The holiday season is in full swing and many families will be traveling to visit relatives. If your relatives do not have young children, their homes may not be child-proofed. In all the hustle and bustle of this busy time of year, distractions can easily take a parent’s attention off of young children and could place your child in danger, if safety precautions are not already in place.
Here are some tips for making your holiday visits safer for your child:
Prepare in advance
When planning your visit, ask your relatives to take some child-proofing measures to prepare for your child’s visit. Provide them with some easy ways they can child-proof, but don’t expect them to do a full, thorough childproofing job or spend money on childproofing gadgets. Easy ways to childproof include putting fragile or breakable items high out of reach, and locking away dangerous items, such as guns, lighters, and cigarettes. Cabinets with knobs can be temporarily “locked” with rubber bands wrapped around the knobs to hold them closed. Uncovered wastebaskets can be covered or put in an area inaccessible to your child. Ask your relatives what they are willing and able to do and offer to bring portable childproofing items with you, if necessary.
Pools and hot tubs
Whether a pool or hot tub is full of water or covered for winter, it is a potential danger. If your relative has either, you need to make sure your child cannot access the pool area or hot tub. Check to see what safety measures are already in place (fence, locked gate, alarm, etc) and always keep an eye on your child while outside.
If your relative has pets, it is important to never allow your child to be alone with them. Young children should never be left alone with any animal, whether the animal is familiar with the child or not. Even the most docile, sweet-natured pet can cause serious injury if it feels threatened or protective of its territory. A young child may innocently pull on fur or a tail, or try to eat a pet’s food and be attacked for it. Make sure any interaction with your relative’s pets and your child is closely supervised at all times.
Holiday parties often include alcoholic beverages. If children are around, it is imperative to keep all alcohol out of their reach. It takes very little alcohol to poison a small child. Ask relatives and friends to keep an eye on their own drink and keep it away from your child.
You most likely have all medications out of your child’s reach at your own home, but your relatives without kids may be used to leaving frequently used medications on a counter or on a low shelf. Ask them to temporarily put all medications up high, out of sight and reach of your child. A common place for kids to find medications is in the purse of a relative. Kids may think they are finding mints or candy. Make sure purses are kept out of reach, especially if they contain medicine or any other dangerous item, such as a lighter.
Some household plants can cause stomach upset if ingested, and some are poisonous. If your relative has plants, ask if they can be temporarily put out of reach of your child.
Above all else, the best childproofing tip is to keep a close eye on your child. No amount of childproofing can fully replace adequate adult supervision. This is especially true in an unfamiliar, non-childproofed environment. Do not assume that because there may be several adults around that your child is safe. Too often, when there are several people gathered for a party or visit, each person assumes another is watching the kids when in reality no one may be paying close enough attention to them.
Taking preventative safety measures in advance of and during your trip can make it safer for your child and more enjoyable for everyone. If your relatives work with you to make their home a safe environment for your child, be sure to thank them for their help!