Parents warned not to overlook child safety during travels. PICTURE: Supplied

Travelling during the holidays is stressful enough without adding kids to the mix and when children are involved, the trips can pose serious safety risks for little ones.

That’s because parents skip things like car seats and keeping medications or weapons out of reach, according to a report from the University of Michigan’s CS Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll.

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“They may be less fastidious while on vacation, leaving medications in open suitcases or on hotel tables or not childproofing a relative’s house,” said poll co-director Sarah Clark.

 
Each year, millions of families with toddlers travel during the holidays, leaving behind routines and a childproofed home environment. The nationally representative poll asked parents with at least one child aged two to five about recent travel habits.

Overall, 15 percent of parents surveyed said they did not put their toddler in a car seat for every car ride on a recent trip, with the majority of cases involving taxi or shared ride services such as Uber or Lyft.

“Most parents recognize that car seats improve safety for their children,” said David Schwebel, director of the Youth Safety Lab at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

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“When they weigh pros and cons while travelling, however, I suspect the hassles of lugging car seats and then installing them in taxis or ride-share vehicles is the most likely explanation for parents failing to secure their children in the safest possible manner while travelling by car,” Schwebel, who wasn’t involved in the poll, said.

About one-quarter of parents didn’t remember to safely store medications when travelling with their toddler, the poll also found.

Roughly one-third said they didn’t check to make sure cleaning supplies, guns and other weapons were out of their child’s reach on their most recent trip.

One third of parents also said they failed to check the hot water temperature before bathing their child, risking potential burns.

 
Approximately 40 percent of parents paid attention to medications, cleaning supplies, weapons and water temperature during their most recent vacation, while 3 percent reported doing none of these things.

To prevent injuries during the holidays, parents should bring a car seat or rent one at their destination, Clark advised. Many airlines allow parents to check a car seat for free, and some ride share and car service companies can offer reservations with car seats.

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When the trip is to visit friends or relatives, it can help to ask hosts to put medications, cleaners or other potentially dangerous items out of reach before toddlers arrive in the house, Clark added.

READ: Top road safety tips for self-drive holidays

Bringing safety devices like cabinet latches and baby gates can also help keep kids from getting into places where they might be hurt. A common cause of poisoning is household cleaners, which are often stored in cabinets low to the ground right at toddler level.