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Pediatric Health

Family Vacation? Remember, Safety Never Needs a Break!

July 01, 2008
For many families, summertime means family vacations. Finding hotels to stay in, booking flights and planning activities tend to get the most attention. It's important to remember, however, to plan for emergencies. Safety never takes a vacation.

Before leaving on a trip, parents should give a relative or friend a copy of all travel itineraries, make sure they have packed enough family medications for the entire trip and have a recent photo of each child available in case of emergencies. Parents should also make a safety checklist for traveling on the road, by airplane, staying in hotels and for fun activities.

Traveling by car or plane?

Depending on your family's plans for vacation, you need a checklist for traveling on the road or by airplane.

• Make sure your child is in an appropriate child passenger restraint for his height, weight and age even, when traveling by a plane or in a rental car.

• Have one parent assigned to driving and one assigned to watching children in the back seat.

• Carry a small emergency kit.

• Don't ever leave children unattended.

• Have child identification cards.

Staying in a hotel?

Have a hotel safety checklist since the hotel will be your home for the whole trip.

• Before you arrive, notify the hotel of any health care needs or disabilities your group may have.

• Check fire exits and form an escape plan with your family in case of an emergency. Choose a meeting place near your hotel and make sure your children know where it is and how to get there.

• Never allow children to wander around the hotel alone.

• Check window coverings for loose or dangling cords.

• Make sure children cannot reach any electrical appliances, including coffee pots, televisions or hair styling appliances.

Safety in crowds

For crowded areas such as theme parks, your checklist may include the following:

• Have children wear physical identification, including the parents' name and phone number.

• Have a plan in case parents are separated from the children.

• Wear matching T-shirts to help identify your group.

• Teach your children to drop to the ground and scream loudly if someone tries to take them.

The checklists are just starting points. Parents should work with family members to create their own safety checklists.

For more information, visit www.preventinjury.org, www.aap.org/advocacy/releases/travelsafetytips.cfm, or go to www.usa.safekids.org and type in "travel." Call the Riley Safety Store at 1-888-365-2022 for information about child identification and other safety products.

Megan Fager is an intern for Community Education and Child Advocacy at Riley and a senior studying health administration at Indiana University, Bloomington.

Cara Fast, MSW, is manager of the Safe Children Programs for Community Education and Child Advocacy at Riley and Indiana University School of Medicine.

Emily McQuade, MPA, MA, is manager of the Healthy Children Programs for Community Education and Child Advocacy at Riley and Indiana University School of Medicine.

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