Keeping Track Of Your Kids And Pets After Sundown

Practice safe and fun ways to enjoy nighttime outside with these simple tricks.

By Adventurtunity Family
Explore Ambassador

Outdoor enthusiasts sure do get spoiled in the summer with long days full of light great for pursuing our outdoor passions. But oftentimes, especially in fall and winter, we find ourselves out before the sun rises and after it sets, whether it be heading to the boat dock, gearing up at a trailhead, going for a trail run, coming back from a day of adventuring or spending time at a campsite. And no matter where and what you are doing, keeping track of those with you is of the utmost importance. In fact, it’s vitally important, especially when you are out with your children and pets. Of course, when you’re out camping, hiking or just hanging out in the neighborhood and the sun goes down, it doesn’t mean the fun has to end. It just means you take a few extra precautionary steps to ensure you know where your group is at all times. We have found that there are a few ways to keep track of kids (and pets), whether they are right next to you or a reasonable distance away.

Our family started full-time adventuring in the fall of 2020. So, it wasn’t too long before the days started to get shorter and shorter. But with an active 3-year-old son who loves to explore, you can imagine that he was always on the go, and we wanted him to burn off as much energy as possible! Most campgrounds we stay at are family-friendly, safe and full of good people. But having eyes on our son is a top priority, no matter how secure our location is. So, as the sun goes down in the evening and he wants to keep playing, we employ one of several methods we have found to help us know exactly where he is at all times. The same thing goes for our pup. It’s rare that he gets to be off-leash, but when he can, we want him to stretch his legs as long as we know exactly where he is.

Our go-to option for keeping our son visible at night is magnetic shoe lights. These are actually designed for runners who run at night, but they work perfectly for our purposes, as well. They are small little devices that have a built-in, flashing LED light, one for each shoe. They magnetically clip on to his shoelaces or his clothing, and when turned on by a one-push touch, the red, flashing LED can be seen from quite a distance. Another benefit of these shoe lights is that they are also reflective. While the speed limit in most campgrounds is 5 mph, there is still automobile traffic, and the reflectivity is an extra feature to provide more visibility to those driving in vehicles. They’re also fun for him to wear as they are available in “cool” neon colors and shapes. He knows that once it starts to get dark, he has to put on his “blinkers” if he wants to keep playing outside. It’s pretty cool for us, too. We love when he puts them on, and we can see him having fun with the other kids he’s been playing with at the campground.

Another similar device we use is also designed for runners. It’s a heel clip-on light that has a red LED strip on the back that gives great visibility in the dark. It has multiple light modes that include two brightness levels as well as a flashing mode. They use tension to stay secure on the heel of your shoes and are operated with a simple power button. 

The best way to get kids to go along with these kinds of safety measures is to make them fun! One of our son’s favorite methods of nighttime visibility is glow sticks. These are a crowd-pleaser at parties or playdates, and kids love to make bracelets and necklaces out of them. While they are one-time use, they last for several hours and come in lots of different colors. Our son loves to mix and match colors to create his own style. We keep these throughout our RV and vehicle for whenever we may need them for ourselves or friends.

Sometimes we find ourselves biking throughout the campgrounds or a neighborhood after sundown. For this instance, we set up our son’s bike with some LED wheel lights. These are not only great for being able to see where he is while riding his bike, but he thinks they are super-cool as well! The lights are easy to install and come in a bunch of different colors to match the bike or your kid’s favorite color. Some can even change color to suit their mood. It’s also a great way for those driving through the campground to be able to see him riding around.

It’s one thing for us to be able to see our son and know where he is, but he also needs to be able to see where he’s going when it starts to get dark. So, we got him his own headlamp to wear. It’s a DinoBryte headlamp that has a dinosaur head on the front of it, and it roars when he turns it on! He loves to wear it, and it provides plenty of light for him to be able to see where he is going. The head strap is adjustable, so it fits him perfectly and can also grow with him. He even likes to wear it inside, turn his bedroom lights out and build Legos with his headlamp on!

We also have a few things to keep our eyes on our pup after dark. Even if we are walking him on a leash, it’s important for us to be seen by passing motorists or bicyclists, as well. So, the first thing we got for him was a leash with reflective stripes on it. This was an easy decision, as it requires no batteries and is just always there. We also got him an LED collar charm to turn on when we walk him at night or on the off chance he gets to run around off-leash after dark. There are lots of other dog-related accessories that can help you see your pet. Reflective and LED leashes, collars, charms and jackets all can help you keep track of your furry friends when the sun goes down.

While we focused on sharing ways to keep track of your kids and pets, it is equally important for your kids to be able to see you, too! Many of these items, like the magnetic blinkers, bike lights and headlamps, work great for adults, as well!

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