Outdoor Safety: Snakebite, First Aid Do’s and Don’ts

As a Biology teacher and amateur herpetologist, I have encountered numerous snakes, both in the wild and in captivity, and I always marvel at their beauty and elegant design. The vast majority of the world’s serpents are non-venomous and completely harmless to humans. However, if you live on any continent other than Antarctica, there is a possibility that you may encounter one of the more dangerous species during your outdoor activities. If you follow a few simple rules, you should come away from the encounter with nothing more than a sense of exhilaration at having seen one of nature’s wonders.

If you are bitten, however, your awe-inspiring encounter has now turned into a medical emergency. Snake venom can cause extreme pain, serious tissue damage, and even death, if left untreated. Students and friends frequently ask me what they should do in such a situation. Again, following a few basic guidelines can help ensure that you survive the ordeal, hopefully a little wiser for the experience.

Since an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, let’s talk about how you can avoid being bitten in the first place.

1. Treat ALL snakes as potentially venomous. This means keep your distance! As a general rule, you should keep at least one body length (the snake’s, not yours) away. This keeps you well out of the “strike zone.” For most of the common venomous species, ten to twelve feet should do it. This rule also means that you should never handle a snake, no matter how pretty it looks or how docile it seems. Content yourself with taking pictures.

2. When hiking, step ON, not over obstacles. As you hike, you may encounter large rocks, fallen trees, etc. in your path, and sometimes it is tempting to jump over them. Resist this temptation! A snake could well be sheltering itself on the far side of the obstacle. Stepping on the rock or log gives both you and the snake some warning of approaching danger. Remember, nine times out of ten, the snake will move away to avoid a confrontation if it knows you are coming.

3. Do not run. The faster you are moving, the less time the snake has to react to the vibrations you are generating and move out of your way, so running through the woods is not a good idea. Some people react to seeing a venomous snake (or hearing a rattle) by running in the opposite direction. This is also dangerous. The sound of a rattlesnake is difficult to localize if you can’t see the snake, and you may end up running right toward it. If you see it and run away, you could well find yourself running into the path of another snake! Walk away in a calm manner.

4. Familiarize yourself with the venomous snakes in your area. Forewarned is forearmed. Be aware of any dangerous wildlife in the location where you will be hiking or camping. Know their usual habitats and use caution when exploring such habitats.

Okay, so you’ve followed all the safety advice, and you got bitten anyway. What should you do? The decisions you make now can literally save life and limb. In any snakebite emergency, you should take the following steps:

1. First, remain calm. I know. This is easier said than done, but it is important nonetheless. The more anxious you become, the faster your heart beats, and the faster the venom spreads throughout your body.

2. Call 911. If you have access to a phone, the first thing you should do

Summer Safety for Children Living in the Desert

As Summer quickly approaches, Summer safety for children is often brought into every day discussions. Common Summer safety topics include covering pools to reduce drowning risks and tips for avoiding heat exhaustion. But there are other dangers present to young children during the Summer months, especially when living desert areas. A few extra precautions need to be taken during the Summer months when living in these hot and dry environments.

Snake and Scorpions

As the weather heats up in the desert, snakes and scorpions come out from hiding and pose a danger to young children enjoying the Summer weather. Snakes and scorpions are common inhabitants of desert environments. They are especially dangerous for young children because they often hide in unsuspecting places and children are often easy targets.

A Summer safety tip for children who live in the desert includes protecting them from theses desert inhabitants. You must educate your children about the dangers snakes and scorpions posses. Make sure your children know to never play with them. If they see a snake or scorpion make go get an adult.

Before allowing your children to play outside, walk the perimeter of your yard and look for snakes and scorpions. If your yard contains children’s toys, move all the toys, look underneath them, in them, and on them to make sure there are no dangers lurking. Also check bushes, porches, and patios for signs of snakes and scorpions.

Flash Flooding

Flash flooding is also a common occurrence during the Summer months in the desert. Summer safety for children needs to include educating your child about flash flooding, especially in monsoon areas. Flash floods can occur quickly and without notice. It is very easy for children to be swept away in the fast moving flood waters.

