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Traveling Safely with Children in Hawaii

Perhaps the most dreadful situation for any parent is to have their child go missing or become a victim of a tragic accident. I just can’t even imagine what they have to go through. Lately, I’ve been hearing similar stories in the news in which such children are also tourists visiting the islands with their families. My heart goes out to them and their loved ones each and every time I hear about such unfortunate occurrences.

The most recent report happened this weekend when a one-year-old boy nearly drowned on the North Shore of Oahu. According to the news, his parents lost track of him for a few minutes before later finding him floating in the ocean near Sunset Beach. Sadly, he died at the hospital that night.

And this isn’t to say that instances like this will only happen to visiting families and only at the beach, for that matter. It can happen to any parent, anywhere, anytime. My hope is that this post educates (or offers friendly reminders) to parents and families. Here are a few tips when traveling with children, with some advice from Safe Kids USA (a nationwide organization dedicated to providing safe environments for children):

Preparing to Travel

  • Discuss travel rules and emergency contact information with older children before traveling.
  • Memorize the poison control hotline number: 800-222-1222. This will connect you to a local poison control center in the U.S.

On a Plane

  • Consider carrying on a car seat, as it’s much safer than the child sitting on an adult’s lap.
  • Make sure the car seat is labeled, “Certified for use in motor vehicles and aircraft.”
  • Always accompany children to the airplane restroom.

At a Hotel

  • Some hotels offer cribs for infants and toddlers; however, be sure to carefully examine them, as most will be dated and not up to current health and safety standards. You could instead pack a portable bed and bedding for the hotel. Check out “portacribs” or “play yards.”
  • Babies shouldn’t share a bed with siblings or parent(s) nor should they sleep on couches, chairs or pull-out beds.

In a Car

  • Hawaii law requires all children younger than four to be secured in a federally-approved safety seat.
  • In Hawaii, the law requires children (between age four and seven) to ride in a booster seat or a car seat. This excludes children that are 4’9” or taller.
  • Make sure to use the car seat you packed for the plane in the car as well. Do not rent car safety seats, as you’ll have little knowledge of its past crash history.
  • It’s likely you will drive with the windows down to enjoy Hawaii’s warm weather. Just be sure to engage all child-proof locks and keep the windows up if it’s next to a child.

At a Beach

  • Keep a watchful eye on children at all times, both in and out of the ocean.
  • Because the ocean may be very unpredictable, you should rent or purchase life vests for children. Ask a lifeguard on where to get such equipment.
  • The safest beaches for children are definitely the ones with lifeguards on duty. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep a watchful eye on them yourselves.
  • Ask a lifeguard for directions to kid-friendly beaches.
  • Older children should be accompanied by an adult when swimming, surfing, snorkeling, etc.
  • Never turn your back to the ocean. This is mostly when beach-goers may become injured. A wave unexpectedly approaches them from behind, sweeping them into the ocean.

Posted by: Bruce Fisher on Sep 17, 2012