I always talk about travelling with kids as the most amazing way to bond with them and create family memories, but there is no doubt that holidays often come with extra safety concerns that we may not have at home.
I am, despite my better efforts, a very anxious person and while I don’t allow my anxiety to stop our travels, I always have to take it into account and put in place extra precautions to minimise risks. ‘Failing to prepare is preparing to fail’ the saying goes and so, as I prepare for our next trip, I decided to focus on what needs to be done to keep our family safe abroad.
Rather than my own advice, today I leave the floor to guest author and dad Danny who was kind enough to share with us 4 clever tips for keeping kids safe at all ages.
Quick safety guide to travelling overseas with the kids
Travelling as a family is a great opportunity to spend quality time together and form life-long memories. But it doesn’t come without its concerns.
You’ve got to keep your little ones safe – and this can be a little trickier when you’re abroad and they’re excited to be on holiday. Here are four of the best tips.
Water safety at the pool
Almost as soon as you arrive, your kids will want to jump straight in the pool. You’ve got to set some ground rules, depending on their age and ability. Even for confident swimmers, we recommend making sure they always let you know they’re heading in. That way you can keep an eye on them while you’re taking a well-deserved break on a sun lounger.
Editors’ note: please note that safety regulations are different in different countries. In Italy, for instance, it is normal for private homes and villas available for rent not to have fences around pools: this is considered standard and it is not always specified in the property brochure. Especially with toddlers and very young kids, make sure you ask specific questions about water safety in your destination so you can make informed decisions
Water safety on the coast: know your beach signs
It’s important to read and follow signs on the beach. Here’s a brief guide:
- Red and yellow flags: Mark out the safest place to swim or to use a body-board and inflatables. These flags move as conditions change.
- Black and white flags: In Australia, they point out no-surf zones in Australia. In the UK and US, however, they indicate an area solely for watersports such as surfing and kayaking. Check out specific country guidelines.
- Orange windsock: When an orange windsock is flying it shows there are offshore winds – not ideal for inflatables, for example.
- Red flag: Indicates that the current sea conditions are too dangerous to swim in.
Teach them what to shout
If your child is put in a threatening situation, you want them to get the attention of passers-by that can help. If they just shout and scream, it might be dismissed as a tantrum. But if you teach them to say ‘leave me alone’ or ‘you are not my mum/dad’ when they feel in danger, people will quickly notice. It’s every parent’s worst nightmare – but, to be safe, they’ve got to be prepared.
Editor’s note: I recently read an interesting article that suggested approaching the topic of ‘stranger danger’ using the concept of ‘tricky people’. Apparently, young kids have difficulties understanding what a stranger is and perceive someone who ‘seems nice’ or who tells them their name as someone they know and can trust. Introducing the concept of tricky people, familiar or not as they may be, helps the child understand that what makes a person dangerous is not what they look like but what they ask you to do. A tricky person is anyone who asks you to break a safety rule or that asks you to do something that makes you feel bad. arming your children with the tricky person concept and a with the correct instructions on what to shout will go a long way to make your child safer.
Establish a meeting point
When your kids are older, you’ll want to give them a bit of freedom to enjoy their holidays how they want. If you’re exploring new places and they want to go at their own pace, pick a memorable location and time to meet again before they run off.
Don’t panic if they’re a bit late – adolescents aren’t known for their time-keeping. Do check that your phone contracts allow you to call abroad, so you can keep in touch.
I hope you found these tips useful, they sure gave me some food for thought. I always think that as the kids grow older I will manage to relax a little more but the more I look into safety precautions, the more I see that each age has its own ways of getting us parents worrying. Is there ever a time when we can fully relax??
If you have tips to add, I’d love to hear from you!