Summer travel season is here and families all across the United States are hitting the road and exploring the byways of America.
However, whether you’re staying in a national park, a small inn, a big city hotel or a chain motel along the highway, you need to think about making your overnight accommodations secure for your kids.
1. Ask about childproofing when you make your reservation. According to the National Safe Kids Campaign, some hotels will child-proof the room for small children before you arrive. Others, such as Holiday Inn Family Suites, will give you a child-proofing kit at the front desk when you register, if you ask for one.
Items that may be useful to pack include a night light, a bath thermometer, and something to tie up loose cords. If you’re renting a multi-level condo and have small children, a baby gate is probably something you’ll want to bring along. (If you’re flying, you can send the gate directly to the hotel or condo in advance. UPS is generally the least expensive for larger items like baby gates.)
2. Consider the room’s exterior access. If you have small children, forego the room with a balcony or one with a patio door that overlooks the swimming pool. They are just accidents waiting to happen.
Preparing the room for small children
If your hotel doesn’t offer a child-proofing service, you can still take steps to keep toddlers safe:
- Use pipe-cleaners or twist-ties to keep children from opening cabinets. Cabinets in hotel rooms, cabins and condos can hold all kinds of hazards for your child, like alcoholic beverages in the mini bar, cleaning supplies under the bathroom sink and small objects that kids can choke on. Securing them gives you one less worry about what your child might find in the corner of the cupboard.
- Pack duct tape. Electrical outlets can be a shocking hazard for small children. Prevent injury by covering unused outlets with duct tape. (Duct tape adheres more securely than masking tape, which kids can often pull off.) Duct tape can also be useful in securing pa
tio or balcony door latches.
- Use the chain lock. To avoid kids getting out of the room unexpectedly while you’re sleeping, use the chain lock as well as the dead bolt. The chains are usually higher up on the door so that little ones who might be able to reach and turn the dead bolt won’t be able to unhook the chain.
- Buffer sharp corners. Sharp corners, such as eye-level corners on a glass table, can be a hazard to toddlers. Use washcloths and duct tape to make these edges less dangerous. Peter Greenberg, the “Today Show” travel expert, advises getting down on all fours and crawling around the room to spot any potential danger zones. It may not be pretty, but it could save a trip to the emergency room.
- Move furniture away from the windows. Furniture that’s too close to the windows can give toddlers the opportunity to crawl through the window and “escape” without your knowing it. Windows will lose their appeal to small children if they can’t get near them.
- Secure the balcony. If you opt for a room with a balcony, the danger to small children is their fitting between the slats of the railing and falling. A few hotels, such as the Four Season Maui, offer mesh to install along the railings. If your hotel doesn’t offer mesh, bring your own or use that roll of duct tape.
Making the room secure for teenagers and older children
Toddlers aren’t the only ones who can get into trouble in a hotel room if you’re not careful. Teenagers’ curiosity and affection for electronics can take them into some shady territory. To prevent this, make sure to:
- Check out the Wi-Fi security settings. You have strict Internet rules at home; why ignore them on vacation? It’s easy to forget that some of the security features you use at home are specific to your network and don’t travel on vacation with you. Avoid this by taking a few minutes to check the hotel network’s privacy and parental settings and make any necessary changes. You don’t want your teen to be able to view content that not appropriate or that doesn’t match your family’s values.
- Lock the mini-bar. We all do silly things on vacation. Don’t let your teens be tempted by a full bar, sitting wide open for the sampling. Instead, lock the mini-bar and keep the key secured.
Family vacations are all about having fun together. Take a few minutes to make sure your hotel room is as safe and kid-friendly as your home and avoid any potential accidents.