Free-Range Kids

"Avoid Forests" and Other Helpful Summer Safety Tips


Now's the time for summer fun…warnings. New Jersey's Star Ledger lists "46 Ways to Have a Safer NJ Summer." That's right,  almost 50 helpful precautions to digest before the children of the Garden State are faced with the horror of the great outdoors.

The tips range from the helpful ("If you're caught in a rip current…swim parallel to the shore") to the blindingly obvious ("Use insect repellent") to the stunningly, blindingly, in case you just arrived from Alpha Centauri obvious ("If you see a bear while out hiking, do not feed or approach it"). Really? Not even if it's a cute cub out with its mama?

While it's not a bad idea to learn how to take a bee stinger out (although the words "venom sac" do give pause), it is truly a terrible idea to plan for an afternoon outside as if it's the invasion of Normandy.

Some of these tips almost guarantee you and/or your kids will cower inside all day with Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare instead of heading out to enjoy the warm weather.

For instance:

"Avoid forests"

Swear to God, the list says to avoid God's gift. After all, you could get ticks.

"Soak in the sun…for five to 10 minutes a day."

If you go out for any longer than that unslathered in sunscreen, you might as well call Sloan-Kettering right now.

"Talk to the lifeguards"

That is, distract them from looking out for drowning folks while you grill them about "water conditions and the existence of dangerous currents."

"Don't dig too deep"

Because once, in 2012, a child smothered in a sand tunnel, you should worry about every hole your kids dig from now on.

And my favorite:

"Supervise children on playgrounds. Adults should always [boldface, mine] be nearby when children are on playgrounds. When kids are playing on the equipment, they can sometimes stumble or become off balance for a moment….If parents are nearby, they can catch the child before they fall and possibly injure themselves."

So put down that peach, stop talking to the other moms, and stand, arms outstretched, under the jungle gym. After all, your kid could "become off balance for a moment." No children have ever been known to survive that condition.

Be prepared.

For more stories like this one, check out Lenore Skenazy's Free-Range Kids blog.

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  1. Looks like they’ll all grow up to be fine Democrat voters. For the children.

  2. Well Jersey is a very dangerous place. But mostly it’s just the Guidos we worry about.

    1. And the Guidos are always worried about the Blacks.

      1. But Guidos are like lyme ticks. They attach themselves to you and induce a permanent flu-like lethargy.

        1. I believe the medical term for that is herpes. They give you herpes.

    2. To be fair, if you walk around the forest of NJ you might stumble on a mafia burial. Which could be pretty dangerous.

      1. Have you been to NJ?

        I have more trees in my back yard than they do in the whole state.

        1. Bullshit.

          Jersey is very heavily forested.

          1. If by “forest,” you mean “landfills,” then yes.

            1. Obviously you’ve never been to Jersey or have a very limited knowledge of it.

              1. I grew up in south jersey. What you would call a “forest” would be called a park anywhere in the southeast.

                1. Never made north of Monmouth county I see.

                  1. Exactly. I grew up in Morris County (Jefferson Twp and Rockaway). We had bears in the backyards all the time, Deer everywhere, fishing, pheasant hunting, wild turkeys (thise fuckers are HUGE), etc.

                    People have a layover in the shithole Newark, or watch Sopranos or Jersey Shore and that’s the stereotype they have of it.

        2. Look up the words “Pine Barrens.”

  3. As one who had a horse AND a bb gun AND would be gone from the house from morning until evening, how did I ever survive??? I feel sorry for kids today.

    1. how did I ever survive?

      By not being a pussy, very unlike these idiots.

      1. You can’t blame the kids for the Star-Ledger employing pansified fuckwits.

  4. So put down that peach, stop talking to the other moms, and stand, arms outstretched, under the jungle gym.

    Why do you even need to be there to begin with, unless your kid is, say, under 5 years old? Whenever I played on the playground outside the town pool, my mom was 5 miles away, at home. In fact, I don’t recall ever seeing a single adult at that playground.

    We had an awesome time climbing up the spiral tunnel slide and standing on the swings.

