Holiday travel with kids? Stay safe

Thanksgiving, travel, holiday travel
Thanksgiving brings family gatherings in settings that may not be as carefully childproofed as your own home.

Are you traveling this week?

Nearly 51 million people will be, according to the American Automobile Association.

Travel can jumble regular routines  for young children and their parents. Changes in sleeping schedules and arrangements, more people staying in a house that may not have the same level of baby-proofing as yours, and plenty of opportunities for distraction can increase the risk of accidents.

Take a look at these five areas around the house to watch as you and your family celebrate this week:

The kitchen

The Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors and the National Fire Prevention Association recommend keeping anything that can catch fire — such as oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains — away from the stovetop.

Always stay in the kitchen while cooking and turn off the stove if you must leave,even for a moment. Turn pan handles toward the back of the stove, and make sure to keep knives in a safe place.

The family room

The NFPA reminds parents to never leave a child in a room alone with a candle or other fire source.

Alcohol poisoning is a common risk for families during the holiday season, according to Remove all partially empty glasses or cups as soon as guests are finished to prevent the chances that small children will imitate revelers by tasting an adult beverage.

It might be early for mistletoe, but even common house plants can poison young children. Other items can cause accidental poisoning that may not be in a childproof location. Make sure to take the number of the National Poison Center along, just in case: 800-222-1222.

Bedrooms and bathrooms

Travel to relatives’ homes and hotels opens up the potential for babies to sleep in unsafe settings and increases the risk of death due to unsafe sleep, says a member of the Child Protection Team at the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.

Recalled cribs and play yards can put baby at risk. If you choose to put a baby in the same bed with you, make sure you are aware of the risks.

Check under the sink in bathrooms for poisons, and use caution when bathing kids. Never leave small children alone near water.

Outside: pools and firepits

Out-of-town guests may not be aware of pool-safety guidelines, so it is important to make sure they know to close gates when entering the pool area.

Remove any pool toys to improve safety and visibility around the pool. Be aware of anything a child could use to climb up on and over the pool fence.

Inspect fencing and gates to ensure that pool fencing isn’t damaged or deteriorated and that all latches and locks are working properly.

Remember that the “campfire in the back yard,” or fire pit, can cause injury, too.


Installing a car seat in a car that is not your own can be tricky. Plan ahead if you are using a relative’s vehicle. Phoenix Children’s Hospital’s Car Seat Helper App can provide tips on setting up your child’s seat in a make and model you are unfamiliar with.

The traveling with kids blog Delicious Baby has a list of tips for parents who choose to rent a car seat along with a rental car, as well as information on flying with car seats.

And speaking of flying — check out the latest guidelines from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) for traveling with babies and children.

EDITOR’S NOTE: A version of this article first appeared on our website in 2011. It has been reviewed and updated.