Visiting Over the Holidays – Safety Tips

The holidays are finally upon us! This means a lot more gatherings with friends and family. To ensure you and your kids have a pleasant – and safe – holiday season, check out these tips when visiting over the holidays, from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

  •  Clean up immediately after a holiday party. A toddler could choke on leftover food or come in contact with alcohol or tobacco.
  •  In homes with small children, take special care to avoid decorations that are sharp or breakable. Keep trimmings with small removable parts out of the reach of children to prevent them from swallowing or inhaling small pieces.
  •  Remember that the homes you visit may not be childproofed. Keep an eye out for danger spots like unlocked cabinets, unattended purses, accessible cleaning or laundry products, stairways, or hot radiators.
  •  Keep a list with all of the important phone numbers you or a baby-sitter are likely to need in case of an emergency. Include the police and fire department, your pediatrician and the national Poison Help Line, 1-800-222-1222. Laminating the list will prevent it from being torn or damaged by accidental spills.
  • Traveling, visiting family members, getting presents, shopping, etc., can all increase your child’s stress levels. Trying to stick to your child’s usual routines, including sleep schedules and timing of naps, can help you and your child enjoy the holidays and reduce stress.

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Traveling this Thanksgiving?

If so, you won’t be alone on the road — more than 43 million Americans are expected to travel for Thanksgiving, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California (AAA) projections.  It’s also estimated that most people drive rather than fly to their holiday destinations. While traveling can be a fun experience for the whole family, it can also pose some challenges if you don’t plan in advance, especially if you are traveling with little ones. Before you hit the road, make sure you check out these easy tips recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), to help ensure a smooth ride for everyone:

• Always use a car safety seat for infants and young children. All infants and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing car safety seat until 2 years of age or until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by the car safety seat manufacturer. Once your child has outgrown the rear-facing height or weight limit, she should ride in a forward-facing car safety seat. Updated recommendations on safe travel can be found on the AAP parenting web site .

• Most rental car companies can arrange for a car safety seat if you are unable to bring yours along.
• A child who has outgrown her car safety seat with a harness (she has reached the top weight or height allowed for her seat, her shoulders are above the top harness slots, or her ears have reached the top of the seat) should ride in a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle’s seat belt fits properly (usually when the child reaches about 4′ 9″ in height and is between 8 to 12 years of age).
• All children under 13 years of age should ride in the rear seat of vehicles.
• Never place a rear-facing car safety seat in the front seat of a vehicle that has an airbag.
• Set a good example by always wearing a seat belt, even in a taxi.
• Children often become restless or irritable when on a long road trip. Keep them occupied by pointing out interesting sights along the way and by bringing soft, lightweight toys and favorite music for a sing-along.
• Plan to stop driving and give yourself and your child a break about every two hours.
• Never leave your child alone in a car, even for a minute. Temperatures inside the car can reach deadly levels in minutes, and the child can die of heat stroke.
• Remember to bring water and snacks, child-safe hand wipes, diaper rash ointment, and a water- and insect-proof ground sheet for safe play outside.

For more information, including airplane safety tips, visit the AAP website and AAA website

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Tips For a Fun and Safe Camping Trip

Going camping with your family this summer? Before you head out into the “wilderness” check out these camping basics to keep your family safe – and happy – during your camping trip.

Proper Clothing – To protect against sudden temperature and weather changes, wear multi-layered clothing made of polyester, polypropylene, and wool. Layers of clothing will allow you to reduce or increase clothing as needed. To protect against rain and wind, bring lightweight waterproof jackets and pants. Don’t forget comfortable hiking shoes to prevent blistering. Caps or hats will help guard against the sun and protect against insects.

Campsite Set-Up – Scout the area before setting up a tent. In wilderness areas, look for signs of animal and insect use; for example, yellow jacket wasps build their nests in the ground. If berries are plentiful at a site, bears may forage for food there. Look for broken glass, discarded needles, and other hazardous trash around your campsite. To build a firepit, look for a clearing and previous firepits. During fire-hazard periods and dry seasons, use portable stoves rather than campfires.

Plants and Insects – Common plants to be wary of are poison ivy, oak, and sumac. Show your kids pictures of these plants before your trip, and if in doubt, avoid touching any unknown plants. Dress your kids in long-sleeved shirts and pants to protect the skin from exposure to plants that may cause allergic reactions. You can apply protective products before hiking that will act as a barrier against the oils of the plants.

