Every year during camping season, children and teens across Qatar are more prone to camping-related injuries. 

Dr Usama Al Kanani, attending physician from the Children’s Emergency Department (CED) of Sidra Medicine, said they have started to see more children coming to the Emergency Department with camping-related injuries – either sustained at the camp site or on the motorway while on journey to or back from camp. The most serious injuries in teenagers are those related to four-wheel bikes or ATV (All Terrain Vehicles).

In untrained hands and without safety measures, an ATV can cause serious injuries to the head, extremities, neck or abdomen. We have seen cases of children who were ejected from the bike or with broken bones or internal injuries because the ATV rolled over on to them. These children have to undergo multiple imaging while at the CED and be admitted as in-patients to ensure we monitor their progress.’

ATV stock image

Other common camping related paediatric injuries reported to the CED include:

  • Injuries as a result of children not using a car seat
  • Burns from camp fires or from mishandling equipment
  • Foot injuries after stepping on sharp objects like stones or thorns
  • Spider, snake or scorpion bites
  • Fractures or sprains as a result of tripping, slipping or falling down
  • Water-related injuries – near drowning or being stung by jellyfish
  • Dehydration due to sun exposure
  • Carbon Monoxide poisoning

While not all injuries are severe, some more serious injuries can lead to long term impairments or death. Parents need to ensure that their children are protected from head injuries, which is also quite common among young campers who are more likely to go off-balance easily. Parents are advised to think carefully about protective equipment for their children such as helmets, proper shoes and clothing before they head out camping.

For a safer camping experience, the Emergency Department at Sidra Medicine shares these tips for parents:

  • Make sure that children are wearing seat belt and are securely strapped (inside vehicles while travelling to and from camp).
  • ATVs are meant to be driven by ‘trained’ children over 12 years old. This vehicle should not be driven on motorways and young drivers should be supervised at all times by an adult. Always make sure your child is wearing a helmet as well as long sleeved shirts.
  • Take first aid kits with you to manage simple injuries. Pack eye drops and pain killers such as children’s ibuprofen or paracetamol.
  • Make sure to drink enough water and avoid staying in the sun for too long.
  • Always keep your children at a safe distance from fire and flammable liquids.
  • An adult with good swimming skills should always be present when children are swimming.
  • Check the tide reports and wind advisories before you head out camping.
  • Always shake out shoes in the morning – not only for sand but for scorpions, which often crawl inside shoes at night.
  • Keep your mobile phone with you and call 999 in case of an emergency.

Dr Al Kanani added that if a child sustains burns, apply cold water (NOT ice water) for at least 30 minutes to the affected area. Do not put any creams, oils, toothpaste or other products, just water. Give the child some analgesia like paracetamol or ibuprofen, and head to the nearest emergency department.

Poisonings are also very common during camping season and can be caused by various types of envenomation or smoke inhalation in poorly ventilated tents. Sidra Medicine has a poison helpline through its Qatar Poison Center4003 1111 – for poison treatment consultation available for children and adults. The free service is available from 9 am to 1 am, seven days a week.

Dr Leena Amine, Manager of Qatar Poison Center said the hotline will advise on appropriate first aid and treatment of each case.

Qatar Poison Center

Tips for common poisonings:

  • If your child is bitten by a snake or stung by a scorpion, seek immediate medical attention.  The Qatar Poison Center will be able to guide you with some immediate steps before you head to the emergency department or while waiting for an ambulance. Important things to consider are to immobilise the injured limb or body part. Remove shoes and tight clothing from the affected limb.

Do not use a tourniquet or any form of suction or try to suck the venom out.  Also, do not apply heat, cold, electricity, or any substances to the bite.  If possible, take a picture of the snake or scorpion from a safe distance, or try to remember the colour and shape so you can describe it. This will help with treatment.

  • Most jellyfish stings cause only minor injury and can be safely managed on site without emergency care. Qatar Poison Center can provide you with the most appropriate first aid instructions.
  • Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odourless, tasteless gas which can cause severe poisoning and even death. This can happen if charcoal, wood, a gas stove or non-electric heaters, kerosene lamps or shishas are used inside closed tents without proper ventilation. Be aware of suggestive symptoms, such as dull headache, weakness, dizziness, vomiting, nausea, confusion, blurred vision or loss of consciousness. Seek medical attention immediately.

The team at Sidra Medicine would like to wish everyone a happy and safe winter camping this season. For more details about the Children’s Emergency Department or Qatar Poison Center, visit sidra.org.