When families travel during the holidays, they must contend with crowds, traffic and unfamiliar surroundings. But children's safety should always come first, a leading pediatricians' group says.
When taking a train or airplane, it may seem inconvenient to have to worry about car safety seats. But the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that parents make sure their children ride in an age-appropriate car seat or booster seat. Older children who no longer require car seats should always wear a seat belt, the group noted.
If it's cold outside, children should avoid wearing bulky snowsuits or coats in their car seats. Instead, opt for a thinner coat and provide kids with a blanket to cover their lap once they are buckled in.
Children aren't the only ones who need to wear seat belts, the AAP adds. Adults should set a good example and wear a safety belt, too. Drivers should also never get behind the wheel if they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the group stressed.
Once you get your family to where you're going, don't assume the homes of friends or relatives are childproofed. Be aware of potential risks (such as cleaners and medications) lurking behind unlocked cabinets and in unattended purses, the AAP said.
Laundry rooms may also have cleaning products or detergent pods left out in an area accessible to children. Stairways and hot radiators can also pose risks to children while they are staying in an unfamiliar place, the group warned.
Making a laminated list of key phone numbers, such as the police and fire departments, the pediatrician and the national Poison Help Line (1-800-222-1222) is also important. The AAP recommends keeping this list handy and providing it to babysitters or relatives who may be supervising children.
Adults often complain about the stress of holiday travel, but it's important to remember that children are also not immune to anxiety. The AAP encourages families to stick to their normal routines and sleep schedules to help minimize children's stress and maximize their fun during the holiday season.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides more safety tips to consider when traveling during the holidays.
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