Keep children's safety in mind on vacation



Welcome to trauma-and-accident season. This summer, American children age 14 and younger will be rushed to emergency rooms nearly 3 million times for serious injuries - everything from car accidents to falls from skateboards to near drownings - according to the National Safe Kids Campaign, an international association dedicated to preventing childhood injury.

More kids get hurt in summer than any other time of the year, pediatricians say.

"You've got to anticipate the risks as much as you can," said Dr. Gary Smith of Ohio State University, chairman of the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee for Injury, Violence and Poison Prevention.

Here's how:

In the car --Never leave young kids alone in or around the car, even for a second. Also, don't start the car until everyone is securely buckled.

On the plane --Though not required, the use of safety seats for young children on plane trips is recommended by the Federal Aviation Administration. Sure, kids younger than 2 can fly free in their parents' laps, but babies and toddlers are safer in turbulent skies when restrained in their safety seats.

At the pool and beach --The majority of drownings occurs when children are being supervised, the National Safe Kids Campaign notes. Designate an adult to be a "water watcher," taking turns, even if there's a lifeguard. Smith adds that you should always be within touching distance of preschoolers and toddlers when you are around the water.

On a boat --If the kids gripe about wearing life jackets, tell them it's the law: The U.S. Coast Guard requires kids younger than 13 to wear them on recreational vessels in Coast Guard waters.

On wheels --Either pack the bike helmets or rent them wherever you are going. The kids should wear helmets whenever they are on wheels - inline skating, skateboarding or riding a scooter.

Around the city --If you can't carry your car seat around, stick to public transportation. Babies and toddlers are safer in a bus, trolley or subway than in the back of a taxi without a safety seat.

In a hotel --If you have toddlers, make sure your room is properly childproofed as soon as you arrive. That goes for grandma's house, too.

In the sun --Even if the sunscreen is waterproof, reapply it every couple of hours, even on cloudy days. And make sure the kids drink plenty of water.

Eileen Ogintz writes for Tribune Media Services.

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