When you live in the desert, it’s important to educate your children about flash floods. Make sure your kids know not to play outside during storms, even if it is raining lightly. Flash floods can occur very suddenly. Make sure your child knows if they see the waters of a flash flood to get to higher ground immediately. They need to know to never play in the water no matter how shallow or calm it may appear.

These are common tips for Summer safety for children that often go un-discussed. These dangers are present no matter where you live in the desert. Make sure your children know the consequence of these dangers and how to react appropriately when in the situation.

Why Eating Family Style Meals is Important for Children

Young children are at the age where they are learning how to assert their independence. They want to make decisions for themselves, and rely less on adults. Serving family style meals is a great way to let children do things for themselves. A lot of families today are eating dinner in separate rooms, or at different times. Read why it’s important to eat together with your children at meal times.

At my daycare, we are required to eat at the table with the kids in our care. At lunch time, we sit down and let the kids serve themselves. We pass around bowls of food and let the kids take what they want. They can even pour their drink from a small pitcher. The older the kids are, the more freedom they have as far as serving themselves. Toddlers, on the other hand, need more assistance than the older children. Letting kids serve themselves teaches them that they can do things for themselves. When you are constantly serving foods to your children, they are not learning anything, except how to be lazy and let other people do things for them.

Let your children take part in meal preparation. For example, let your child toss the salad or put dinner rolls into a basket. What you allow them to do really depends on their age. I wouldn’t recommend giving knives to any child, and I wouldn’t recommend letting kids handle hot foods or raw meat either. Give them simple tasks to perform. When it comes time to eat, let them help set the table. After dinner is finished, let them help clean up

Family style meals also help children develop several different skills. Motor skills can be developed from picking up serving bowls and utensils, and serving food. Social skills, language skills and manners are developed through conversation at the dinner table. Make sure you set a good example for your kids by saying “please” and “thank you”. Whatever your kids hear you say, they will most likely repeat. Model good eating behavior. Wash your hands before you eat, chew with your mouth closed, use a napkin to wipe your mouth, and never talk with your mouth full of food! Also, you can also help kids develop language skills by talking about the food on the table. Even toddlers can learn simple food words like apple, meat, noodles, beans, milk and more.

One thing I love about eating family style meals with my toddlers at daycare is the fact that I can get my picky eaters to actually try foods! With a normal class of 5 kids, if one child is picky and doesn’t want to eat their green beans, I normally will say “Look, Ava is eating her green beans”. Once the picky eater sees their friend eating the green beans, the child may want to try them as well. This doesn’t always work, but it’s a good idea to try that has worked for me.

If you aren’t already eating family style meals, you could introduce this concept to your children by setting up a table with play food and plates. Let them use their imagination and see what comes of it. Start small. It takes time to develop family style service, but be persistent. Begin with family style snacks and work your way up to a full dinner. With time, your children will learn manners and how to be independent. This foundation in the early years will lead to a lifetime of good habits.

Tips on Ensuring the Safety of Children as They Cross the Streets

There are some basic concepts about road safety that are introduced to a child at an early age, but basically they are not only meant for children. Most people quite often miss these basic but very important road safety rules.

For their own safety in crossing the streets, children are often asked to ensure that they know the safety rule that in most cases may just appear as mare songs unless enforced. For example, the basic “stop, look, and listen” rule can only be effective if parents and older children are able to teach their children how to apply them in real life.

Children have been taught and will have an idea of the dangers on the roads through their day today lessons. But they actually do not understand just how bad or dangerous these roads can turn out to be unless they actually see the accidents occur. Putting the safety songs into practice ought to be the best way of tackling these issues. They can be supervised by parents or their teachers to start crossing the neighborhood streets before trying on the main roads. If the songs are put into action they will always remember their importance and always try to practice those measures.

It is also very important to teach them the meaning and usage of traffic lights. They need to understand how to respond to the lights as pedestrians and what they need to adhere to as they advance to learn how the whole concept of the lights controls of the traffic. Children should know and take it to be a good important practice to request adults to assist them to cross or better still cross the roads with them. Most people would be good enough to assist.

