UH News

Summer Travel Safety Guide

Friday, May 24, 2013

No Matter Where You’re Going or How You’re Getting There, Consider Safety Before Traveling This Summer

Cleveland, OH— To many families, summer means one thing—vacation! As school winds down and summer heats up, University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital and Safe Kids Greater Cleveland want to remind families that planning ahead to ensure a safe trip is the first step to having fun while vacationing.

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 seats allow, usually to about age 2. Forward-facing car seats can protect older toddlers up to 40 pounds or more depending on the weight limit for the harness, while booster seats ensure a good seat belt fit for kids who have outgrown car seats but have not reached 8 years of age or 4'9" in height. Parents and grandparents can get help with car seat selection, installation and usage from nationally certified child passenger technicians at Rainbow’s main campus in University Circle or at UH Ahuja Medical Center. Call 216-844-2277 or visit rainbowbabies.org/childpassengersafety for more information or to schedule an appointment.

“Every time you get in your car, it is important to make sure all occupants are buckled appropriately and all loose items are secured so that they do not become projectiles in case of a sudden stop or crash,” says Tom Vilt, Child Passenger Safety Coordinator at 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 for your young children. 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 safety gear for children. If kids will be biking, riding a scooter, rollerblading, or skateboarding, make sure to pack helmets that are appropriate for the activity and fit properly. If you are borrowing a bicycle or scooter, 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 crib at a hotel or a friend’s house, inspect it carefully for broken or missing parts and look up the model on www.recalls.gov. “If your vacation includes a stay with a relative or friend, 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.”

“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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