Any area that comes in contact with a poisonous plant should be washed immediately with cool water.  Calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream (1%) may help to stop the itching that’s common with poison ivy. Antihistamines taken by mouth are effective for allergic reactions or itchy rashes — from contact with poison ivy to mosquito bites to bee and wasp stings. Don’t forget about ticks, which can carry several types of infections. Check your kids at the end of each day for ticks — examine places where ticks like to hide, like behind the ears, in the scalp, and under the arms.

Wild Animals – Teach kids that animals in the wild are strong and agile, and will defend themselves if threatened. Kids should not approach wild animals, even small ones, and should never feed them. Don’t leave kids unsupervised. Instruct them to stay calm and call loudly for help if they encounter a wild animal.

What to Pack – Besides the usual gear, bring along these essentials:
map of the area
compass
flashlight with extra batteries and bulbs
extra food
extra clothing, including rain gear
sunglasses and sunscreen
pocketknife
folding saw
matches in waterproof container
candle or fire starter
adequate supply of clean drinking water
appropriate insect repellents
walkie-talkie and/or cell phone
duct tape
50 to 100 feet of nylon rope

Don’t forget a first aid kit, including bandages, gauze pads, a cold pack, safety pins, scissors, thermometer, topical antibiotic cream (such as Neosporin), medications for pain or fever, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, and hydrocortisone cream, among other essentials.

Remain Calm – Should an emergency arise, the best thing to do is to remain calm. Families need to decide together on the best plan of action, examining the resources available. Before your trip, notify friends and families of your destination and time of return. If your kids have whistles and were instructed to wait in a sheltered area if they get lost, you should be able to find them more readily. If you bring a cell phone, make sure it’s charged. Always stay on the safe side when setting boundaries for family camping. The more remote your location, the more care you should take in choosing your activities.

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Tips For A Smooth Plane Ride With Your Little Ones

Going on vacation this summer? Traveling with kids can be fun, but challenging, at times. Below are some tips when traveling by airplane, recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), to ensure you have a stress-free time with your little ones.

• Allow yourself and your family extra time to get through security – especially when traveling with younger children.

• Have children wear shoes and outer layers of clothing that are easy to take off for security screening.

• Talk to your children before coming to the airport about the security screening process. Let them know that their bags (backpack, dolls, etc.) will be put in the X-ray machine and will come out the other end and be returned to them.

• Similar to travel in motor vehicles, a child is best protected on an airplane when properly restrained in a car safety seat appropriate for the age, weight and height of the child, meeting standards for aircraft until the child weighs more than 40 pounds and can use the aircraft seat belt. You can also consider using a restraint made only for use on airplanes and approved by the Federal Aviation Administration. Belt-positioning booster seats cannot be used on airplanes, but they can be checked as luggage (usually without baggage fees) for use in rental cars and taxis.

• Pack a bag of toys and snacks to keep your child occupied during the flight.

• Wash hands frequently, and consider bringing hand washing gel to prevent illnesses during travel.

• Consult your pediatrician before flying with a newborn or infant who has chronic heart or lung problems or with upper or lower respiratory symptoms.

For more tips, including tips when traveling by car, check out the AAP’s website.

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Six Ways to De-Stress Your Next Family Vacation

Wednesday, June 20th marks the first day of summer! Many families may already be planning or looking forward to their summer vacations.

“Vacation stress” may sound like a contradiction in terms. But any kind of change even a fun one—can trigger stress. Add children to the mix, and you have a recipe for more work than relaxation. Some preplanning, however, can help keep everyone smiling – check out these easy tips:

  • Involve older children in decisions about where to go and what to do on vacation.
  • Let kids be kids. Plan at least one child-oriented activity a day, such as a visit to the zoo.
  • Don’t feel pressured to spend a lot of money.
  • Plan fewer activities than you think you have time for. Rushing to reach a destination or catch a flight can add unwelcome stress to your family vacation.
  • Schedule time for stress-busting naps and exercise along the way.
  • Accept that some arguments are a natural part of family life. To keep anger to a minimum, let your children win on minor issues that aren’t worth fighting over.

Check out more great travel tips.

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