Essentials for a Safe & Fun Family Vacation

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Based on the guidelines set by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Indiana Pediatric Doctors at Medical Specialists & Child Life Center have compiled a list of recommendations to help keep children safe and healthy during the summer vacation season.

Child Life Center, Dr. Uzelac, Medical Specialists, Pediatric Specialists, Biljana Uzelac

Dr. Biljana Uzelac, Pediatric Specialist

When we are packing for a trip, we are often thinking only of the fun activities. It is important to also anticipate accidents or medical needs.

The summer months are traditionally a joyful time for children, but warm weather and traveling can pose health and safety concerns for kids. The American Academy of Pediatrics recently published a list of summer safety tips aimed at minimizing summertime accidents and injuries. Based on these guidelines, the Indiana pediatric physicians of Medical Specialists & Child Life Center have released a list of recommendations for a healthy and safe family vacation.

Items to Pack

According to Dr. Bilijana Uzelac, Indiana pediatric specialist and Vice Chair of Pediatrics at Community Hospital in Munster, it is easy to forget first aid items when planning for a vacation. "When we are packing for a trip, we are often thinking only of the fun activities. It is important to also anticipate accidents or medical needs."

Always be ready in case a fever spikes or an insect stings by packing a first aid kit that includes:

  • Acetaminophen or ibuprofen for aches, pains and fever
  • Non-stick bandages, gauze, tape and antibiotic ointment for cuts and blisters
  • Antihistamines for allergies and rashes
  • Tweezers, small scissors and other often-used first aid tools
  • Prescription medication for your child and your pediatrician’s phone number.

If vacation plans include outdoor activities, be sure to pack extra sunscreen of SPF 50 or above, brimmed hats and sunglasses with 100% ultraviolet protection. “Even with these precautions, parents should consider keeping children away from the sun’s direct rays as much as possible between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.”, says Dr. Uzelac.

Stranger Dangers

When visiting crowded places such as amusement parks, zoos or ball parks, parents should take extra steps to make sure their children do not get separated from the family. Keep photos of children on hand and know their height and weight. Children should know their parents’ full names and what to do if they get separated from them (e.g., ask a park employee for help). Parents also can designate a common meeting place if someone gets separated from the group. "One of the best things parents can do for their kids is prepare them for these types of scenarios," says Dr. Uzelac. "Knowing what to do helps children to stay clear-headed and not panic."

Remember to Schedule Downtime

Finally, if traveling with young children, try to stick to regular sleep and nap schedules to make the transition back home easier. Pack a familiar blanket or stuffed animal to help your child sleep when away from home. When planning your itinerary, be sure to include downtime. According to Dr. Uzelac, "Too often, families try squeezing too much into their vacation and their time together becomes stressful, not relaxing." Being prepared and anticipating the family's needs should go a long way toward an enjoyable, memorable vacation.

Medical Specialists & Child Life Center is part of the Medical Specialists Centers of Indiana family of Indiana physicians and surgeons. This unique healthcare organization is comprised of highly trained, compassionate primary care and speciality care physicians and surgeons. Providing the highest quality healthcare to residents of Northwest Indiana since 1978, Medical Specialists Centers of Indiana strives to bring university level medical care to the community setting. No matter where you live in Northwest Indiana, there's a Medical Specialist provider nearby.


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Colleen Zubeck
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