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Narrator: The key to childproofing when you're away from home is planning ahead.
Dr. James Schmidt: Open up really big!
Narrator: James Schmidt is an emergency room pediatrician and cofounder of wellhomecheck.org, based in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Dr. Schmidt sees injured children all the time.
Doctor: The startling point is that almost all these injuries are preventable. So when you travel it adds a different challenge.
Narrator: Dr. Schmidt will teach Jennie what she can do to keep her 11-month-old daughter, Makayla, safe when they're on the road.
Doctor: You are going to an unfamiliar environment, and the place is not going to be as thoroughly childproofed as your home.
Narrator: Supervising your child closely is most important, of course. But here are the other steps you can take.
First, pack a roll of masking tape. It can come in very handy, as we'll see later.
You can also consider packing a night light, baby monitor, baby bathtub, portable crib or play yard, and a fitted crib sheet.
Some hotels will provide a crib if you ask.
Jennie: Look! Look at our room!
Doctor: Alright Jennie, now that you have arrived at your hotel, the vacation is about to begin. But there's a couple of things we need to do.
I see you've ordered a crib here, which is excellent.
Narrator: Check to see that the crib is safe and assembled properly.
Doctor: You do need to look at them to make sure there are no broken or loose parts.
Narrator: Just like your crib at home, the slats should be no farther apart than the width of a dollar bill.
Dr. Schmidt is concerned that the crib is right next to a large TV.
Doctor: One, the positioning is not ideal, right next to this heavy TV. You don't want your daughter pulling on this and pulling the TV down. Let's find a better location for that. Just right up here next to the bed will be fine.
Narrator: The next concern is a common mistake hotels make – using standard bed sheets in a crib.
Doctor: These sheets are too much material. This could be a suffocation hazard for the child if she gets her head buried in it, so we need to change this.
This crib sheet is perfect. It is designed for a child's bed. It's thin and it's designed to fit tightly so it's not going to bunch up and suffocate her. Now you can put her in the crib and we can look around the rest of the hotel room.
Narrator: Next, inspect the floors.
Doctor: We're worried about things they might choke on or maybe even a pill left by a prior guest. Here is a little twist tie that was missed by the cleaning crew – that looks innocuous enough but that could go down into a young child's airway and cause a significant choking event so we need to pick this up and throw that away.
The next thing I notice is this little trash can with a plastic bag liner. And obviously plastic bags are a hazard to small children and is a suffocation hazard if they get it up over their head. You need to remove this liner or maybe just get the trash can up out of her reach altogether.
Schmidt: I did notice there are a whole lot of sharp edges.
Jennie: Is there anything I can do about that?
Narrator: Now it's time to wield your roll of tape.
Doctor: So if we use these washcloths and you'll get the tape out of the kit we can soften this corner.
That is much better.
While we're at it, we'll tape up these electrical outlets and that hole so fingers don't get stuck in those areas or an electrocution. It's not pretty but it works.
You want to make sure there's good lighting at night and this night light also covers the upper plug so this is a good choice here.
Narrator: You can also use tape to temporarily secure wires and drawers.
Tip five: Check windows and doorways.
Never rely on window screens to prevent a fall. Move furniture away from the windows so your child can't climb up and out.
If your room has a balcony, keep the sliding windows or doors locked at all times.
Doctor: Just like at home, the bathroom is an area in a hotel that has lots of dangers that we need to address.
Narrator: Place all potential hazards out of reach – like toiletries, razors, appliances, and plastic bags.
If you don't have a baby bathtub, try placing a large towel inside the tub to prevent your child from slipping.
When you're not using it, close the door and keep your child out of the bathroom altogether.
Doctor: And now it's a whole lot better.
Narrator: Once you've done all this, you can unwind and safely enjoy your stay.
Childproofing a friend's or relative's home can be even trickier.
Relative: Look how this little one has grown!
Narrator: That's why you may want to keep your baby in just one or two rooms during your visit.
Relative: The living room has a lot of glass objects and a glass table that can get broken so let's just hang out in the family room.
Narrator: Before leaving home, find out what to expect.
Doctor: You are going to need to call ahead to find out what kind of hazards there will be. You need to ask specifically about things like the sleeping environment, stairs, windows, balconies, things you're going to encounter so you can be ready.
Narrator: Once you arrive and everyone has seen your baby, set her up in a safe play zone.
Then pick the rooms you want to make baby friendly and, with your host's permission, get to work.
Doctor: Let's look at the living room here and see how we can make this a safer place to play. We do need to make some changes. I see some small fragile items on top of tables we're gonna want to move.
This lamp is going to be easy for a child to topple. We don't want that, so we are going to need to move this out temporarily as well.
This hearth is going to be a major concern. This edge right here is quite hard and sharp.
We need to make sure while the children are here that this window is closed and locked at all times.
Narrator: Remember to look on the floor and under furniture for items that could be a choking hazard.
Cover all outlets and secure loose wires.
Doctor: Here is a classic situation you will encounter in a grandparent's house where they have medicines out within the child's reach. Prescription medicines, over-the-counter medicines, and vitamins are all dangerous to children. So we need to get these out of the way.
So when you are visiting someone's home, there are very often areas that are so difficult to childproof, they just need to be off limits completely unless they are supervised. In my opinion, the kitchen is one of those areas.
Narrator: Use your creativity by using padded blankets or moving small pieces of furniture to block off danger zones. Consider bringing a pressure-mounted safety gate or an encircling gate to get the job done easily.
Finally, plug in your night light and baby monitor. Your baby is safe and sound and now you can enjoy your visit.
Relative: You can relax after your long journey.
Mother: That'll be nice.