Spring Break Safety Tips

March is finally here, and many of us are planning and prepping for our Spring Break getaways. Read on for tips from Dr. Jessica Long on how to keep your little ones safe while on vacation.

February, the shortest and yet the slowest month of the year, is finally over which means one thing – it’s almost Spring Break! I love exploring new places with my children but traveling with kids takes a lot more planning than the days you could throw a bathing suit in a bag and be ready to jet off to Mexico. Whether your family is going somewhere within the US or traveling abroad, make sure you check these things off your to-do list to ensure a safe and healthy vacation.

First off, plan ahead. At least 6 weeks before an international trip you should arrange a travel consultation with your pediatrician to ensure your child is up to date on vaccines, check to see if any additional shots are recommended based on your itinerary, and discuss other health concerns related to your locale. The Centers for Disease Control has a great online resource that highlights health-related travel recommendations based on your country of travel. Physicians like to see you far in advance of international travel to ensure that any vaccines given will be protecting you in full force by the time you travel and to allow enough time to order any shots we may not routinely keep in stock.

Next up is the never-ending packing list. Things you’ll want to throw into your bag are sunscreen (SPF 30 or above) for all that fun in the sun, DEET (30-50%) for deterring those pesky mosquitos, and antibacterial wipes or hand sanitizer. I never travel without children’s acetaminophen and ibuprofen for fevers and aches, antihistamines for any allergy symptoms, and nasal saline for those inevitable stuffy noses. It might be helpful to throw in hydrocortisone cream for itchy rashes and antibacterial cream for skinned knees.

Unfortunately accidents still happen when you’re on vacation, so the same precautions you take at home should be taken on your trip. That means dragging along (or renting) car seats or booster seats so your child is safely secured for car travel. No classic spring break trip is complete without a dip in the ocean, and no child swimming in the ocean should be without a life vest, protective footwear, and a vigilant pair of adult eyes on her – the CDC notes that drowning is the second cause of death in young travelers. It’s also worth the effort to research ahead of time what medical care is available at your destination. That way, if an emergency does come up, you won’t have to waste valuable time figuring out where you child can get help. Depending on the age and health condition of your child, it may make sense to consider the availability and level of local health care when choosing a destination in the first place.

This may seem like a no-brainer but don’t forget your child’s normal medications. Countless times I have received a frantic phone call from a parent who left an asthma inhaler or other important medication at home by accident. No one wants to take time out of a fun vacation to hunt down a pharmacy for a new prescription so double-check that any daily, or even occasional, medication your child takes is packed in your carry on.

Happy travels and here’s hoping you get at least a little bit of R&R on your family trip!