If you’re traveling in a motorhome with your children or grandchildren, there are a few measures — in addition to standard driving laws and the rules of common sense — that should be taken to ensure the safety of the little ones.
Who’s Coming Along?
First and foremost, knowing how many little ones you may be transporting — and their ages — will allow you to make an informed decision before purchasing a new motorhome.
The seats in your motorhome’s cab have been affixed to the chassis of the vehicle by the manufacturer and have thus undergone extensive safety tests. However, just because a motorhome is equipped with seat belts in the living area (such as at the dinette or on a sofa) doesn’t mean those positions are safe for all travelers.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that passengers in the living area remain seated, in forward-facing seats, at all times while the vehicle is in motion. This is especially important for children under the age of 13, but is even more critical for younger children.
What’s also critical is whether the seat is equipped with a lap and shoulder harness (attached to the vehicle frame) or an infant car seat Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) system. A little due diligence before buying is in order.
Now that you’ve arrived at your destination and are set up for an extended visit, there are a few more things to consider.
Most likely, the majority of your adventures will occur outside, under the sun’s rays while hiking, biking, playing ball or simply basking in the great outdoors. Be sure to pack plenty of sunscreen, insect repellent and hand sanitizer. Keep a close eye on the children and keep them occupied; curious adventurers are known to dart into the tall grass in the bright sunshine and get into everything when their minds wander. Whether it’s identifying shapes in the clouds, counting trees and bushes, or scanning the landscape for squirrels and rabbits, keeping the kids busy will make the fun last even longer. Bottled water and healthy snacks will also keep them happy between meals and nap times. And, don’t forget to update a first-aid kit to suit your new traveling buddy.
Enjoying the outdoors is great, but always be prepared for when things move inside the motorhome. There are few substitutes for making the rules clear up front and for keeping an eye on the little ones at all times. Motorhomes are full of bells and whistles … and plenty of gadgets to pique the interest of a curious toddler. Monitor panels, light switches and even appliance controls are often within reach of a precocious explorer, so stay on alert. It also wouldn’t hurt to remove potentially dangerous items with sharp edges, or those that may produce an electrical shock if improperly used. Some motorhome owners go so far as to cover sharp corners with padding, or to install toilet locking devices and/or baby gates. As with a traditional home, it’s up to you which precautions you’d like to take.
With all that said, this is supposed to be fun, right? Bring along plenty of board games, playing cards, art materials and the like. Interacting with the tykes during your time together will keep them engaged and less likely to experiment with non-age-appropriate items. Set aside some time for reading, and bring along a few animated classics, just in case. And, remember, a nap is your friend. Taking even 30 minutes out of the day for your little ones to relax and recharge can make the experience even more special.
For More Information
Healthy Children (American Academy of Pediatrics), www.healthychildren.org
NHTSA Seatbelt Facts, www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/seat-belts
If you travel with kids, what are your top tips?
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