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Travel Safety and Kids

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 27 Dec 2012 | comments*Discuss
Kids' Travel Safety Travel Safety Car

Anyone who's ever travelled with kids can tell you it's something that's both a joy and a potential nightmare. Yes, you need eyes in the back of your head all the time. But if you keep a few basic ideas in mind, a stressful time will be a joyful adventure.

Before you Leave

If you're going abroad, make sure all your passports are current - if your child has a 'baby passport' then remember that this need renewing before your child is 5 years old.

Check that you have had any immunizations you might need, that you have an adequate supply of all family medications, and make a copy of the prescriptions to take with you. If you're travelling alone with children, make sure you have notarised permission from the other parent before you travel.

Put together a first aid kit including Calpol (Paracetamol for pain) or Calprofen (Ibuprofen for pain and fever/swelling) or their equivalents as well as the usual items like plasters along with lots of sun block, insect repellent and medicated ointment.

If your child is young then you may want to take some childproofing equipment - a travel safety gate, some clips to keep draws and cupboards closed. If you're constantly worried about your child falling down the stairs or getting into a cutlery draw then you're not that likely to have a truly relaxing holiday!

Have a talk with your kids to remind them about basic safety rules, such as not going off with strangers, staying close to you - all the things they know at home. Pack a recent photo of your children and keep it safe in case of emergencies. Will your holiday include bike riding? Then make sure you have your child's bike helmet. Additionally, consider packing lot of bright coloured clothes for them; it's easier to spot. For very young children, a harness is an excellent safety idea.

Do one final check before you lock the front door. With children who wear spectacles, ensure they've got their glasses, for example. If you have a baby, take along a few extra dummies (if the baby uses one) as you may find it hard to get one that your baby is comfortable with.

Finally, consider leaving a copy of your itinerary, including contact numbers, with the friend or family and check in regularly.

On the Road

In the car, check that the kids are in their appropriate seats, be they for infants or booster seats, and well strapped in, before you turn on the ignition. There are rules specific to individual countries to be remembered when driving abroad. For example, in France and Germany a child under the age of 10 may not travel in the front seat of a car - check the specific details for the country you are visiting before you set off.

It might be common sense but don't leave your children, or pets for that matter, alone in the car. Not only is that asking for trouble but in summer temperatures can soar inside a vehicle.

Designate one parent to watch the children while the other deals with travel. It goes without saying, but keep your children close at all times. That's especially vital in busy places like airports, train stations and city centres. Children can vanish in seconds in a crowd. On trains, don't let children wander.

Don't let your children cross the road alone. If they're under nine, they should hold the hand of a parent or older sibling. If you're abroad, with traffic going the other way, supervise all road crossings at all times.

Just because you're on holiday, that's no excuse to be lax on hygiene; in fact, you should put a greater emphasis on it, insisting everyone washes their hands before every meal as well as after each trip to the bathroom. Accompany your children to the bathroom, especially the younger ones.

At The Beach

Kids love playing in the sand, and it's a wonderful place. But before you let them start, make sure they're well covered in sun block with a high SPF (one that doesn't dissolve in water), with hats for the younger ones. Additionally, try a 'sun suit' which is light, keeps out UV rays and dries out quickly when they get out of the water. Try and get them to keep sandals on to avoid broken glass or other dangers.

Carry bottled water with you, and be certain everyone drinks plenty to avoid dehydration. Baby wipes are always handy, too, for sticking fingers.

Always be aware of where your children are on the beach. The urge to explore can be strong, and it's easy for them not only to get lost, but also to find themselves cut off somewhere by the tide.

When they're in the sea, one parent should accompany them, even if they can swim. Undertows and riptides can be sudden, tricky and deadly. Never be more than one pace away from non-swimmers, and be sure they wear a floatation device of some kind.

In the Hotel

Once you've unpacked, check the fire exits and form an escape plan with your family in case of emergency. In the event something does happen, try to stop children panicking, and lead them out calmly. Don't use the lift if the alarm is ringing, and don't pause to gather up your belongings.

Try to see that your children eat balanced, healthy meals. Indulge them a bit, by all means - they're on holiday, after all - but no sugar excesses. Fresh air and exercise will leave them hungrier, so be prepared to eat a little earlier, and see they have enough sleep; it will avoid mid-afternoon crankiness.

That might seem like a lot, but it's not really. Most of it's common sense, and if you follow the advice, your holiday will be a lot more relaxed, and a joy for the whole family

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