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“Passports, tickets, money” is a fantastically helpful mantra for anyone who is going to board an air plane. If you have kids, the days of jetting off last minute without a care in the world are largely gone, though, and you'll need to think about a ton of other stuff beside passports, tickets and money.
Babies and kids seem to collect a whole host of items they can't live without and that you'll have to take with you. But I am not talking about those things — what is really important when you go on vacation with your kids is that you take the right safety precautions. What can you do to prevent emergencies of various kinds, and what should you do if one strikes anyway?
Common Vacation Hazards
You may be going on vacation to relax and recharge your batteries, but don't relax so much that you don't notice safety hazards that could turn your much deserved break into a living nightmare. What are some of the most common vacation hazards for families with young children?
The chances are that your summer break will involve swimming. Pools, lakes, seas and oceans are all great fun. They can also pose a big danger to children who are not yet proficient swimmers.
One parent or caregiver should constantly be on the look-out when kids who can't swim very well yet are playing in the water — make the task more fun by engaging with your little ones. Remember that it's very possible to drown even in very shallow water.
You'll also want to watch out for some other swimming-related hazards. Tiles around pools can be very slippery, and adults and kids alike should be very aware of that. Natural bodies of water can be dirty and contain sharp bits and glass.
Parents with really little kids will also want to be sure that their hotel room or apartment is safe for small ones. Beside the normal babyproofing stuff, you will want to check if any balconies that lead off your accommodation are safe.
If you are going to some kind of “exotic” destination, you might also want to check the quality of the country's infrastructure and how much attention they generally pay to road safety.
Some of the biggest possible hazards come from the natural world — mosquitos, snake bites, ticks, and, (yes, very unlikely!) sharks. Anyone going on vacation abroad should check if they need a tetanus booster shot, but also which travel vaccines are recommended for the destination in question. You can use the internet to check if the country you will be visiting has any particular natural dangers, and what you can do to stay safe.
Food poisoning is another very common vacation problem. It won't kill you or your kids, but it might just ruin your experience. Sitting on the toilet for a week isn't anyone's idea of fun. Therefore, avoid purchasing food from street stalls and dodgy-looking restaurants. Make sure you enjoy your safe meals with equally safe drinking water too, by checking if the local tap water poses a risk before you consume it.
Last but not least, sunburn is a very frequent but often overlooked danger. It increases the risk of skin cancer, but is also a very painful experience for everyone, but children in particular. Applying a good sun screen with a high protection factor is one precaution you can take to prevent sunburn; staying out of the sun during the hottest hours is another.
Medical Care At Your Destination
Accidents can happen, no matter how many precautions you take. Therefore, make sure you have the appropriate insurance coverage, investigate the quality of local hospitals and clinics, and have their phone numbers ready in case of an emergency.
Pregnant women might want to make sure that OBGYN care is available locally. Some family-friendly hotels and resorts even have obstetricians/gynecologists on the premises.