girl on beach smilingSummer vacation season is right around the corner. Whether your family is planning a trip to the beach, a few day trips to area attractions, or a more exotic vacation, it’s not too early to think about how to stay healthy and safe while you’re away.

“Planning ahead is crucial to making sure your family vacation is fun — and everyone stays well,” says David M. Pollack, MD, a pediatrician at CHOP Primary Care locations in Broomall, Drexel Hill and Media, PA.

While you may not be able to plan for every vacation emergency, you can arm yourself with the tools needed to meet most challenges — and know who to call if something unexpected happens. Here are a few tips for planning from Dr. Pollack:

  • Pack your vacation safety kit. Your family’s kit should include the summer essentials, like sunscreen, bug repellent, sun-protective clothing (i.e. hats and sunglasses), hand sanitizers and clean water. It should also include basic first-aid supplies, like bandages, antibacterial cream, gauze dressing and tweezers. And don’t forget any over-the-counter medications your family may need, such as ibuprofen, antacid and antihistamines.
  • Don’t forget any needed prescription medications. If your child needs medication regularly to treat a chronic condition, be sure to pack enough for your entire trip (plus a day or two in case you’re delayed). Always bring the medication in its original prescription container so the medication name, dose and prescribing doctor are clearly readable.
  • Create contact cards for every member of the family. Each person in your family should always carry a card (younger children can wear a bracelet or shoe ID) that has his or her name, emergency contact number, and healthcare and insurance information. The card should also include any known allergies and medical conditions.
  • Talk to your pediatrician about international travel. “If you’re going to a more exotic location, talk to your pediatrician,” advises Dr. Pollack. “You may need additional immunizations, or medications to prevent certain conditions — like malaria.” Your pediatrician can also give you recommendations about reputable healthcare facilities in the area you are traveling to.
  • Know where to take your child if there is an emergency. This is important for all families while on vacation, but especially important for families who have children with serious medical conditions or chronic illnesses. “Families should have careful lists prepared by their child’s doctors, and specialists if needed, to detail the child’s condition, show what medications the child is on, what equipment they need, and any warning signs parents should look out for,” Pollack says.
    Families with medically fragile children may also want to consider additional insurance. Some options include:
    • Trip cancellation insurance — Provides coverage if your family can’t go on the trip because a child gets sick before you leave.
    • Trip evacuation insurance — Provides coverage if your child gets sick while you are on vacation and needs special evacuation procedures, like if you take a cruise.
    • Additional or country-specific medical insurance — Provides coverage to your family if your regular insurance doesn’t offer coverage outside the United States.

Planning a safe and healthy family vacation can be a lot of work, but the rewards are worth it. You get to spend time with people you love, pursue activities you enjoy, and the opportunity to try new things.

And if your child gets sick or hurt, don’t hesitate to call your pediatrician. Your child’s doctor is available to answer your questions, offer advice, and ensure your children get the care they need, no matter how far from home you may roam.