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Ensuring Your Kids' Safety on Holiday

Aug 24, 2008
Child safety abroad has been in the news lately, and there's a very real paranoia in travelling with kids. Travel insurance for children is a good precaution, but won't protect against abduction or worse, so what should parents do? What is smothering, and what is too little care? Here are a few tips to help those worried about their kids' safety in the sun.

Get Travel Insurance for Children

Okay, so it wouldn't cover the kind of high profile abductions that have made the headlines lately, but getting travel insurance for children means you can relax that little bit more. If they get sick, your medical expenses will be covered, as well as the usual perks of the product. Some travel insurance aimed at children also covers them when travelling without parents or guardians, which is a must if they're heading out solo for your peace of mind.

Keep Kids Safe in the Sun

Although it may seem less important, the hot and unfamiliar climate can be very damaging to children's health - especially younger ones. For that reason, take insect repellent, sun-cream and after-sun with you wherever you go. Children have far thinner skin than adults and are at a real risk of sunburn and associated sickness. Make sure it's at least factor 15, and that you apply it every two hours and after swimming. It's a good idea to dress small children and babies in sun hats to protect their face and neck, too - if they'll keep them on!

Leaving Kids Alone

A lot has been made about the dangers of leaving children unsupervised, and it's true that there is a slim risk involved - but it becomes negligible if you take due precautions. Make sure you get a baby sitter, or have someone in your party stay back each night to take on the duty. An often overlooked alternative if heading out to dinner is to take the kids with you. It may seem like a recipe for ruining their routine, but there is always the option for them to fall asleep in the pushchair, and even if they don't, some experts believe there's no harm in kids having an occasional late night and taking a beach siesta the next day - provided you remember the sun-cream, that is! The best child safety technique is to keep them close!

Picking the Right Room

As something of a safe haven away from the dangers of the world, it's important that you make sure your room is a good choice for your kids' safety. The first thing to remember is that being on the ground floor, while convenient, is a lot easier to break into, so is to be avoided if possible. The flip side of this coin is that the higher up in a block you go, the more danger the balcony drop presents! Ask ahead of your stay about the balconies and make sure they're child safe. The railings should be close enough together to prevent tots squeezing through, and high enough to be impossible climbing territory for bigger explorers.

You should always take a carbon monoxide detector on holiday. It's very unlikely you'll need it, but they only cost a couple of ponds and could safe your lives. Your child's safety comes first.

Stick Close

The best advice for child safety is of course to stay close, but it's possible to be too paranoid about this. If your children are settled and unlikely to wake up, most experts agree that it's not unreasonable to leave them alone in their room as long as it's secure and you keep an eye on it.

If they do manage to get lost while out and about, bear in mind they won't know their address and phone number as they might at home, so it's worth putting their contact details on a piece of paper and putting them in a zippable pocket. A meeting point for older children is an alternative.

Training is Everything

Children of 3 and over can be taught of stranger danger and how to deal with such things. Shouting loudly when a stranger tries to grab them ("You're not my Mummy/Daddy!") to attract the attention of others is a worthwhile skill, as is being aware of what to do if they're lost. Tell them to find someone official looking - a policeman or a member of staff. Tell them that if they can't find any, then a family with young children will do.

Know your Surroundings

Perhaps the most important thing to do to ensure your kids' safety abroad is to get to know your environment and where things are. Make a note of the nearest police station and doctors' surgery in case you need to get there in a hurry. Basic first aid training can also be a life-saver - literally! The safety of your children could depend on it.

Don't let all this make you an overcautious parent! Part of the joy of children is their desire to learn and explore - just practice sensible precautions, keep an eye on your child's safety, and make them aware of what to do if in danger and you and there's no reason that you and your kids should have an unforgettable and enjoyable holiday.
About the Author
Patrick Chong is the Managing Director of Journey's Travel. Their commercial travel insurance website, Insuremore, offers travel insurance for children and offer a quick and easy online claims feature.
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