Southern destinations aren't just for college students blowing off a little steam this time of year.
Spring Break also is a blast for families trying to get a little time together at the beach or visiting cartoon characters. Spring vacations make memories that parents and their kids will cherish for a lifetime.
Unfortunately, accidents or illness can curtail the fun. It's a downer for everyone when you have to make a trip to the local Emergency Room.
To make certain your Spring Break vacation is a safe one, it's good to take a few precautions. Here are a few tips when traveling with small children:
- Everyone should have a seat. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), children under the age of 2 or weighing less than 40 pounds should be fastened in an FAA approved car seat on the plane. Check your car seat manufacturer label to see if it is recommended for air travel.
- Stay belted. Anyone who flies regularly has a "sudden turbulence" story. Airliners hit these air pockets so quickly, there is little time to react. Children should be strapped in at all times, unless you are taking them to the restroom.
- Seat kids away from the aisles. When flight attendants are rolling their carts to serve drinks or food to passengers, they might not be able to see little feet or hands sticking out. Secure your child in the middle or window seat.
When Staying at a Hotel
- Take stock of room dangers. When you first check in, review everything in the room to see if there is something that could hurt a little one - such as exposed electrical cords, sharp objects.
- Move that room coffee maker and glass cups out of reach. Many hotels offer a DIY instant coffee service. Make certain small children cannot reach your piping hot morning Cup of Joe and pull it down on them.
- Talk about what to do if someone knocks on the door. Instruct your child to get an adult if someone knocks on the door. Tell your child to ignore the knocking if you are in the bathroom, and no other adult is available to answer the door.
When Visiting the Beach
- Slop on the sunscreen. Children are especially vulnerable to sunburn, especially if they have been indoors much of the cold Midwestern winter. Use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 on all children age 6 months and up. Don't rely on sunscreen alone. Children should wear sunglasses and hats - and avoid lots of direct sunlight if possible. Another way to avoid skin damage is to avoid sun exposure during the middle part of the day.
- Always swim with someone else - especially in the ocean. Rip currents can take large, strong adults out to sea. Coast Guard approved life vests are recommended for small children, even when treading water with adults.
- Eat smart. Beach temperatures can get hot quickly - and sandwiches with meat and mayonnaise can turn bad quickly, even if you keep it in a cooler. You might consider peanut butter and dried fruits as an alternative.
When Visiting Attractions
- Stay together. Make certain you talk to young children about the importance of staying with Mom and Dad before entering theme parks, museums, etc. Have them hold your hand when in crowds or rent a stroller if necessary.
- Have them memorize your cell number. Teach your young children to recite their name, address and your mobile cell number to a police officer. Write contact information such as your name, mobile telephone number and your hotel and room number on a card - and have your child carry it in a pocket. Rehearse what to do in case you get separated.
- Take breaks, drink fluids. It's exciting to visit a theme park. (And parents want to get their money's worth.) Be careful about overdoing it. Because you walk a lot and are subject to warmer temperatures, you and your children can get quickly dehydrated. Rest in a cool building about once every hour and drinks lots of water (not soda).
Don't get overly obsessed about your safety during family trips. Use common sense, and have your parent radar on alert for potential dangers.
Most of all, relax and enjoy your trip!