TOPEKA – With the holidays just around the corner, many families will be traveling to visit friends and relatives, whether by road or by air. Safe Kids Kansas offers tips to families to ensure their holidays are safe days.
Infants and toddlers on airplanes are safest in a car seat with a harness in case of turbulence. “A child who rides in a car seat on the ground should optimally ride in that car seat on a plane,” said Cherie Sage, Safe Kids Kansas. “Air turbulence can be dangerous and can appear suddenly without warning.”
“You need your child’s car seat to travel to and from the airport anyway,” said Sage. “Car rental companies sometimes have car seats available, but the car seats they have on hand may not fit your child, or they may not be reliable. Your kids are better off in their own car seats.” Make sure your child’s car seat is labeled “certified for use in motor vehicles and aircraft” on the label. It is also recommended to call ahead to check on the policies of the airline you will be flying on.
Booster seats cannot be used on airplanes, because they require shoulder belts and airplane seats have only lap belts. Children who have outgrown car seats should sit directly on the airplane seat and, like all passengers, keep the lap belt buckled across their thighs or hips. You can gate-check your child’s booster seat so you have it handy at your destination.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) advises travelers with small children to reserve a pair of seats by a window. Car seats are not allowed in aisle seats or exit rows, where they could block emergency escape routes; they must be installed at a window seat. Some airlines may offer a discount for children under 2 when a seat is purchased.
Whether on a plane or in a car, adult travelers should buckle up. “You’re a role model,” said Sage. “Children learn safety behavior by watching parents and caregivers.” Safe Kids Worldwide released a study in 2005 showing a strong correlation between adult safety habits and children’s safety behavior. “Also, if you will be driving through other states, be sure to check their state laws in advance so you can be sure you are in compliance and avoid an unnecessary ticket.”
For more information about child passenger safety on airplanes, visit the “Flying with Children” page at www.faa.gov/passengers.
For information about car seats and child passenger safety in general, visit www.safekids.org.
For information about booster seat use and the Kansas booster seat law, visit www.kansasboosterseat.org.
At your destination: Be wary of hotel cribs
Safe Kids Kansas also cautions travelers to take a close look at cribs provided by hotels. In several random surveys from 2001-2006, Safe Kids Worldwide found many hotel-issued cribs to be defective, damaged or even recalled from the market.
“If you can bring your own folding playpen, that’s better than relying on borrowed cribs,” said Sage. “If you must use a hotel’s crib, inspect it carefully for broken or missing parts and look up the model on www.recalls.gov to make sure it isn’t subject to any safety notices.”
For more information about crib safety, visit the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission at 800-638-2772 or www.cpsc.gov.