Very Close Call
The importance of baby-proofing your campsite
you have children, you always want them to be safe
at home, so you make sure you put poisons out of
reach, you put gates on stairs, and you put covers
on electrical outlets. There is a lot to be said
about ensuring your home is baby proof, but making
sure your campsite is baby proof is also a very
In August of 2008 my
husband Michael and I went on a trip to Algonquin
Provincial Park with friends of ours, Laurie and
Bryan, their seven year old son, Tobias, and our
three children, Owen, Lily and Ethan, ages six,
five and one. We were staying on a gorgeous site
at Little Trout Lake it was picture perfect.
looked around to find a safe place to put our youngest,
Ethan, then put his baby harness on him and tied
him to a tree stump. He had about eight feet of
rope to allow him to explore. When my husband and
I were searching out a place to put him we made
sure he could not reach the fire pit, and that the
heat from the fire pit would not be too hot for
him and we made sure there were not a lot of little
sticks and twigs he could choke on. He was perfectly
safe or so we thought. We did not consider one thing.
It was hiding under a bush where we didn't think
Ethan could reach. We didn't even think about it
until it was too late, and although we had commented
on how pretty the little mushrooms were we didn't
ever imagine in our wildest dreams our son would
pluck one and have a taste.
I noticed first that
Ethan had a fist full of mushroom and as I was taking
it from his hand and telling him "no,"
my oldest, Owen, exclaimed quite loudly "Mom,
he's eating some!" We had told the older three
children that the mushrooms aren't for eating or
touching because they could be poisonous, but, we
didn't think about the baby being able to bother
realizing Ethan had swallowed a piece of mushroom
I turned to my friends and asked them "what
do I do?" I had no idea. Their faces went white
and they told me to make him vomit. I called to
Michael and he came running. We couldn't get the
baby to bring anything up, we both tried. Then it
occurred to Bryan that perhaps Ethan had an empty
stomach, as when it happened we were preparing breakfast.
Thankfully, Michael had thought to pack a few tetra
boxes of soymilk. They don't need to be refrigerated,
so they are great for an interior canoe trip. We
quickly filled the baby's bottle with milk and he
drank it. Once he was finished his bottle Michael
took him and made him vomit. It was a nasty business,
but a necessary one. After he threw up Michael handed
the baby to me and searched the vomit. He found
a piece of mushroom, about the size of a dime, a
The waiting began, and
let me tell you, the next few hours were some of
the worst of my life. We were all constantly watching
for any slight change in Ethan. Is his temperature
okay? How is his complexion? Is his personality
normal? Is his breathing okay? I was scared out
of my mind.
We discussed a plan
of action on how to get Ethan out of the park as
quickly as possible and signal for help should things
have gone horribly wrong. Actually what happened
was Laurie asked if we should start getting our
gear packed up to get out in a hurry and Bryan flatly
said "Laurie, you're not coming." Michael
and Bryan decided if we needed to get Ethan medical
attention they would paddle him out and leave Laurie
and I at the campsite with the other three children,
and Laurie and I were to make a fire and try to
signal for help, because the guys could get him
out a lot faster without us.
I was on the verge of
panic and told Michael I wanted to take the baby
out now. I was ready to pack up and go home, never
to enter the wilderness again.
A few hours passed and
I started to relax, then 12 hours, then 24 and Ethan
was still okay. He was acting 100% normal. At that
point, we were all fairly certain he was going to
While doing research
for this article I discovered that even if a person
appears to be okay the poisoning for some mushrooms
can take several days to take effect. I have also
learned there are no antidotes for mushroom poisoning.
It is important to teach your children that eating
or even touching mushrooms in the wild, including
mushrooms found in your own backyard, is very dangerous.
Consider all types of wild mushrooms to be a serious
hazard to you and your children, and unless you
are a mushroom expert (a mycologist), don't eat
ever pick them to eat them.
One thing to remember
about mushrooms is they can pop up at anytime so
you need to check your campsite at least once a
day to make sure nothing new has come up where your
children will be playing.
He gave us a terrible
fright and taught us a lesson. We would never put
one of our precious children in harm's way on purpose.
While sharing this story may be embarrassing, if
I can help keep another child safe then that is
more important. We have been camping since the incident
with the mushroom, but when I step onto a campsite
or I'm walking on a portage I look at the wildlife,
flora and fauna, with new eyes.
wrote this article to share my experience with you,
but I am in no way suggesting if your child were
to ingest a wild mushroom that you take the same
approach as we did. I have learned since then that
waiting for symptoms to appear is not the best tactic.
Prevention is the best way to keep your child safe,
and I hope no one else is ever subjected to an occurrence
Please take a moment
to read the following articles:
Zone: Facts About Poisonous Mushrooms
Kids: Warning Against Consuming Wild Mushrooms
Canada: Wild Mushrooms & Canada's Poison Control
by Samantha Rogers
Photos courtesy of Samantha Rogers