Ensuring children safety when they cross the streets may be tricky because of the law breaking motorists on the roads. A child may have been taught all the basic rule of traffic including the traffic and road signs, vehicles warning signs such as horns, lights, and sirens but unpredictable accidents may occur due to some irresponsible driver. It may not be easy for a child to foresee such reckless drivers or to predict ugly scenarios and avoid them even when they know how to apply those basic road safety measures. For example, a child might now the right time and place to cross the road but my not be in a position to tell or estimate the approaching speed of an oncoming vehicle. For these reason it is usually advisable for children below the age of eleven to cross the road with adults even when they know how to do it on their own. They should also be discouraged from crossing or playing near the road when it is dark.

It is not advisable for children traveling by bus to immediately cross the road upon alighting. There is need for one to take time to analyze the state of the road before crossing. There are children whom may be riding bicycles or skates by the road. They are prone to accidents than those walking because their concentration is more on the bikes and skates than on the road or the vehicles passing by. They need to ensure they stay along the bike routes to avoid accidents. Protective wears such, as helmets are also vital for them.

Generally, it is common for people to cross the streets even when they are not sure if it is safe to do so. One rule that must be practiced by all pedestrians should be that they must not cross the streets when they

Family Things to Do when Your Husband is Gone in the Evenings

Picture that iconic family meal together. Although research proves that families who eat together on a regular basis don’t have as many domestic issues, this may not be the most practical ideal for your family. See article.

Perhaps your husband has an evening job or is attending night school. When my husband went back to college, I wanted more than four kids and I staring at each other and missing Dad three nights a week for eighteen months. With a little planning this can be a great time for your family. At the beginning of “Dad’s school”, I made a “no moping rule.” The children could say “I miss Dad,” but only one time each day. Any more than once was complaining.

Here are some ways we made it special.

1. Food-If there is a meal the children love but your husband doesn’t, this is the opportunity to make it. (You should still have something available for your husband, even if it is leftovers from yesterday). Since spaghetti is a favorite meal for me and the children, but not the husband, we planned to have “Spaghetti night” on the night Dad went from work to class. We loved “spaghetti night”. Of course, once dinner is done and cleaned up, you still may have an hour or two to fill until bedtime.

2. Activities-We try to fill one of our “Dad’s school” nights with a going away activity. I signed the kids up for 9 week swimming lessons at the YMCA on Tuesday nights. The kids learned to swim. I relaxed in the hot tub. All four kids were showered and pajama-ed before we left the Y. When we returned home, it was “snack, brush teeth, and bedtime”. Those kids fell asleep quickly after all that swimming. You also may find a Wednesday night church program for all ages during the school year. Remind yourself that you can’t do everything, and do not plan to be gone three nights a week. It will most likely exhaust you and your family.

3. Books-(Yes, really). Pick a chapter book that will appeal to all the ages of your kids. I like the Chronicles of Narnia series or the Boxcar Children. Pick a book you cannot finish reading in an evening so they have something to look forward to next week. Have them get you a nice glass of water, cuddle up on the couch, and read until bedtime. Stop dramatically at the end of each chapter or at an especially exciting part so they can say “Please keep reading!” Thursday night is book night.

4. Movie night-While we do try to limit “movie nights” to weekends only, it is an occasional treat. (Actually, it is more appreciated because it happens rarely). Make popcorn and fill travel mugs with root beer or chocolate milk. We use travel mugs to avoid spills in the living room. Make “movie night” an occasion.

5. Games-One of our favorite things was to get out those battery-powered guns that shoot foam discs. We used the whole house and the “team approach” to dodge and shoot and surprise each other. We also used a “family team approach” for cleaning up all those foam discs. If you have a gaming system, you could use the evening for games. We also had racing tournaments on the Wii.

6. Special Privileges-Since it was “Dad’s school night,” the young twins were excited to sleep in their brother’s bed on the top bunk. The older two children shared the bottom bunk. Yes, it took a little longer to fall asleep but it was only one

One Family’s New Beginning

How I get more reading in

Being forced for economic reasons to use my noisy exercise bike along with my noisy elliptical glider got me thinking of ways to keep from being bored during indoor workouts. When I have the option I would rather be outdoors but when it is too hot or too cold, I am forced to exercise indoors.

