by Alina Bradford
It is important for parents to be even more vigilant about baby safety when on vacation. "Just because you are on vacation, do not take a vacation from your common sense and safety planning," says Samantha Wilson, former police officer, internationally recognized expert in child and family safety, and author of Safe Kids Safe Families, who recently worked on the high profile Madeline McCann Kidnaping. Many parents don't think about baby and toddler safety while on vacation, but vacation time is known by emergency rooms as "Trauma Season." Close to half of all injury-related childhood deaths occur between the months of May and August. Here are some ways to make sure your child stays safe during the fun.
Before You Leave
Safety for your child starts before you leave home. Packing smart is a key to preventing injuries.
When traveling with a baby or toddler, take the time to put together a safety travel kit that will help you childproof your accommodations. Wilson suggests that parents make this simple safety kit before leaving the house. Be sure to include:
- A proper crib sheet (if you are borrowing an approved crib)
- Duct tape to tape up wires/cords in hotel rooms
- Door knob covers. This will help you prevent the child from getting into rooms that are off limits, i.e., bathrooms.
- Electrical plugs (8 is good)
- A current picture of your child in your wallet
Many of these items can easily fit in a diaper bag; however, Wilson suggests that parents create their kit in its own bag so that parents can easily toss it into a suitcase. It is also important to take along items that will protect baby outside, such as:
- Baby or toddler approved sun block
- A hat and light colored clothing to reflect the sun
- An age appropriate float device to be used with supervision in the pool
- Size appropriate helmets for bike rides with parents
- First-aid kit
Baby-proofing Your Stay
When you arrive at your destination, remember to take some safety precautions before relaxing.
- Get down on your hands and knees and look around from the eye level of your child.
- Remove any sharp or loose objects that the child may pick up and put in their mouth.
- Remove all plastic bags from garbage cans.
- Move all furniture away from windows.
- Apply safety products from your travel kit.
- Ask for a ground floor room to prevent falls from balconies.
"Also," says Wilson, "if you are going to stay at a relative's house that does not have children, request them to put away any breakables or valuables that may either injure the child or become damaged." Ask the host to create one room that is "off limits." In this room the host can keep all potentially dangerous locked up while you are visiting. Ensure that this room is securely locked at all times.
Most parents don't give it much thought, but Dr. Michael Rabinoff, author of Ending The Tobacco Holocaust: How Big Tobacco affects Our Health, says that there is a sneaky health hazard parents should especially worry about: tobacco smoke. "The developing lungs of young children are severely affected by exposure to secondhand smoke," says Rabinoff.
According to the 2006 U.S. Surgeon General's Report, each year secondhand tobacco smoke is associated with an estimated 150,000 to 300,000 new cases of bronchitis and pneumonia in children less than eighteen months old, and increases the risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
Rabinoff notes that while a small amount of exposure on a trip may not be a problem for most babies, some sensitive babies might be strongly affected. In addition, sleeping in a room that contains strong tobacco smoke residue may affect any infant or child.
How do you avoid exposing your child to tobacco smoke?
Ask to take a look at your hotel room before reserving it, even if it is non-smoking. "I think most travelers have gotten a 'non-smoking' room at one time or another that reeked of tobacco smoke," says Rabinoff. "Ask yourself: Is there a yellow tinge to the walls? Does it smell of cigarette smoke? If so, ask the management for a room change."
When visiting other's homes, be sure to act with tact. Remember, it is their home. Ask politely if the smoker would mind smoking outside so that your child will not be effected. Also, open windows to "air" the room that the child is in to reduce the amount of smoke and residue that he inhales.
Safety is a State of Mind
Maybe the best way to keep your baby or tot safe is one simple idea: Safety is a State of Mind. A conscious decision to keep your child safe is maybe the most important safety tip of all. "The best way to keep a new baby safe during summer vacation is not just about what SPF to use, water toys or travel bassinets," says Carole Lieberman, M.D. "First and foremost, it is to make sure that parents are in the best frame of mind to take care of their baby."
Copyright © Alina Bradford. Permission to republish granted to Pregnancy.org, LLC.