signs of wear
- After a collision, a helmet may need to be retired
Follow this link to the REI website for more information regarding types of helmets, correct fit, and standards and certifications.
Select the correct harness
Just like a climbing helmet, not all climbing harnesses are created equal. In general, the strength rating of climbing harnesses will be comparable, however there are harnesses specifically sized for children. Make sure that your child has a harness that fits them correctly and is adjusted properly. Make sure to inspect your child's harness prior to EVERY use for excessive wear.
Stretch before climbing
Stretching is important prior to all physical activity to reduce the chances of muscular injury and climbing is no different. Lead your kids in some stretches before getting on the rock to avoid strains and sprains. If you need some ideas, InjuryFix has some stretches specific to climbing here. They also offer suggestions for injury prevention and describe some of the most common rock climbing injuries.
Hire a guide
It might seem silly to suggest this, but a certified guide is one of the best options for a safe climbing outing for your children (and you!). There are hundreds of guiding services all over the country and a simple google search will provide you with plenty of options. When selecting a guiding service, make sure you understand and feel good about their company policies concerning safety. Also make sure their guides areAMGA certified.
If you have any legal concerns regarding injuries to your children while climbing, please feel free to contact us. Thanks so much. Be safe and have fun out there!