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5 safety measures people forget when traveling with a toddler

Meredith Bland is a freelance writer whose work has appeared on Time.com, Brain, Mother, The Rumpus, Scary Mommy and Narratively, among others.

How to keep your toddler safe during your holiday travels

Traveling is stressful — traveling with a toddler can be hell on Earth. So it makes sense that when you're getting the whole family ready for holiday travel, some things are going to be forgotten. But a recent poll out of the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital found that while parents never forget to bring things like snacks because oh-my-God-what-are-you-crazy, they may forget some of the basic safety measures that they take for granted at home.

Between packing (yes, my 2-year-old does need their own suitcase) and planning (Google, what are some kid-friendly activities in Moose Pass, Alaska?) thinking about things like where your in-laws will keep their cleaning supplies while you're staying with them might not make it onto the to-do list. In fact, according the poll, making sure cleaning supplies are out of reach was the safety measure that respondents (parents of children ages 2 to 5 who had recently traveled) most often forgot, with only 65 percent saying they do this while traveling. That was followed by keeping guns/weapons out of reach (67 percent), checking hot water temperature (67 percent), keeping medications out of reach (75 percent) and always having a car seat (85 percent).

Car seats can be tricky to travel with, especially if you're going somewhere where you'll be taking a lot of taxi or Uber rides. But if you've ever taken a cab in New York City, you know that if you're spending the entire time praying for your life, it might be worth lugging your kid's car seat with you. In all likelihood, there will be someplace safe for staff to put it at whatever restaurant or attraction you're visiting.

As for the other safety measures, it's a matter of making note of them and discussing them with your host before you arrive. They are issues that are easy to take care of that might otherwise be forgotten. It's important to remember that most of the places you'll visit — unless there's already a 3-year-old in the house — will not come toddler-friendly. A little inconvenience and a short conversation are all that are needed to make sure your toddler is safe when you're away from home.

Here are a few safety tips provided by Sarah Clark, Master of public health, one of the co-directors of the study:

  • Either bring your own car seat (most airlines will check them for free) or rent one. You can rent car seats at many car rental sites. If you are reserving a car through Uber, for example, see if you can get one that has a car seat already (they do exist!).
  • Talk with your hosts about making their home toddler-friendly by moving cleaning supplies, medications, guns and other weapons so they are safely out of reach.
  • Pack child safety devices like drawer latches, etc.
  • When you get to your destination, make a safety sweep to look for any potential dangers.
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