My dilemma was, “How do I keep from getting bored while working out indoors?” Well, the first thing that came to my mind was watch TV during my workout. Unfortunately, that only works if you have enough volume on your TV to override the loud noise of old and I might add cheep exercise equipment. Now is definitely not the time for us to invest in expensive equipment so I did the next best thing, I decided to supply myself with books and magazines to read. I find that when I read, I can not only ignore the noise, but, I also loose myself in what I am reading. I get so engrossed in reading that a half hour workout turns into an hour workout before I can put the book down.

Treasured Books from my Mother in Law

Today, I picked another blessing in disguise! I received several books from my Father in Law that belonged to his wife, who currently is in a nursing home with Alzheimer’s. What a blessing it is to be able to read the books that she once read. This gives me the opportunity to get to know her better. She is a lovely spirit filled Christian who although she has Alzheimer’s, continues to be a blessing to everyone around here. She is filled with so much love for everyone in the nursing facility that they just can’t wait to see her every day when she does her daily walking throughout the Facility.

Today’s Reading

from the book entitled, “Those who came forward,” was about a man named Heintz and his family. Heintz managed to escape to West Germany after the war. He almost didn’t make it though because the dogs and the police were on his trail. He managed to go unnoticed when the police with machine guns were busy concentrating on a group of refugees trying to escape. Heintz just made it across the border at dawn.

Once he reached West Germany he married his childhood sweet heart, Gertrude, who had escaped to West Germany before he did. In their quest for success, Gertrude and Heinz studied thick books reading all the philosophies that flourished after post war Germany. They enrolled in evening courses in character building, positive thinking and even in astrology. When these failed to satisfy Heintz looked up other evening courses, so many that they merged and blurred, and still he came no closer to his goal. Next he turned to reading hour after hour, living in fear that someone would ask a question which he could not answer. With Gertrude he studied archeology, astronomy, art, evolution, physics — .

During this quest for knowledge they had two beautiful baby boys. Heintz’s dream was to become a famous wealthy chef but he had a language barrier which made it difficult for him to get recognized. At this time West Germany was becoming overly crowded.

An opportunity to move to Canada

One morning Gertrude’s sister appeared with rare good news. “Canada has opened the gates to German immigrants!” she said. “Who wants to go?” Their minds lightened with thought of escape from their gloomy, crowded city life. Canada was limitless with bright faced people, oil wells, cattle and land.

Family Get-Together Menu

In my house, dinner ideas are tough. This is especially true when I am preparing meals for members of our extended family. I have a few go-to favorites, but they certainly do not fill a menu. After hours of internet searches and one test meal, I settled on the menu for Easter this year. Here is what I made (with some commentary), and I hope it is helpful the next time you find yourself planning a big family meal–holiday or otherwise.

Pineapple, Orange, and Honey Glazed Ham

When I decided to make ham as my main dish for Easter, I had only ever baked one ham in my life. Finally settling on this one, I felt my lack of experience with baking a ham required that I follow the recipe exactly. I decided to have a “test run” of my menu the weekend before Easter. The recipe says the ham needs to spend two and a half hours in the oven at 325 degrees. The practice ham burned after only an hour and forty-five minutes. My husband’s grandmother suggested baking the next one at 225 degrees for five hours. I followed her temperature advice, and the ham only needed four hours in the oven. Of course, exact baking times vary from oven to oven. The glaze, unlike the ham, was easy to make by simply following the recipe. Over all, the ham was a success.

Deviled Eggs

I love deviled eggs, and I never turn down an excuse to make them. Still, I have only made them a handful of times, and I decided to try out a different recipe this time around. I skipped the garnish. The eggs were good, and I definitely recommend using a recipe with pickle relish over one without–or at least adding diced pickles to a recipe.

Green Bean Casserole

I have made green bean casserole several times, and it is so easy that I feel I do not need a recipe anymore. I love this dish, and it tends to be a hit at my family gatherings. Some of my family members dislike mushrooms, so I skipped them. I also added some shredded cheese and fried onions before baking it initially, and I still added some to the top at the end.

