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7 Must-Know Airplane Travel Tips for Parents
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Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Debra Holtzman
Debra Holtzman
 
"In addition to packing in your carry-on baggage necessities such as breast milk, baby formula, diapers, medicine and items that will keep your child entertained, there are steps that you should take to make the flight safer for yourself and your baby", says Debra Holtzman, JD, MA, an internationally acclaimed safety and health expert and best-selling author of "The Safe Baby: A Do-It-Yourself Guide to Home Safety" (Sentient Publications).

1. Fly Nonstop

It is more than inconvenient to have to change airplanes, running the risk of missing a connecting flight and racing through a busy airport carrying a baby or toddler and all of her gear. A nonstop flight is actually safer. Most crashes occur during takeoff, climbing, descending and landing than the flight itself. Sometimes changing planes cannot be avoided. Most airlines will provide assistance in transporting your child, car seat and luggage. Arrange for this in advance.

2. Plan Ahead for the Appropriate Car Seat to Be Used on the Plane

Although the FAA permits children under age 2 to fly in a parents arm, imagine trying to hold on to a child in turbulence or in an emergency. Look for a label that says, "This restraint is certified for use in motor vehicles and aircrafts. In order to fit on an airplane seat, the car seat cannot be wider than 16 inches.

All children 40 pounds and under should be in car seats with a harness on an airplane. The same age and weight rules apply for planes as for cars. In order to sit facing forward safely, a child should be at least 12 months and weigh at least 20 pounds. (Holtzman strongly recommends to keep children rear-facing to the highest weight or height allowed by the car seat's manufacturer.) Rear-facing infant seats fit best on airplanes, but you can use a rear-facing convertible seat. Children who have out grown car seats should be secured by the standard-issue aircraft safety belt. Keep the lap belt buckled across their thighs or hips. Even though some booster seats and harness vests can be used safely in a car, they are banned from use in aircraft during taxi, take-off and landing.

Important Note: A three-year-old girl was the sole survivor of a plane crash in the rugged British Columbia mountains. Rescuers credited her survival with the fact she was carefully strapped into a car seat in the plane, which was found nose down and flipped over in the icy water on the edge of a riverbank.

3. Inform the Airline That You Will Be Traveling with a Child

Some airlines may have special policies for transporting children. Be sure to ask. You may also get a break in price, even though the child is, essentially, taking up as much space as an adult. Some airlines may offer discounted tickets for children younger than 2 years of who will be traveling in a car seat. If you can, avoid the busiest days and times for flying; this will make it more likely that you will have adequate space. The car seat must be installed in a window seat so other passengers are not prevented from getting out into the aisle. And children cannot ride in emergency exit rows.

4. Become Familiar with the Aircraft and Pay Attention to Safety Announcements

As you board the plane, take your seat and locate the exits closet to you. Count the number of rows to the nearest exits (toward the front and back of the plane) In a smoke-filled cabin, you'll be able to feel your way to the exit. Check to see if there are seat-back telephones available. Read the written safety instructions. You've glanced at them dozens of times, of course, but a quick review will prepare you to handle an emergency should it arise. And pay close attention to the flight attendant's preflight emergency briefing. Reviewing what you already know can help you act quickly if there is a need.

5. Keep Your Safety Belt on

Throughout the flight, stay belted and keep your child in the child-restraint system. If the plane hits unexpected turbulence and the pilot must negotiate unusual maneuvers, you'll be ready.

6. Remember: Your Oxygen Mask Goes on First

If emergency masks come down, grab the one dangling in front of you and put it on first. If your brain is starved of oxygen, you can pass out or get disoriented, in such a situation, you won't be able to help your child get out of a plane.

7. Don't Panic!

In the unlikely event there is an emergency situation, you need to remain calm so that you can focus on the directions of the flight attendant and crew.

Debra Holtzman has been featured on NBC?s Today Show, MSNBC and Discovery Health Channel. Her best-selling book, "The Safe Baby: A Do-it-Yourself Guide to Home Safety" (Sentient Publications) offers parents economical, easy-to-implement solutions to provide a safe, healthy, and green living lifestyle for children, dogs and cats.

"The Safe Baby" includes important and highly topical information on toy safety, food safety, pet safety, pesticides, toxic cleaning products, dangerous recalls, holiday safety, preventing lead poisoning, preventing home fires, handling emergencies and disasters, and preventing MRSA staph infections.

Interviews may be arranged via: E-mail: safebook@aol.com http://thesafetyexpert.com