UH News

Planes, Trains, Automobiles And Safety Gear

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

No Matter What Mode of Transportation Consider Safety Before Traveling This Summer

Cleveland, OH— To many families, summer means one thing – vacation! Since Memorial Day kicks off the summer travel season, University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital and Safe Kids Greater Cleveland want to remind families that having fun while vacationing is important but also remembering to plan ahead ensures safe travel.

“If your vacation includes a stay at a relative or friend’s, make sure you plan ahead and talk to your host about the possibility of installing age-appropriate safety devices such as cabinet locks or outlet covers to prevent injuries to your kids,” says Mandy Thomas, Coordinator of Safe Kids Greater Cleveland at UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital. “This is especially true when visiting people with grown children or those without children, as safety devices may be out-of-date or nonexistent.”

When traveling by car, always bring your child’s car seat or booster seat. Babies should be kept rear-facing for as long as their car seat allows, usually to about age 2 and 30 pounds, and a forward-facing car seat can protect older toddlers up to 40 pounds or more depending on the weight limit for the harness. The Greater Cleveland Safe Kids Coalition holds child safety seat check-up events where certified child passenger technicians teach parents about proper installation and car seat safety. Visit www.safekids.org and click on Ohio to find the nearest child safety seat check.

“Every time you get in your car, it is important to make sure all occupants are buckled appropriately and secure all loose items so that they do not become projectiles in case of a sudden stop or crash,” says Tom Vilt, Child Passenger Safety Coordinator, UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital.

When traveling by airplane, UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital and the Federal Aviation Administration strongly recommend using a car seat. Infants and toddlers are safest in an approved car seat with a harness, in case of turbulence. “A child who rides in a car seat on the ground should ride in that car seat on a plane,” says Vilt. “While most car seats can fit on standard airplane seats, make sure your child’s car seat is labeled ‘certified for use in motor vehicles and aircraft.’”

Children who have outgrown car seats should sit directly on the airplane seat and, like all passengers, keep the lap belt buckled across their thighs or hips. Booster seats cannot be used on airplanes, because they require shoulder belts and airplane seats have only lap belts.

Planning ahead also involves packing appropriate gear for your children. If they will be biking, riding a scooter, rollerblading, skateboarding, etc, make sure to pack a helmet that is appropriate for the activity and fits them properly. If you are borrowing a wheeled sport, make sure the equipment is the right size for your child. If you are traveling with a baby and the trip includes an overnight stay, consider bringing your own playpen, rather than relying on borrowed cribs. If you must use a hotel’s crib, inspect it carefully for broken or missing parts and look up the model on www.recalls.gov.

“Vacations are the perfect time to reconnect with our family,” says Thomas. “But it is also a great opportunity to reinforce safety behaviors, like always buckling up and wearing a helmet. Let your vacation be fun and safe this summer!”

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