Sweet Potatoes

This is another dish I have made before. However, for the first time, I used a recipe that called for fresh sweet potatoes instead of canned. This make the sweet potatoes take longer to make, but it is a healthier option. Of course, any dish topped with marshmallows is not going to be remarkably healthy no matter what recipe a person follows. The most important thing to remember when using fresh sweet potatoes for this casserole is to boil them until they are soft and easy to mash. I used very large sweet potatoes, and they took closer to half an hour to boil (compared to the recipe’s fifteen minute suggestion).

Twice Baked Potatoes

I am confident in my twice-baked-potato-making skills, so I did not use a recipe at all. In fact, I did not even measure my ingredients. However, I have found a recipe to share. Personally, I just use sour cream, shredded cheese, and bacon. As my husband says, it is pretty difficult to mess up a twice baked potato.

Roasted Asparagus

This barely qualifies as a recipe at all. It is so simple that I am embarrassed to admit I needed it, but I had never made asparagus before. It is very easy, and I think anyone who likes asparagus would approve.

Dinner Rolls

The dinner rolls 

Outdoor Game Ideas for Picnics, Family Reunions and Parties

Getting together with family and friends is always fun, but why not make it even more memorable by adding some active outdoor games to play. These games are not only fun but the perfect entertainment to go along with all the great food and conversation.

Mix up the outdoor games at your next family gathering by adding one of these fun games along with the traditional tug of war, kickball, and softball games to create something new.

Outdoor Game Ideas

For large picnics or family gatherings, the All Up Relay outdoor game is a fun game for people of all ages.

To play this fun outdoor game, the following materials are required: Long jump rope or piece of rope, two hula hoops, 3 plastic toy bowling pins or empty 2-Liter plastic soda bottles and whistle.

For starters, it is easy to turn your park or backyard into a relay zone for this fun game. Use a jump rope or spray paint to indicate the starting line. At the opposite end of the relay running space which should be twenty to fifty feet long, place the two hula hoops side by side. Place three of bowling pins in one of the circles.

To play, divide players into two groups of equal numbers behind the starting line. Blow the whistle to indicate the start of the relay. The first person in each line runs forward and with one hand only, moves the bowling pin from one circle to the other. Each club must stand and none can touch the outline of the circle. Once finished, the relay participant runs bag and touches off to the next person in line by touching them on the hand. The second player runs forward to the circles and changes the pin back to the other hula hoop ring. The relay continues and the winning team is the one that has their last player cross over the finish line first.

Another fun game for your next family reunion or company picnic is the Arrow Chase. Materials needed for the game are just sidewalk chalk and a stop watch.

Ideal for a park or large outdoor setting, this fun game combines hide and seek and tag.

The group is divided into two equal groups, one will be the running group and the other the hunting group. Each member of the running group should have a piece of chalk. The object is to lead the hunting group on a wild path with twist and turns so they can make it back to the starting line without out being caught by the hunting group.

At every ten feet, the running group draws an arrow at some point along their path. The hunting group begins at the at the starting place and waits two minutes prior to starting to give the running group time to get a head start.

The running group should use all possible finesse in making it difficult to find their arrows, although the arrow must be in plain sight, though not necessarily from the point of view of the course taken. It may be marked on the farther side of a post, stone, etc., or at a considerable height, or near the ground, but never under a ledge or where it might not be seen plainly by any one standing in front of it.

The running group will naturally take a course that leads them back to the starting point, the hunting group, however, trying to overtake them before they can accomplish this.

Other fun outdoor games to bring along to your next family gathering or company

Outdoor Safety Tips for Children

Are you the parent of children who love to play outside? If you are, there is a good chance that your children, no matter what their ages, will spend a good portion of their summer outdoors.

As you likely already know, regularly playing outdoors is great for children, as it is fun, exciting, and helps to keep them active. With that in mind, however, you need to remember that playing outside can also be dangerous. That is why you will want to make sure that you take steps to ensure the safety of your children when they are playing outside, no matter what their age. Just a few of the many safety steps that you should take are outlined below.

One of the best ways for you to help keep your children safe when playing outdoors is by staying with them at all times. In all honesty, a large number of parents leave their children to play outside unattended. Of course, the decision as to whether or not you want your children supervised outside is yours to make, but there are a number of factors that you will want to take into consideration. For instance, how old are your children, where will they be playing, and how safe is your neighborhood?

