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National Child Safety Expert, Alison Rhodes, “The Safety Mom,” is one of the country's leading child safety authorities, providing tips and advice to parents on a broad range of issues facing all children - newborns to teens.

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Pack Babyproofing into Your Vacation
by Alison Rhodes

The amount of time and energy it takes to pack for a vacation with kids makes you wonder sometimes if it's even worth going. I usually start making my to-do list at least two weeks in advance, followed by my to-be-packed list. In the midst of packing, what most people neglect to consider is how to make the hotel room or vacation home they will be visiting safe for their young children.

No matter where you're going, call ahead and find out the name of a local pediatrician and the location of the nearest hospital. It's also helpful to locate the nearest pharmacy. In the event of an emergency, having this information on hand can make all the difference in getting help in time for your child. Create a first-aid kit to bring with you that includes several sizes of bandages, a thermometer, an antibacterial cream such as Neosporin or Bacitracin, infant or children's Tylenol or Motrin, a tweezer to remove bee stings or ticks, and an antihistamine such as children's Benadryl.

Immediately upon arriving at your hotel or vacation home, review a fire-escape plan with the family. Show them the fire exits in the hotel and designate a place outside to meet should you get separated.

If you are staying at a hotel and will be using one of their portable cribs, make sure it meets all safety standards. It is preferable if it is a Pak-n-Play, but if it is a portable crib, be sure that the slats are no more than 2 and 3/8 inches apart and that there are no posts or decorative railings that they can hurt themselves on. Always bring a portable crib sheet from home rather than using one provided by the hotel.

Take inventory of the hotel room or home as you would your own home to check for safety hazards:

  • Place furniture in front of any floor lamp so that it cannot be accidentally tipped over.

  • Tie window blind cords high up to remove a strangulation hazard.

  • Move all chairs or tables away from windows, and ask for any furniture on a terrace to be removed.

  • While pressure-mounted gates are not usually advisable, it is a good idea to bring one along if you are staying at a duplex and need to keep toddlers off the stairs.

  • If your hotel room has a minibar that does not lock, remove all liquor and foods that might be choking hazards.

  • Keep the chain lock on the door at all times. In a new environment, children can become disoriented in the middle of the night and walk out the door, having it lock behind them.

  • In order to protect electrical outlets, tape Band-Aids across them, and tie rubber bands around the handles of any cabinet drawers with dangerous items.

  • If you are staying in a rental house or a hotel with a kitchen, be sure that there are no sharp knives within your children's reach, keep coffee makers and toasters unplugged, and remove the knobs off the cook top.

  • Store your toiletry kit, which could contain prescription medicines, hair gels, mouthwash, and other toxic substances, on the top shelf of the closet.

When a child gets lost on vacation, it is very difficult for them to remember the name of the hotel or address of the vacation home where they are staying. Create ID tags that can be pinned on the inside of their clothing. This should only list their first name, a cell phone number, and/or the phone number of the hotel/home where they are staying. Be sure to carry a recent photo of your child with you at all times.

Vacations can be a special time for families. By keeping these safety tips at hand, you can enjoy the time with a little more peace of mind.

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Featured Sites:

Cord Blood Registry
March of Dimes
Susan G. Komen

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