Spring break is just around the corner, and whether you will be jet-setting off to somewhere tropical or bringing the fun straight to your home, there are certain precautions you should take in order to ensure a fun and safe vacation for the whole family!
1. Make a Game Plan
If you are planning to take a trip this spring break, devise a game plan with everyone involved. In addition to discussing the details beforehand, make sure everyone has a travel itinerary, a list of phone numbers and an assigned buddy to keep track of throughout the trip.
2. Travel Smart
A safe arrival to your destination is essential to having a great trip for the whole family. If you will be traveling by car, make sure your vehicle is ready to hit road by checking the tires, keeping a full tank of gas and building an emergency survival kit. If you will be flying, pack a healthy snack, comfortable shoes and don’t forget to stretch your arms and legs between flights.
3. Be Safe in the Sun
After a long, cold winter, you may be looking forward to spending time outdoors and catching some rays. Although getting a little sun won’t hurt you, repeated unprotected sun exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays can cause damage to your eyes, skin and immune system, as well as increase your chances of developing skin cancer. To keep your family protected from harmful sun exposure, be sure to:
- Apply and reapply SPF 15 or higher sunscreen (preferably waterproof), every 30 minutes
- Avoid direct sun exposure from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. when the sun's rays are the strongest
- Keep babies under six months out of direct sunlight
- Wear protective sunglasses, hats and lightweight clothing
- Avoid tanning salons, where the intensity of UVR radiation can be up to 15 times higher than mid-day sun
4. Use Safety Gear
Whether you are dusting off your skates to take a spin around the neighborhood, taking your bike into the mountains of Colorado or skiing down the slopes, wearing the appropriate safety gear is important to keeping everyone safe in the event of an accident. Wearing a helmet, knee and elbow pads and the right protective clothing and shoes for the activity can prevent injuries and save your life.
5. Practice Water Safety
Beaches and pools make popular spring break destinations, but large bodies of water pose a number of safety hazards. Always stay within arm’s reach of your young children in the water, never leaving them unattended near water – even if lifeguards are present. Inexperienced swimmers and anyone engaging in boating activities should wear life jackets to avoid water injuries or fatalities.
6. Talk About Stranger Danger
Especially if you will be traveling to a new and unfamiliar location, talking to your kids about potential stranger danger is one of the most important steps you can take to ensure a safe vacation. Teach your children to never to talk with strangers, particularly at night, and to report any suspicious behaviors to an adult.
7. Stop the Spread of Germs
Anytime you travel, you become exposed to a number of new and potentially harmful germs. Airports are a common place for travelers to pass around bacteria that can lead to nasty colds and cases of the flu. In fact, some experts say you are 100 times more likely to catch a cold when you are on a plane than in your daily life! Make sure to:
- Wash your hands frequently, and cover your mouth when coughing
- Wear socks while going through TSA to avoid fungal infections (you'll be asked to take off your shoes)
- Bring your own pillows and blankets instead of using the airline's
- Think twice before flipping through airline magazines and catalogs that may have been handled by a sick passenger on a previous flight
8. Remember Food and Drink Safety
Spring break may be a time when you celebrate with new food and drink. To avoid food-borne illness, eat food that is cooked and served hot, wash all fruits and vegetables before serving and avoid dining out in places you feel are unsanitary or uncleanly. When traveling, drinking water and other beverages that are bottled and sealed is the safest way to avoid contamination.
9. Schedule a Physical Exam
It's always a good idea to schedule your annual physical to make sure you are up-to-date on all immunizations, but it is particularly important when traveling abroad. Before leaving the country, visit your primary care provider to double check you have the proper vaccinations, such as influenza, measles/mumps/rubella and polio, and have renewed all essential prescriptions. If you don't already have a primary care provider, now is a great time to find one by using our Find a Doctor tool to locate a provider in your area.
10. Have an Emergency Plan
Hopefully this spring break will be a safe one for the entire family. However, in the event of an accident, illness or injury, it is important to devise an emergency plan beforehand to ensure you have access to the right form of care.
Express and Urgent Care at UnityPoint Clinic
In the case that a non-life threatening health condition does occur, turn to one of UnityPoint Clinic’s express care and urgent care clinics across eight regions in Iowa and Illinois, for quality care you can count on. Use our Find a Clinic tool to find one close to you, and, together, we can ensure a fun and safe spring break for everyone involved!