Nothing is more rewarding than spending time in the great outdoors with your child. Passing on your love for hunting, camping, fishing and hiking is enjoyable for the parent and youngster.

Nothing is more rewarding than spending time in the great outdoors with your child. Passing on your love for hunting, camping, fishing and hiking is enjoyable for the parent and youngster.

And, while many parents who take their children on outdoor excursions prepare for potentially harmful situations by bringing along first-aid kits and other safety items, many are not prepared for what to do if their child becomes lost.

J. Wayne Fears, author of the book “How to Lost-Proof Your Child,” says seven out of every 10 children will become lost at some point in their childhood, and many of these lost-child situations occur in the wilderness.

“More than 2,000 children get lost in the U.S. every day,” Fears says. “And sadly, fewer than 9 percent of parents or guardians of children know what steps to take to prepare for a lost-child situation.”

Fears has participated in many wilderness search and rescue operations for children as part of his past job as a wildlife biologist and wildlife program manager. He says one thing became clear to him during his involvement in these operations.

“Many parents and caregivers do not go afield with children prepared to prevent losing a child,” Fears says. “If they did, most children would not get lost. If the parents and children follow a few simple rules and practice ‘what-if’ scenarios, fewer children would get lost.”

Preparing your child

- Dress the child in brightly colored clothing.
- Have a quality survival whistle for the child with instructions on use.
- Stress to your child the importance of staying with the group. He or she should not run ahead, lag behind, play hide, etc.
- Teach your child how to use kid-friendly binoculars.
- With larger groups of children, institute a buddy system.
- Know where your child is all the time.

If your child is lost

- Don’t panic. This is no time to lose your cool.
- Blow a whistle and listen. This is where good training pays off.
- Mark the last known spot where the child was seen, and leave someone there while another goes for help.
- Get professional help ASAP. Know in advance how to reach this help.
- Provide search-and-rescue assisters with current information on your child, such as his or her description, clothing, mood and shoe print.

As a parent, you can’t always prevent bad things from happening, but you can take steps to lessen their likelihood. Enjoy the wilderness with your children, but make sure you and your kids know what to do if one of them gets lost.