On the Airplane
A vacation should be fun for the whole family, and keeping your child safe is an essential element of a good trip. Check out these travel safety tips for your next getaway:
- All children need their own seats on airplanes. And children under the age of 2 or weighing less than 40 pounds should be securely fastened in child restraint seats on planes, according to new recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
- If you plan to use a car seat on the plane, make sure that it's FAA approved. The label on the restraint should read: "This restraint is certified for use in motor vehicles and aircraft." Check the seat size, too. A car seat wider than 16 inches can't fit properly in a coach seat.
- Ask about child-size emergency equipment. Call the airlines to make sure your particular aircraft has emergency equipment, such as life preservers, specifically designed for small children.
- Keep your child belted at all times. Turbulence can happen without warning, so keep your child belted in as much as possible. If your child wants to get up and move around, make sure the seat-belt sign is off before you unbuckle him.
- Don't seat your child on the aisle. Small children enjoy reaching out and exploring. If they are on the aisle, they could get hurt by a person or serving cart going down the aisle.
- Accompany your child to the lavatory. The bathroom may have sharp or hard objects that can injure a child. The lavatory door can trap a child's finger or hand as it opens and closes.
At the Hotel
- Look around your room. Scan the room for anything dangerous, such as sharp objects on the floor or a protruding piece of metal. Check the windows and shower doors to make sure they're securely in place. Also make sure the lights and locks work properly, and that there are no exposed electrical cords.
- If you are traveling with a baby, ask about the hotel's crib safety. Find out if your hotel's cribs meet safety requirements set by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Make sure that none of the crib's slats are loose, missing, or cracked, and take off any pillow, comforter, or soft bedding that sits in the crib.
- Childproof your room. Make sure to bring along outlet covers, doorknob covers, toilet locks, and other childproof gear that you use in your home. Move glasses, ashtrays, matches, coffeemakers, and travel shampoos out of your child's reach.
- Ask lots of questions about child care, if you plan to use it. Find out who will be watching your child, where they will be staying, and what activities are offered for children. Check out where your child may be eating or playing and make sure everything appears clean and well maintained.
- Scour the playground for potential dangers. Search for sharp edges, protrusions, or openings that could trap a child's head or body. Look for missing or broken guardrails, warped or rusted components, and loose nuts or bolts.
- Make sure that play areas are age-appropriate for your child. Children can be injured when playing on equipment that is not suitable for their age or size.
- Don't let your child answer the door to your room. Instruct her to get an adult if someone knocks on the door, and to ignore the knocking if no adult is available.
- Bring your child's pediatrician a complete travel itinerary. Your itinerary should include where you'll be and your planned activities so your doctor can assess which diseases your child may be at risk of contracting and whether additional immunizations are appropriate.
- Call your health insurance company. Find out what coverage your policy provides in other countries should you have a medical problem.
- Get an up-to-date record of your child's immunizations. Immunizations not only serve to prevent disease. Some countries have immunization entry requirements to protect their own citizens from imported diseases.
- Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Travel Information site. Get helpful and up-to-date information on any warnings they might have about visiting your destination.
Sources: American Academy of Pediatrics; Caring for Your Baby: Birth to Age 5, (Bantam, 1999); AirSafe.com; Travelocity.com; Safer Child, Inc.; U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons; Safe Stay U.S.A.