13 Hotel Room Hazards You Didn’t Realize Were Putting Your Kids in Danger
Don't ruin your family vacation by ignoring these overlooked dangers.
Scan pictures of the rooms on the hotel’s website for potential dangers before you book, suggests child safety expert Debra Holtzman, author of The Safe Baby. One thing to look at? The television. Unless a flat-screen TV is mounted on the wall, it could be easy for kids to knock the device over and hurt themselves. “If it’s older, make sure it’s all the way on [its surface] and pushed all the way back,” says Holtzman. If you’re stuck with an unstable flat-screen, ask the front desk to take it out for the night. You might want to keep the TV away regardless—science just found out too much TV can increase kids’ risk of diabetes.
Since December 2012, it’s been illegal for hotels to offer drop-side cribs, which don’t meet federal safety standards. Still, if you need to borrow one, double check that it’s stable before you let your child in, and don’t be afraid to speak up if the hotel is still offering an outdated—and unsafe—model.
Even if you plan to borrow a hotel crib, always pack your own sheets, says Holtzman. “Sometimes the child will feel better in their own sheet, and the hotel may not have a sheet that fits appropriately,” she says. An oversized sheet or one that’s too snug and snaps up during the night could be a suffocation hazard if your baby’s head gets caught in the loose ends. Be sure to avoid these other dangerous mistakes new parents make, too.
Small objects on the floor
Just like you’d do anywhere else, make sure the floor is clear before letting a small child crawl around. Get on your hands and knees to make sure there’s nothing under the bed or other furniture that your kid could choke on. “The cleanup crew could be great, but you may find a coin or button or water bottle cap or pill,” she says. When it comes to actual meals, make sure your children aren’t eating these toxic things in kids’ food.
Before you book a room, ask if it was recently renovated, suggests Holtzman. New carpeting and a fresh coat of paint might look great, but they can also leave weird chemical smells that can irritate your kids. “Most have been aired out, but especially with young kids, that might not be something you’d want,” says Holtzman. Check out these other safety mistakes even careful parents make.
You child-proof the corner of every table in your own home, but hotels won’t have those same measures in place. Luckily, you can make your own just by tucking a roll of tape in your suitcase. “If furniture has sharp corners, attach a washcloth with duct tape,” says Holtzman. Genius! Here are 13 more household items that make travel a breeze.
Time to break out the disinfectant wipes. Give often-touched spots like the remote control, door handles, and phone a wipe-down before settling in. (Find out what the 10 germiest spots in hotel rooms are.) “Kids like to put things in their mouths and touch them,” says Holtzman. You don’t want every previous guests’ germs in your children’s mouths.
Find out ahead of time if your hotel room has a balcony. If it does, make sure you’re able to lock the door so wandering kids can’t hurt themselves at high heights. “If that’s not possible, maybe there’s a room on the first floor,” says Holtzman. Even at your house, stay away from these things in your home that are a death trap.
Check the bathtub to make sure it has a mat or non-slip decals so your child doesn’t fall while in the water, says Holtzman. If you don’t see one, call the front desk.
A heater that gets too, well, hot, could be a burn risk if your kid touches it. Try to block it off, or see if you can get a room that doesn’t have one, says Holtzman. “Not having their kid near it would be key,” she says.
Lack of fire safety
When you get in the room, double check that there’s a smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector. Then go over fire exits with your family to make sure everyone knows how to get out if there’s an emergency. “Wherever you go, it’s always a good idea to have that information,” says Holtzman. Plus, brush up on these rules for avoiding carbon monoxide poisoning.
Does your kid have animal allergies? Check if the hotel is pet-friendly before you book, or cat and dog hairs could make your child have a reaction. “Even though they clean the room, be aware that you’re at a pet friendly hotel and you’re allergic,” says Holtzman. Check out these other surprising allergy triggers.