    1. The earlier they teach these kids that they’re monitored 24/7, the better!



    3. That was back in the days before there was a child molester on every street corner.

      1. No, I was around.

  5. If you think people don’t need to be told to stay away from bears and other dangerous wild animals, you obviously have never spent anytime out west. People are fucking morons. The rangers in Yellowstone spend a good chunk of their time keeping the idiots who have watched one too many Disney movies away from the bears.

    1. The rangers in Yellowstone spend a good chunk of their time keeping the idiots who have watched one too many Disney movies away from the bears.

      Sounds like their time would be better spent encouraging natural selection.

    2. I once hiked in Glacier NP for a week. When you’re coming out of the backcountry, you start seeing Normals as you get within maybe a half mile of the trailheads. Two things really stood out about them: they were all walking into bear country wearing perfumes that smelled like flowers and fruit, and not one of them appeared to notice the grizzly bear and her cub that were eating huckleberries on the hillside 200 yards away. Is there a word for obliviousness-to-the-point-of-idiocy?

      1. Why the fuck would you wear perfume while hiking anyways?

        1. They weren’t hiking. They were driving to a trailhead so they could walk 100 feet into a forest and say they went hiking.

      2. I think I’ve told this story before, but at the law firm I worked at, the husband of one of the lawyers was hiking in Alaska with a friend. Supposedly they were wearing bear bells and at least having some sense of what they were doing.

        They came across a grizzly mother and cub. The hiking buddy made it out OK, but evidently the lawyer-husband walked in between the mother and cub and that was the end of the him,

        1. I was very uncomfortable being in grizzly country without a weapon. I don’t think I’ll do it again.

          1. Bear spray and a 44 magnum revolver

            1. Make sure you file the front sight off the revolver so it doesn’t hurt so much.

              1. That’s only when I use the Judge

                1. The Judge’s grip is ribbed for her pleasure.

        2. I love stories like this with a happy ending.

      3. Probably my least intelligent choice made while hiking was getting drunk and proceeding to chase a golden bear with a camera trying to get a good shot.

        Better lucky than good.

      4. In Glacier there are big signs that warn you in ALL CAPS about the bear danger. Then again I did see tourists drinking water pouring off a rock directly behind the THIS WATER CONTAINS GIARDIA sign.

        1. I think those signs should be removed. Similar to traffic signs, if you treat people like childish fuckwits, they will act like childish fuckwits.

        2. I love seeing all the pictures of people who camped in Yosemite and had their cars pried open like tin cans because they left some food in there despite all the warnings.

          Yosemite Valley has to be the nexus of stupid people doing stupid things with black bears.

  6. Okay Lenore, the honeymoon is over. Next post requires a clever pic and even cleverer alt-text.

  7. OT:

    1 Million and 1 Ways Bureaucrats Waste Taxpayer Money, #54985:

    -Requiring teleworkers come in for an in-person meeting on their telework day, instead of setting up a conference call. The gubmint will lose about 2 and 1/2 hours of my time by making me come in. And I live relatively close to the office. In total, to listen to some asshole from the White House talk about the brilliance of their restructuring plan (our 3rd restructuring in 7 years), will cost probably a good 40+ man-hours.

    1. reorganization: the illusion of progress.
      We’re doing it too

    2. Telework is itself a waste. Nothing personal against you, Kristen, but telework is just the final step in making sure an employee is completely unaccountable for producing anything. It’s great if the employee is trustworthy (as I’m sure you are), but how many employees are trustworthy when no one is checking in on them?

  8. Because once, in 2012, a child smothered in a sand tunnel, you should worry about every hole your kids dig from now on.

    When I was a kid, we lived next to an abandoned sand quarry. One of my favorite memories is of the time we dug a tunnel parallel to the cliff face.

    1. I grew up in an area that was experiencing a lot of growth. There were construction sites everywhere. Big ones too, and most were not fenced in. We used to swim in the retaining ponds. In hindsight, some of them were steep-walled and slippery. I’m surprised we always made it back out…

  9. I think that my teenage years, particularly after getting a driver’s license and a car, were magnitudes more dangerous than anything I did as a kid.

