Ah Summertime!! It’s time for family trips to beaches, resorts and amusement parks! It’s the most (well, second most!) wonderful time of the year for the family. But don’t let the summertime lazies strike when you and your loved ones are away on vacation. Here are some commonsense suggestions for making your summer adventures safe AND fun!
- Before you make reservations or head out into the great unknown, RESEARCH! Make sure your destination is family friendly. Check out location websites, family and parenting sites to see what others have to say before you commit.
- Practice safety before you go. Make a plan for some of the more common safety scenarios and explain them to your children in age appropriate language. Some instances you may want to go over are what to do if a child gets lost, if a parent becomes ill or if the family gets separated.
- Reinforce that children should not go anywhere with strangers and that it is OK for them to shout NO! loudly if they feel threatened.
- Prepare for Medical Emergencies: always have at least a small first aid kit with you when you travel to take care of small cuts and abrasions from falls or playtime mishaps. Be sure to have any prescription medications needed in sufficient quantities plus extra for the time you’ll be away. Be sure to have sufficient quantities of any over the counter medications as well. Be sure each family member knows how to get medical help in an emergency, and if in a foreign=n country, what the equivalent of 911 is at that location.
- Know and explain TSA regulations and rules. Be sure your kids know that they will have to be scanned before getting on a plane, and that their toys and belongings will also have to be scanned, but will be returned to them. And teach them the words never to say in an airport. Nothing could be worse than to have your vacation delayed (or ended) in an airport because your child said “bomb” at the security checkpoint.
- Put ID tags on young children, and adults and older children should always carry ID. Shoe tags, Road ID or temporary tattoos with your contact information can be utilized in case you get separated from your young child. You can also write your information on a small card or the hotel/resort’s business card and place it in your child’s pocket before you go out for the day. Experts do not recommend putting your child’s name on clothing or bags where it can be easily seen as strangers may use your child’s name in an attempt to gain their trust.
- Don’t use public WiFi for sensitive information or transactions such a s banking. They are easy to hack, putting your sensitive information at risk. Be sure to use secures sites, or use your smartphone or tablet to create a secure hotspot.
- Limit the use of social media to describe your travel plans. It is tempting to post travel pictures while you’re away, but if your privacy settings are not strictly set, you will be broadcasting that your house will be unattended when you’re gone making it an easy target for thieves. Resist the urge to post while you’re away, and save the jealousy inducing pictures until after you’ve come home. Be sure your children understand this as well.
- Experts agree that the safest hotel rooms are on the 3rd through 6th floors. These floors are high enough to be difficult to break into, but low enough that most fire department ladder trucks will reach them. And keep your hotel room secure by using all the locks, even when you are in the rooms. Children should also know never to open the door for anyone---only and adult should. If your room faces a pool or walkway or if you have a terrace, be sure the sliding doors locks securely. Do not leave valuables lying about in plain sight when you leave. If your room has a safe, use it (but test it empty first so you know it will lock and unlock when you need it to). If not, check with the front desk about leaving valuables with hotel management.
- Dress your kids in bright clothes---they will be easier to see and locate in crowds. Take photos of your children each day BEFORE you go out. In case a child gets lost or separated, you won’t have to rely on memory to give the authorities a clear description of your child.
- Don’t bend the normal behavior and privilege rules to the breaking point. If they are not old enough to go places alone at home, they’re not old enough to do so on vacation---in a strange an new environment as well. The same should apply for leaving young children alone, unsupervised in a hotel room. Don’t do it.
These suggestions are simple way to insure that the summer is what it should be: fun and time for making family memories. Now get out there and enjoy the summer!! And don’t forget the sunblock!