Spring break will be here soon, and as hectic as life can be as you prepare for a vacation, a getaway with your children offers valuable quality time and lets you build lifelong memories for your family. In the midst of all the spring break fun, helping your kids stay safe is a top priority. With that goal in mind, here are some essential safety tips for any activity you’re enjoying throughout your spring break:
On the Road:
- If you’re flying to your destination and renting a vehicle, plan ahead to have the type of car safety seat you need. Car rental companies typically have car safety seats available for you to use, but if you’re concerned about having a seat that will fit your child properly, it may be a good idea to bring your own.
- On long drives, make stops about every two hours to let both yourself and your child take a break and stretch.
- Particularly if you’re flying, wash your child’s hands frequently and consider bringing cleansing wipes as well for a more convenient option. Travel tends to bring you into contact with a lot of bacteria, and being vigilant may help your child avoid a pediatric illness.
- Never leave your child alone in the car, regardless of whether the doors are locked, how long you plan to be away, or how hot or cool it may be outside.
In the Sun:
- For infants under 6 months of age, avoid direct sunlight. Keep them in the shade, and if necessary, you can apply a very small amount of sunscreen on exposed skin.
- For all children, don’t rely on sunscreen alone to protect them from sun damage. Dress them in light yet tightly-woven fabric (such as cotton), ideally with long sleeves, as well as a wide-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses for eye protection.
- Any time you’re using a new sunscreen, do a “spot test”: apply sunscreen to a small area of skin to make sure your child doesn’t have an allergic reaction. We also recommend looking for hypoallergenic sunscreens, such as those offered by Neutrogena and Aveeno.
- When you’re looking for a sunscreen, make sure you select one that is “broad-spectrum” (meaning that it blocks both UVA and UVB rays) with an SPF of 30 or higher. Preferably, select one that is waterproof as well, but regardless, be sure to reapply every 1.5-2 hours.
- Sunscreen needs time on the skin before it becomes effective, so apply it 30 minutes before your child goes outside.
At the Beach:
- When you arrive at the beach, take stock of the area. Look for any signs or flags that indicate water conditions, and make sure that you know where the lifeguard is, where the designated swimming area is, and where there may be underwater rocks or other hazards. If possible, keep your child near the lifeguard while they’re swimming.
- Teach your children about rip currents, and show them how to swim parallel to the shore if they find themselves in a rip current.
- If you see lightening or if there are reports of lightening in the area, leave the beach immediately.
- Use “touch supervision” – stay within arm’s reach of your child any time they are in or near the water.
At the Pool:
- Never allow your child to swim alone. Even if he/she is a skilled swimmer, unforeseen accidents can always happen to cause pediatric injuries.
- Make sure your child uses a US Coast Guard-approved life jacket that fits properly. Do not rely on “floaties” (such as the popular inflatable arm bands) to keep your child safe. While they can help, they are not strong enough to prevent drowning, so they are not a substitute for proper supervision.
- Make sure your child knows never to dive into water unless it is specifically permitted and an adult has verified the water depth and checked for underwater dangers.
In the Heat:
- When it’s hot and/or humid outside, limit the amount of time your children spend on strenuous activities.
- Make sure your child always has water available when they need it and that they are consistently drinking enough water.
- If you’re in a warmer climate than your children are used to, ease them into outdoor activities. Keep their outdoor active time to a minimum for the first day and gradually increase it.
- Spend as little time as possible outside between 10am and 2pm, because these are the hours during which the sun is particularly strong and the weather is at its hottest.