Published on November 29, 2017

illustration of family traveling for the holidays

Holiday Travel – How to Keep Those Little Ones Safe

It’s that most wonderful time of the year!

If you’re like many Americans, you are beginning to make travel plans for the holidays. Whether you are going over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house, or visiting aunts, uncles and cousins, keep safety at the forefront. Holidays bring changes in routines and accommodations that can pose hazards to little ones.

Take the poison control center's number with you. Stick it in your purse or wallet. No matter where you are, this number will connect you with the nearest poison control center, and be aware of the fact that they may receive almost three times as many calls during the holidays.

If you will be staying with friends or relatives who do not have young children, their home may not be child-safety checked. It is fairly common for people, especially older people, to leave medications and vitamins on the kitchen or bathroom counter. 

Do a quick check and make sure all medications are out of children’s reach. Don’t rely on “child proof” containers; no container is totally child-proof. Remember that elderly people often request their medications in containers that are not child-resistant.

Be sure adults do not leave purses where kids can get into them; they often contain pain relievers or other medications. Take along some cabinet latches and outlet covers. If you can’t latch cabinets, you may need to move cleaning products and other poisons.

Look for decorations that might pose a hazard, such as bubble lights, lamps with lamp oil and seasonal air fresheners. Check out the holiday plants. Mistletoe, especially the berries, Jerusalem cherry, Christmas rose, and holly can be toxic. Avoid using candles when young children are present.

If adults will be consuming alcohol, be vigilant. Children have been known to drink the leftover alcohol in glasses left out after a party. Be sure to do a quick clean up. When holiday guests are coming and going, keep a close eye on children. It only takes seconds for a child to run out the door and run behind a car that is backing up. 

The number of home fires increases during the holidays. You may want to check to be sure the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working in your relatives’ home. Review the fire evacuation plan.

 If you will be staying in a hotel, here are some safety tips:

  • Do a quick safety check of the hotel room
  • Be sure that televisions and dressers are anchored to avoid tip-over accidents
  • Bring along some outlet covers and a night light
  • Be sure your hotel room door is secure, so a child wandering in the night cannot open it
  • Ask the hotel if their cribs are certified as safe or consider bringing a pack and play
  • Check the hotel windows to be sure a child can’t open them
  • Most hotel pools do not have lifeguards. Have each adult from your family take a shift as the primary “water watcher.”
  • That person should not be involved in any other activity except watching the children during their “shift." Be sure a “water watcher” is on duty anytime children are in the water. Don’t assume everyone is watching —this is how many drownings occur.

Two items that are currently at the top of the list for safety concerns are button batteries and magnets. Button batteries, when swallowed, can stick to the esophagus and react with saliva to cause serious life-threatening burns. These batteries are everywhere — in your key fob, bathroom scale, remote control.

Be aware of holiday items that may contain these batteries — flameless candles, battery-operated light strings, musical greeting cards, children’s books and toys.

Powerful neodymium magnets can be found in adult desk toys and even are used as refrigerator magnets. When swallowed, they can attract each other in the stomach or intestines, pinching off tissue and causing life threatening infections.

When you pack up the kids, the dog and the gifts for your holiday travel, always keep safety in mind. Here’s to an exciting, memorable, and SAFE holiday season!

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