By: Christy Hubbard, Safe Kids Columbus
Nothing says Labor Day like a vacation. Whether you are driving to the beach, flying to Grandma’s house, or touring nearby sites, there are certain things to keep in mind in creating a safe experience for your youngest travelers. It’s about taking some simple steps in preparing for your trip so you can relax and enjoy your final destination.
Preparing for Travel
- Before leaving home, discuss travel rules and emergency contact information with older children.
- If your travels include an extended stay at the home of a friend or relative, discuss the importance of creating a safe environment for your children with your host. Provide advice about installing safety devices in the home, such as outlet covers, safety gates, portable monitors, cabinet locks and a self-closing and self-latching gate around home swimming pools to prevent injuries during your stay.
- Memorize the poison control hotline number: 800-222-1222. This toll-free number will connect you from anywhere in the United States to the local poison control center.
In a Car
- Never leave a child alone in the car, even if it’s just to run a quick errand, and always lock unattended vehicles.
- Plan to travel with your child’s car safety seat. You will need it to and from the airport and when you arrive at your destination. Do not rent a car safety seat as you will have little or no knowledge of its past crash history.
- Before hitting the road, secure all loose items in the car that may become projectiles during a sudden stop or crash.
- Curious kids love to touch anything they can get their hands on. Engage child safety locks while the vehicle is in motion.
- Driving and childcare cannot occur at the same time. Should your baby need attention pull over and stop the car first, then care for your baby.
On a Plane
- Holding a child on an adult’s lap is not the safest option. Whenever possible, buy a child his or her own seat to ensure an approved car seat can be used. Most airlines offer a discount for children under the age of 2.
- Infants and toddlers on airplanes are safest in a car seat with a harness. A child who rides in a car seat on the ground should ride in that car seat on a plane. Make sure your child’s car seat is labeled ‘certified for use in motor vehicles and aircraft.’ However, when purchasing the ticket, keep in mind that car seats are not allowed in exit rows and must be installed at a window seat.
- Children who have outgrown car seats should sit directly on the airplane seat and, like all passengers, keep the lap belt buckled across their thighs or hips. Booster seats are not allowed on airplanes, because they require shoulder belts and airplane seats have only lap belts.
At a Hotel
- The safest place for your baby to sleep is in a safety-approved crib with a firm mattress and a well-fitting sheet. Cradles and bassinets may be used, but choose those that are certified by the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) for safety. Put your baby to sleep on his/her back, facing up.
- Bring your own folding playpen, instead of relying on borrowed cribs. If you must use a hotel’s crib, inspect it carefully for broken or missing parts and look up the model on www.Recalls.gov to make sure it is not subject to any safety notices.
- Do not place pillows, soft bedding, toys or anything in your baby’s crib.
- Babies should never share a bed with a sibling or parent(s) or sleep on couches, chairs, regular beds or any other soft surfaces.