Courtesy of Dare County Department of Public Health
Family trips provide an exciting learning experience; however, to ensure that they are also safe ones, parents must provide extra-careful supervision while in unfamiliar surroundings.
``Traveling away from home, especially with very young children, can present some new and challenging experiences for parents,’’ commented Anne Thomas, Director of the Dare County Department of Public Health. ``These challenges can be dealt with successfully by planning ahead for them.’’
The Health Department’s Healthy Carolinians of the Outer Banks (HCOB) Child Abuse and Neglect Task Force has put together a list of several tips for travel that will make travel safer for the children.
General Travel Tips
Parents should prepare a tag for each young child to wear in the event a child becomes separated from the family. The tag should contain the parents’ names and emergency contact information.
Children should always be accompanied to public restrooms.
Parents should be aware that the homes and other places visited may not be childproofed. Parents should keep an eye out for danger spots.
Cribs or play yards provided by hotels may not meet all current safety standards. Parents having any doubt about the safety of the crib or play yard should ask for a replacement or consider other options.
When traveling internationally, parents must remember that conditions at hotels and other lodging may not be as safe as those in the U.S. Parents should inspect for exposed wiring, pest poisons, paint chips, or inadequate stairway or balcony railings.
Travel By Car:
Parents should always use a car safety seat designed for the size and age of infants and young children. A child who has outgrown a car safety seat with a harness should ride in a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle's seat belt fits properly (usually when the child reaches about 4' 9" in height and is between 8 to 12 years of age).
All children under 13 years of age should ride in the rear seat of vehicles.
Parents set a good example by always wearing seat belts.
Parents should plan to stop driving about every two hours to give everyone a rest stop.
A child should never be left alone in a car, even for a minute. Temperatures inside a car can reach deadly levels quickly.
Travel by Air:
Children need to be aware it's against the law to make threats such as: "I have a bomb in my bag." Threats made jokingly (even by a child) can result in the entire family being delayed and could result in fines.
Similar to travel in motor vehicles, a child is best protected on an airplane when properly restrained in a car safety seat appropriate for the child’s size. Belt-positioning booster seats cannot be used on airplanes, but they can be checked as luggage for use later in rental cars and taxis.
Although the FAA allows children under age two to be held on an adult's lap, safety-conscious families should explore options to ensure that all children have their own seats. Discounted fares may be available. If it is not feasible to purchase a ticket for a small child, parents should try to select a flight that is likely to have empty seats.
``Traveling, visiting family members, and holiday bustle can all increase stress levels for the whole family, leading to irritability, tiredness and carelessness’’ explained Sandy Brookshire of the Dare County Department of Social Services and Chair of the Task Force. ``Trying to stick to your child's usual routines, including sleep and meal schedules, can help your family enjoy holiday travel and reduce stress.’’
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has more tips for the entire family whether on the road or in the air at http://www.aap.org/advocacy/releases/travelsafetytips.cfm. Parents can also check out the following websites for more information on how to help ensure the welfare of the community’s children: http://www.childwelfare.gov/preventing/communities or www.preventchildabuse.org.
Healthy Carolinians is a motivated group of multi-talented citizens interested in the good health and wellness of the Dare County community and is facilitated and organized by the Dare County Department of Public Health. For more information or to join a taskforce visit www.hcobx.org.