Tips for Safe Travel
IN THE PLANE:
- Though not required, everyone from the American Academy of Pediatrics to the Federal Aviation Administration recommends the use of safety seats for young children. Sure, kids younger than two years-old can fly for free when seated in their parents’ laps but babies and toddlers are far safer, and more comfortable, in turbulent skies restrained in their safety seats. Check out the FAA-approved CARES child aviation safety restraint.
- In order to decrease ear pain during descent, pediatricians suggest your infant nurse or suck on a bottle. Older children can chew gum, drink water or juice through a straw, or fill a glass of water and blow bubbles through a straw (4 years of age or older).
- Wash hands frequently, and bring hand-sanitizing gel to prevent illnesses during travel.
IN THE SUN: Under new Food and Drug Administration rules, sunscreens must prove they filter out both ultraviolet B rays and ultraviolet A rays to claim they protect against skin cancer. By next summer products that don’t protect against both, or the protection factor is below 15, must be labeled: “This product has been shown only to help prevent sunburn, not skin cancer or early skin aging.”
What you need: Sunscreen that is considered ‘broad spectrum’ and that has a sun protection factor, or SPF, of 15 and above.” Broad spectrum is FDA’s new way to describe a sunscreen that blocks both types of damaging rays. Here are a few best practices even when using the best sunscreen on the market:
- Reapply every two hours, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, even on cloudy days and especially after the kids have been in the water. The FDA now says marketing claims like “waterproof” and “sweat proof” are “are exaggerations of performance.”
- Keep infants out of the sun as much as possible. Dress infants in lightweight long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and brimmed hats that shade the neck to prevent sunburn. However when adequate clothing and shade are not available, parents can apply a minimal amount of sunscreen with at least 15 SPF (sun protection factor) to small areas, such as the infant’s face and the back of the hands, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends. If an infant gets sunburn, apply cold compresses to the affected area.
- Make sure the kids drink plenty of water. (Check the Academy’s website www.aap.org for more sun and safety tips.)
AT THE POOL AND BEACH:
- The vast majority of drownings occur when children are being supervised. Designate an adult to be a “water watcher.” Take turns, even if there’s a lifeguard on duty. Adults should be “touching distance” to preschoolers and toddlers around the water. Don’t rely on water wings or other inflatable toys either, pediatricians warn. They may give your child a false sense of security.
- Insist older kids swim with a buddy. Remind them to stay away from pool and hot tub drains where they can get sucked under water.
- If visiting friends or relatives with a pool, make sure young children are carefully supervised at all times and that pool gates are locked.
Use insect repellents containing DEET to prevent insect related diseases such as Lyme Disease which can be transmitted by ticks or West Nile virus which, among others, is transmitted by mosquitoes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and the American Academy of Pediatrics:
- For children over two months-old, use a repellant that contains 10- 30 percent DEET. DEET should not be used on children under 2 months of age.
- Ten percent DEET provides protection for about 2 hours – 30% for about 5 hours – choose the lowest concentration that will provide required length of coverage.
- Children should wash off repellents when back indoors.
- As an alternative to DEET, Picaridin has become available in the U.S. in concentrations of 5-10 percent.
ON A BOAT:
Insist that kids wear approved life jackets. If they gripe, tell them to check out this fun website from the National Safe Boating Council.
Pack the bike helmets or rent them wherever you’re going. The whole family should wear their helmets whenever they’re on wheels — rollerblading, skateboarding or on a scooter. Many accidents happen in driveways, on sidewalks, and on bike paths, not just on streets. Helmets can reduce the severity of injuries up to 85 percent. When purchasing a helmet, look for a label or sticker that says the helmet meets the CPSC safety standard.
- Wrist guards and other protective gear are also important.
AROUND THE CITY:
- Babies and toddlers are a lot safer in a bus, trolley or subway than in the back of a taxi without a safety seat. Another alternative? Consider a combination stroller-safety seat like the Sit N Stroll for use from birth to age four and available from websites such as www.therightstart.com
IN THE HOTEL:
- If you’ve got toddlers, make sure the room is properly child proofed.
- Play the what-if game with older kids, showing them the quickest way to leave in case of an emergency. Make sure you know too!
IN THE SUMMER:
More kids get hurt during the summer, some pediatricians say ruefully, than any other time of the year. The situation is only exacerbated when vacationing families let their guard down. You don’t want to be among the millions—yes millions—of parents sitting in an emergency room while you are on vacation.
- Never leave young kids in or around the car alone, even for a second. The temperature inside a parked car in summer rises dangerously fast, and a young child’s core temperature can rise three to five times faster than the average adult.
- Don’t start the car until everyone is securely seat-belted in — and that includes you. All kids under 13 should sit in the back — it’s typically the safest place in a crash. And since 85 per cent of all parents don’t install car seats properly, seek out a certified child safety seat technician to show you how.
- Use a rear-facing seat until your child has reached two, according to The American Academy of Pediatrics. The AAP recently revised its safety recommendations this past spring because research has shown a rear-facing child safety seat does a better job of supporting the head, neck and spine of infants and toddlers in a crash. A 2007 study published in the journal Injury Prevention showed that children under age two are 75 percent less likely to die or be severely injured in a crash if they are riding rear-facing.
- Whatever you do, don’t graduate the kids from a safety seat to an adult seatbelt too early. Booster seats reduce the risk of injury by 59 percent compared to the use of seat belts alone, the Safe Kids USA reports. Another plus? The kids can see out of the window. The American Academy of Pediatrics says most children need a booster seat until they have reached 4 feet 9 inches tall and are between 8 and 12 years old.
- Be sure to check state laws. Some states now require older children be restrained in a booster seat.
- Bring your own safety seat rather than renting one. You won’t know its history or if it was damaged in a crash.