A parent's nightmare
On a recent trip to California, I was in the motel bathroom in my underwear, putting on my makeup while my husband was in the shower. Our almost two-year-old son was supposed to be watching Sesame Street. I popped my head into the bedroom to check on him and got a nasty surprise -- he was gone. A quick glance around the room verified it - he had gotten up, opened the door and took off down the hall. I stuck my head out the door, hoping he was lurking on the other side. No such luck. Instead I saw our proximity to the parking lot, the swimming pool and a host of potential child abductors.
I threw a shirt on over my underwear and ran out the door, into the hallway that led toward the pool and parking lot. Benjamin wasn't anywhere. "Is there a baby down there?" I screamed to a man 50 yards down the hallway. "Yes," he called back, baffled, I'm sure, by my attire.
I tore down the hall and found my son, laughing, hanging on the gate leading to the swimming pool. Thank heaven it was locked. I marched him back to the room, truly understanding for the first time how you could kill someone and cover them with kisses at the same time.
I tell you my story here not to demonstrate how I showed my bikini briefs to a stranger, but so you can benefit from my experiences -- how NOT to babyproof your hotel room. Here are five tips to use to make sure every vacation is a safe one:
1. Doors, even heavy ones, can be opened by small children. Always, always, always use the deadbolt lock to keep everyone safe -- and inside. 2. Don't overlook hazards just because you're not at home. Electrical outlets, extension cords, blow dryers and sharp furniture corners are as dangerous in a hotel room as they are in your own home. As soon as you check in to your room, take a quick scout for dangerous areas, and bring a few outlet covers or other baby proofing materials with you, if your child is at the exploration age.
3. Another thing to carry with you is a small nightlight. Hotel rooms can be pitch black in the middle of the night, and it's scary for anyone to wake up in a strange place. A familiar glow from a Winnie the Pooh nightlight can make the difference between a screaming child and one who turns over and goes back to sleep.
4. Check for the nearest escape route in case of an emergency. I've been awakened more than once by a fire alarm. You want to be able to get out quickly and safely.
5. Keep your kids under your supervision. It may seem safe to let your son go to the vending machine, or your daughter ride up and down the elevators. Unfortunately, people staying in a hotel are still strangers -- even if they're sleeping next door.
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