We all know the feeling – getting to the airport, then a wave of panic comes over you. Did you remember your passport? What time's the flight? And where on earth did you put the kids?
Family holidays are the perfect time to relax and unwind – but it’s important not to get complacent when it comes to child safety. Read our tips on keeping the little ones safe and sound while you’re abroad.
And remember – while it’s important to keep your children safe on your trip, don’t let worrying spoil your holiday. Just be sensible, keep an eye on them – then relax by the pool and enjoy a bit of well earned ‘me time’.
1. Give everyone a set of contact details
Write down the address of where you’re staying, your own contact number, and the phone number of the hotel – then put it safe in a zip pocket on each child’s clothing.
For older children with mobiles, make sure they have the address saved on their phones too – just in case. But don’t just rely on phones, as these can easily get lost (as you’ve probably found out already).
A lot of websites sell ID bracelets – you can just slip a piece of paper inside a window containing all your contact details.
2. Arrange a meeting point if you get separated
Whenever you’re in a large, crowded area you should pick a landmark for the family to meet at if anyone gets lost. Pick something large, distinctive, and easy to find.
3. Give them instructions if they get lost
Make sure they know what to do if they get lost and can’t find you. Explain that if they can’t find you, they should find either a staff member, a policeman, a mummy or daddy who has other little girls and boys with them.
It’s best to do this at home before the holiday starts – it’s a lot to take in, especially during all the excitement that comes with a family holiday.
4. Research the area
Do your own first-hand research of what to watch out for in the area you’re visiting – whether it’s online before you go, or having a quick chat with the hotel staff when you arrive. You’ll soon find out about any potential risks – whether it’s bugs, stray animals or strong tides.
Check the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website for any travel updates on your destination.
5. Slap on the sun cream
Kids may groan about it, but they need to be covered up. That means high-factor sun cream – at least factor 30 – applied regularly.
Toddlers should wear a wide-brimmed hat to protect the delicate skin around their head and neck, while babies should always be kept to the shade. And don’t forget – you need some too.
6. Watch out for the water
Even if your child is a strong swimmer, don’t let young children swim unattended. And if your little one isn’t a born swimmer, make sure they have arm bands or another flotation device.
Pick a pool that’s fenced, with locking gates – then they can’t wander off. And find out if there’s a lifeguard on duty.
On the beach, ask a lifeguard which area is safe to swim – and if there are any tides or currents to watch out for.
7. Pack a basic first aid kit
As well as a basic first aid kit, bring medicine in case anyone gets poorly – Calpol and electrolyte solution will help if any little ones get an upset stomach.
8. Make staff aware of allergies
If your child has any allergies, make sure hotel staff are aware – look up phrases to explain your child’s allergy before you go to help avoid any language barriers.
If they have a severe allergy, consider a medic alert bracelet. Make sure you have any emergency medication on hand – whether it’s an epi-pen, inhaler or steroids.
9. Check the room
When you arrive at the hotel, give your room a quick once-over – make sure little bodies can’t squeeze through any balcony railings and that fire escapes are working and accessible.
10. Order a European Health Insurance Card
An EHIC is a European Health Insurance Card.
If you're a citizen of the EU, the card entitles you to free or discounted medical treatment when you're in an EU country. It's not the same as travel insurance, but it's coverage that's worth having.
Everyone in your family needs an EHIC card – if they're under 16, you can add their application to yours and they'll receive their own card. There's no lower age limit to EHICs, so make sure the whole family has one.
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