When it comes to family vacations, you can plan for the good stuff — cool campsites, great restaurants, awesome attractions — in advance. A bad turn of events, however, can strike without warning, especially when you’re traveling with kids. When you’re away from your daily routine and focused on having fun, you’re not thinking that your child may fall and break a leg, come down with a nasty virus or get lost in a museum. But accidents and mishaps can occur anytime, anywhere. Keep your family as healthy and safe as possible while on vacation by taking these simple precautions.
Smart Health Moves
- Bring medical supplies For starters, bring enough of any prescription medication to last through your entire vacation — you can’t count on being able to get refills — plus one more day’s worth, in case your flight gets cancelled. Also tote along remedies for any chronic conditions such as allergies, asthma, migraines and upset stomach. Add basic first-aid supplies like pain relievers, fever reducers, bandages and antibiotic ointment. Carry antibacterial wipes or lotion for when washing hands isn’t an option.
- Know your insurance Find out from your health insurance company how to go about getting urgent or emergency care while you’re away. Following your health care plan’s protocol for out-of-area coverage can get you the medical attention you need faster — and save you a bundle.
- Get your shots Fend off illness in advance by ensuring that you’re up to date on your vaccinations. Ask your doctor which shots you and your kids may need, or check with the travelers’ health Web site of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Find your closest embassy If you’re going abroad, learn about travel warnings and any health issues affecting the area you are going to. Visit the Department of State’s Web listing of U.S. embassies, consulates and diplomatic missions worldwide and jot down contact information of the U.S. embassy nearest to your destination. The embassy staff can help you find good medical care and notify your family in case of an emergency.
Smart Safety Moves
- Stay in contact Bring cell phones if possible — or even walkie-talkies — to find one another in crowds or outside the hotel. Since reception isn’t guaranteed and calls get missed, always designate a spot — say, the fountain in the hotel lobby or the lifeguard chair at the beach — where family members should go if they get lost.
- ID your kids Unless you’re investing in a family GPS system, arm your children with identification. Write down your child’s name, your name, your or your spouse’s cell phone number, and the phone number of your hotel on a piece of paper. (Even older kids don’t always remember where they’re staying.) Slip it into a shoe tag, luggage tag or even your child’s pocket. Always keep a current photograph of your child on hand in case you have to show it to the authorities.
- Discuss safety measures with your kids Advise them not to talk to strangers or go anywhere with a stranger — even a mom or another kid. Stress the importance of staying within sight at all times (a theme park is not a good place to run ahead of the group), and though it may be fun for the kids to explore a hotel, they shouldn’t do it alone. Your main message: Vacations are the most fun and relaxing when families stay together, and kids have an important role to play in making that happen.
Reported on ABC News by Tanya Rivero, and in an article written by Lisa Stark and Jordyn Phelps in ABC World News with Dianne Sawyer.
As recently as March 2011, the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA), in collaboration with the American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP), changed many parameters for the safe transport of infants and children when it recommended new guidelines for age, weight and seat orientation for safety seats in cars. (See the article on the Pediatric Safety website here).
On May 24, 2011, Randy Babbitt, an FAA administrator, announced at a press conference in Washington, DC, that the FAA has come up with a new set of recommendations for the airline industry, regarding the transport of children on airplanes, who weigh forty pounds-or-less. The Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) has concurred with those recommendations.
Focusing on the safety of child passengers on a plane, the FAA believes that it is much safer to transport a forty-or-under pound child if he/she is secured in a FAA-approved safety seat that is properly attached to an airplane seat of his/her own, than if that child sits on an adult’s lap during flight.
Although the FAA clearly stated its recommendation, it will not make it a requirement, at this time, because of the concern that cost issues (the purchase of an additional seat) may deter families from flying. They also maintain that It is still safer for the child to fly while seated on an adult’s lap, than it is for that child to be a safely-restrained passenger in a car.