Although it is advised that you always supervise your children, when outdoors, as you can never be too safe, there are steps that you can take to still keep them safe if you need to run inside for a few minutes. For instance, you could set up a baby monitor. This works great if you need to run inside and your children are old enough to be left alone for a few moments. Although older children may feel a little bit “silly,” being kept an eye on by a baby monitor, it is important to remind them that it is for their own safety.

Regardless of whether you are outside with your children or not, you will want to establish boundaries with them. This is very important, especially if you live in town or an area that is know for high speeding vehicles. For instance, if your children are allowed to play on your property let them know so. However, if you would like your children to stay only in the backyard, you will want to inform them of that request, as well as the consequences for not doing so.

Another way that you can keep your children safe when they play outside is one that you may not necessarily think of. What you will want to is make sure that your children toys are all picked up, each and every night. If you would prefer to leave your children’s toys out at night, you will want to make sure that you quickly examine them before they start playing with them. This is important if you rent an apartment or have neighbors who can’t seem to stay in their own yard. Personally, we have awoken to find my daughter outdoor toys missing, as well as ruined. In fact, her sandbox was even run over by a car late one night.

The above mentioned outdoor safety tips are just a few of the many that you can use to help keep your children safe, while they play outside. As a reminder, it is best if you use your best judgment. With that in that in mind, however, it is important to remember that you can never be too safe nowadays.

On when to Spank, Violence Against Children, and How to Prepare for Camp

Stop here every day for a new question and answer, practical help for busy parents.


I’m just curious. I’m a nanny who is also trying to conceive, and I find the idea of violence toward children abhorrent. But I would like to know at what age parents who do spank consider it appropriate to start. Would you spank your 9-month-old for trying to pull down the DVD player? Your 15-month-old for running off the porch after you told him to wait? Also, at what age do you stop?


Spanking is an incredibly polarizing topic, but your question is a good one.

The answer depends on how you define “spanking.” If you wish to punish a 2-year-old such that you can deter future bad conduct, you might consider a moderate slap on the back of the hand. For a young toddler, that constitutes a spanking.

Spanking children much younger than, say, 18 months is probably of little benefit. Children that young may have trouble connecting punishments to their own conduct. Other types of punishments, such as timeouts, often work equally poorly with very young children.

Once a child reaches 13 or 14, spanking becomes more difficult, and probably less effective than it was at earlier ages. However, by that time, parents can generally draw on a larger selection of potential punishments to establish discipline in the house. Grounding won’t generally faze a 3-year-old. But it could mean a lot to a teen.

I feel compelled to supplement my answer with a comment about your question. You said you find violence toward children “abhorrent.” To that I say, join the club.

All of us oppose violence against children. In my dictionary, the lead definition for violence is “Exertion of any physical force so as to injure or abuse.” I have yet to hear anyone of sound mind suggest that purposely injuring children is a good idea.

But corporal punishment, when administered correctly, is focused and controlled. The purpose is not to injure or to abuse, but instead to deter bad behavior. Parents punish children in an attempt to make the consequences of their action uncomfortable enough so that they will change their ways. For many children, corporal punishment works better than other types of punishment.

Unfortunately, some parents go overboard with punishments of all types. I recent weeks, I’ve read about parents who have starved their children, locked them in dark rooms for long periods of time, and beat them severely. All of these actions represent abuse. But the core punishments – going to bed without supper, serving a timeout, and receiving a spanking – are not abusive in and of themselves.

Child abuse isn’t a spanking problem, any more than it’s a timeout problem. Put the blame for abuse of any kind where it belongs – on the shoulders of the abuser. Because an adult who shows a lack of compassion or judgment can turn any punishment into abuse.


What kind of bedding do you take to a sleep-away camp? We know we have to bring a sleeping bag for her night out, but sheets or blankets? If so, do we pack her comforter?


The answer depends on the camp’s accommodations. If she will spend most nights sleeping in a bed, sheets and a blanket are probably fine. However, a sleeping bag can do the same job as traditional linens, and it provides more flexibility for camping or gathering to sleep in small groups.

I suggest sending her to camp with a sleeping bag, a pillow, and an extra blanket in case she gets cold. Keep the