The holidays are a wonderful time to create memories with loved ones, especially kids. Whether you’re staying home for the holidays or are dashing through the snow to visit family, here are some helpful tips to keep your little ones safe and healthy.
Planes, Trains and Automobiles: Safe Holiday Travel
However you’re traveling this holiday season, keep child passenger safety in mind before you leave home and once you arrive at your destination. Check the child passenger safety laws for where you are visiting, as they may differ from home.
- Planes: Some parents are surprised to learn that car seat use is recommended for little ones traveling on an airplane. The only exception is for booster seats, which can’t be used on aircraft. Before you head to the airport, check with your car seat manufacturer to see if your child’s particular car seat is approved for use with a commercial airplane seat. For children under 2 years old, traveling in a car seat secured to an airplane seat is safer than on a parent’s lap (plus, it’ll be more comfortable for you and for baby). The extra bonus? You’ll have your child’s car seat with you once you arrive at your destination.
- Trains: Because trains do not usually have seat belts or lower latch anchors, you won’t be able to secure the car seat to the train seat. However, you can still take your child’s car seat with you so you have it when you arrive at your destination.
- Automobiles: Wintertime in California often means wet or icy roads, fog and other less-than-ideal driving conditions, so adjust your driving behavior for road conditions. Leave early, allowing time for delays and giving yourself plenty of time to drive more slowly and cautiously in adverse driving conditions.
Don’t forget to check the fit! Remember that layers of clothes may cause a child to not fit appropriately in a car seat. Plus, traveling in bulky coats may cause little ones of overheat, making for an uncomfortable ride. Instead, dress in several thinner layers and use blankets to keep your child comfy and warm after they’re secured in the car seat.
Cooking up Memories: Kitchen Safety
Being together in the kitchen and cooking family favorites is a treasured activity for many during the holidays. While it’s great to involve kids in the fun, be sure to make it a safe space for them to participate. Consider these tips:
- Create a “safety zone” around more dangerous spaces, like the oven, knife drawer, or stovetop, to keep curious hands away from hot or sharp items.
- This goes for outdoor cooking, too – set an off-limit zone for kids (using sidewalk chalk or tape) for the turkey fryer, smoker, or BBQ.
- Avoid carrying or holding children while cooking.
- Use the back burner whenever possible and turn handles toward the center of the stove. This is a great tip not just for kids; by turning handles away from the edge of the stove, you’re much less likely to accidentally bump into your sauce pot and send the holiday gravy toppling onto the floor!
Even if your home is “child-proofed” and all cleaning products and medications are locked away out of reach of little hands, the places you travel to may not be. Consider this: 67% of accidental poisonings occur when medications are within a child’s reach, so if you’re visiting loved ones, ask them to keep medications locked, secured, and up and out of reach.
Pro Tip: Add the Poison Control Number to your Contacts list in your phone: 1-800-222-1222. That way, you’ll have it if you ever need it.
Watching our kids – tired from a fun day of playing with family or doing Christmas activities – sleep in heavenly peace is a wonderful part of being a parent during the holidays. And while you’re probably pretty tired, too, there are important steps you’ll need to take to create a safe sleep environment for your little ones before settling down for a nap:
- Avoid placing baby in bed with you, on couches, or other furniture. Baby should sleep in their own, separate space, even for naptime.
- Always place baby on their back to sleep. Remember: back to sleep, tummy to play.
- Do not put anything additional in baby’s crib, like loose blankets, stuffed toys, sleep positioners, etc.
- If no crib is available, use a safety approved pack and play or bassinet.
Get more tips about creating safer sleep environments for baby here.
Get more helpful tips on safety during the holidays and all year round by checking out the Safety and Injury Prevention playlist on Valley Children’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLB442A32E88AA691E
About the Author
Kristina Pasma, BSN, RN, CPSI, is a trauma nurse liaison at Valley Children's Healthcare. She is also the Safe Kids Central California Coalition Coordinator and is passionate about educating children and their families about injury prevention at home and in the community.