    I can recall getting locked in some weird in-the-ground trash can when I was in 1st grade by some other kid (serious suffocation risk) and some wicked bike wipeouts, but nothing that would have killed me otherwise. And that was in the kid-genocidal 60’s.

    1. No way. At least in a car, you’re surrounded by a ton of steel.

      As a kid, I drove my dirtbike up an embankment trying to launch myself over a little fire we had built like some Evil Kinevil shit. I wound up landing on my back with the bike on top of me. It was only an 80cc kawasaki, but still, that shit hurt.

  10. Why would I want to injure myself catching a falling child?

  11. “…If parents are nearby, they can catch the child before they fall and possibly injure themselves…”

    Your parents love you almost as much as the Federal Government.

  12. “Avoid forests”

    That’s where Slender Man likes to hang out.

    “Don’t dig too deep”

    You wouldn’t want a repeat of the Mines of Moria, would you?

    1. Yes the ever present threat of accidentally freeing a Balrog looms over us all!

  13. Some of these tips almost guarantee you and/or your kids will cower inside all day with Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare instead of heading out to enjoy the warm weather.

    Uh… So, what’s wrong with cowering inside all day with Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare instead of enjoying the scorching Houston TX heat?

    1. For you, nothing. Kid’s should go outside and get exercise and invent their own games and adventures. Not that there should be a law or anything, of course.

    2. Houston heat does not scorch. It boils.

      West Texas scorches.

  14. I saw Lenore on Stossel I think about a year ago talking about Free Range Kids and it really reminded me of a story from when my brother and I and our 2 cousins were about 8-10 years old, give or take.

    My Aunt sent the 4 of us on bikes to accompany one of my cousins to an eye appointment in a strip mall about 10 minutes away on bike. I remember being a bit surprised that she had us go on our own as they lived in a neighborhood that was rougher than what I was used to.

    All she did was instruct the four of us hombres to stick together and come home after the appointment. Still remember it to this day as being a great example of teaching your children to not fear their own shadow and to be resourceful.

    And it was a great adventure for the 4 of us just simply doing something adult-like on our own.

    Both of my cousins have had their ups and downs but have really cultivated an ability to get along in life by doing their own thing.

    I really appreciate Lenore’s perspective. Obv.

    1. Today, the kids probably aren’t allowed to go to the eye appointment without a parent. I have run into that twice lately–the doctor’s office INSISTS that a parent be with the ‘child’ even though she is 17.

  15. This article is written by a summer intern for the Star Ledger. NJ, you’re better than this.

  16. It’s stuff like this that makes me not want to be a parent. I know what kind of parent I will be and I’m worried I’ll have my kid taken away just because he scuffed his knee while jumping out of a swing or something.

  17. Lenore Skenazy posting at Reason! This made my day!!

  18. Why isn’t this article about what the real story behind the Star Ledger’s article is, namely: the complete and total collapse of print media companies, and how their new “digital” brands are basically link bait and SEO manipulation?

  19. I was 8 or 9. Went fishing by myself early one Pennsylvania May morning. I was playing around with this big silver spinner that was probably completely inappropriate for the lil creek. Got it caught on a log on the bottom, out in the middle of the water. It didn’t look too deep, so me and my waders trudged out to retrieve it. A step or two away from my target, the bottom dropped off an extra foot or so and my waders went under. I quickly detached from the waders, got the lure, waders, pole and got out of the water. On the opposite bank.

    Had to disrobe and lay on a sunny rock to warm up. Eventually I found a place to cross back over without getting soaked again, retrieved my tacklebox, and made the halfmile trek back to the house.

  20. I suppose that today if they saw a 7 yr old on an ATV with a Winchester 94 chasing down groundhogs and rabbits not wearing a helmet or shirt for that matter they would probably SWAT the poor lad. Glad I grew up in the 80s.

  21. maybe this lady should stop giving out stupid advice and raise mony and hire a bunch of lawyers, either to sue the state, or keep them on retainer to help people out who are targeted by overzealous CPS agents (the recent story where the kid got suspended because the other kid said “he’s making gun motions!” when the kid was just twilring his pencil; if you guys remember CPS actually got involved and coerced the parents into giving a bunch of tests to the kid)

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