Wild flowers, groves of trees and calm lakes provide a great break from the hustle and bustle of the average work week. But even the great outdoors requires a little common sense to make sure people get back safely from getting away from it all.

Vermilion County offers a number of areas to enjoy nature, ranging from Kickapoo State Park to Vermilion County Conservation District’s Kennekuk County Park and Forest Glen Preserve.

John Hott, superintendent of Kickapoo, said it’s important for children — and parents — to realize the areas are not a city park.

“Bugs can bite you; little animals can bite you,” he said. “It’s their home, not yours.”

Hott said it’s best for parents to remind children of that and let them know not to pick up and grab anything they see.

“Remember, take only memories, leave only footprints,” the Illinois Department of Natural Resources suggests for the park-goers.

One little creature that tends to grab people rather than being picked up itself is the tick. The insect, known for carrying Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, should be checked for by parents to make sure the bug has not latched onto themselves or their children.

With just more than 2,800 acres of outdoor area, Kickapoo State Park provides a multitude of different activities. Among the many is hiking the trails.

Hott said it’s not a usual occurrence, but usually once a summer a child will go out onto the trails and can’t find his or her way back.

His suggestion: Stay on the trail.

“If they’re on the trail, just stay on the trail,” he said. “Eventually they all lead back to where you start, to civilization.

“Don’t take off through the woods to find a short cut.”

Hikers who are on the trail and not sure if they’re going the correct direction also can simply stay where they’re at, allowing someone to find them much easier.

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