A Rhode Island family was kicked off a Jet Blue flight from Turks and Caicos last month after their 2-year old was having a tantrum.  The couple was travelling with the 2 year-old Natalie, who was struggling and screaming, and her 3 year old sister Cecilia.

The couple managed to hold down Natalie and get her seat belt on while controlling Cecilia as well and waited to take off.  The Jet Blue captain, however, deemed it unsafe and ordered the family off the plane.  Because there were no other flights back to Boston the remainder of the day they were forced to pay $2,000 to rebook their flight and get a hotel room for the evening.

The couple believes this was unjust as they complied with the flight attendants orders and they weren’t belligerent or drunk.  Jet Blue issued a statement that they “had customers that did not comply with crew member instructions for a prolonged time period. The captain elected to remove the customers involved for the safety of all customers and crew members on board.”

I’ve done my fair share of travelling with toddler and it’s never easy.  I’ve also been on the receiving end of other people’s screaming kids.  But, did this situation rise above typical toddler behavior?  The captain assessed the situation and deemed it unsafe.  Ultimately, he is responsible for the safety of not only the toddlers but everyone on board. 

The family agrees that it’s not necessarily Jet Blue’s fault but blames the state of airline travel in general.  They do feel that the flight attendant did not handle the situation properly.

But, does this set a precedent for flight attendant’s and pilots to indiscriminately choose to boot off anyone who has a misbehaving child?

What are your thoughts?

Thanksgiving is right around the corner and experts predict that a record number of families will be hitting the road.

Here are some tips to keep you safe on the road and your home safe while you’re gone:

 

 

Stay off Facebook and Twitter – Don’t post your status that you’re going out of town or that you’re visiting relatives.  This is an open invitation to would-be thieves.  And if you think that no one but your friends will actually see what you’re posting, think again!

Get a check-up for your car – This includes brakes, tire pressure, windshield wiper blades and oil.  Keep an empty gas can with you in the car and an old, charged cell phone in case of an emergency.  Even if you don’t have a cell phone plan, you can still use it to call 911.

Plan for emergencies – Get a copy of any prescription from your doctor and pediatrician to keep with you.  If someone in your family has allergies get a second Epi-Pen.  Pack an emergency First-Aid kit for the car.  You can either buy a pre-stocked one or create one for yourself which includes bandages, icepack, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, antihistamine, antiseptic wipes and a barrier mask for performing CPR.  Additionally, keep some supplies if you get stranded such as blankets, water bottles, extra batteries and a flashlight.

Secure your home – Be sure one trusted neighbor has the code to your alarm system in case they need to get in.  Ask them to keep any eye out for any strange cars passing by. It’s also a good idea to ask your neighbor to collect your mail and newspapers while you’re away.  If you don’t feel comfortable asking a neighbor to do this, have your mail held and newspapers cancelled until you return.  Leave a couple lights on while you are away. In the chance of a snowstorm, make sure you have someone readily available to plow your driveway.  By doing this, burglars will think the house is occupied.  Shut off the water to your washing machine and make sure no appliances are left on.

Recently, my family visited Nickelodeon Suites Resorts in Orlando for our mid-winter vacation.  Trying to find a vacation spot the entire family will enjoy is hard enough, but finding one that is safe as well as fun can be even trickier.

Fortunately Nickelodeon fit the bill!  The resort had everything you needed right in one place, from a food court that offered a variety of meal options to shows, activities and a great water area.  It was evident that safety was top of mind.  What particularly impressed me was how we were asked if any of our children had food allergies prior to entering the restaurant.  Not many places consider this!  The pool had activities to keep everyone involved but there it was a zero entry pool so I felt comfortable that my five year-old was safe. 

But, no matter where you travel, there are a few things to keep in mind so that everyone stays safe:

PlanIt’s chaotic enough when you’re in familiar surroundings if an emergency arises but when you’re at a hotel, vacation home or resort all your preparations are useless.  Talk to everyone about what to do in the event of a fire, earthquake or some other natural disaster.  Establish a meeting place away from the hotel or home if you’re separated and determine ahead of time who will be in charge of grabbing the kids.   It’s important to evacuate immediately but be sure you have your passports with you. 

Prepare – Your teens will certainly want some freedom to explore a resort, hang out with friends or go to the pool by themselves.  Only you will know how much responsibility they can handle but set some expectations up front.  Establish a curfew time and be sure they know that they need to check in with you if they decide to leave an agreed-upon area.  Be sure they have a cell phone with them so that they can keep in touch with you. 

For little ones, write your cell phone number on a piece of tape and attach inside their shoe. Explain to them that if they get lost they should take off their shoe and show it to a grown-up.  There are also ID Tag bracelets you can purchase and write in all relevant information. 

PreventKeep hotel rooms doors double bolted and the chain lock on at all times so that little ones can’t wander outside and be locked out.  The rooms at Nickelodeon were kid-friendly (some of their favorite Nick characters were hand-painted on the walls) and safe.  If your kids tend to wander you might want to consider purchasing a GPS tracking system to keep on them in case they get lost.

While family vacations are never completely relaxing for parents, it certainly provides a little more peace of mind to know that you’ve selected a vacation spot that the kids will enjoy and where you know they’ll be safe.  Nickelodeon Suites Resorts will be a vacation everyone enjoys!

My friend went to Los Angeles last Thursday and was extremely frustrated to have a TSA official “screen” her breast milk through an x-ray machine but when she got to L.A. she was informed this wasn’t necessary.  I heard another story where the mother was required to drink a bit of breast milk from each of the 3 containers she brought along with her. 

In this age of heightened security and 3-ounce liquids, travellers are confused as to what is allowed on board and what is not.  This is especially difficult for parents travelling with infants.   According to the Transport Security Administration, “breast milk is allowed in reasonable quantities exceeding three ounces.”  What the heck is that supposed to mean?!?!  Who actually determines what is a reasonable quanity? 

Unfortunately it seems that many of the decisions are up to the discretion of the particular security official.  What’s important to know is that breast milk is classified under liquid medication and does not need to be x-rayed nor should you be asked to drink it!

Prior to flying, print out the regulations from the TSA Website  and take it with you.

Alison Rhodes is the founder of Safety Mom Enterprises and Safety Mom Solutions, the premier baby proofing and child safety company in the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut area.  Alison is a family safety expert, TV personality and consultant. 

Travelling for the holidays this year? For many of us we’ll be hitting the road for Grandma’s house, friend’s parties or even a family vacation. And, with airline travel being as crazy as it is, more families will be driving instead of flying.

Car accidents are still one of the leading causes of injuries for kids. Finding the right car seat, making sure it’s attached properly and being certain that they’re buckled in can add another layer of stress to the trip.

Or, maybe like me, you have a son, daughter, grandchild or niece or nephew that’s just starting to drive. That definitely causes stress for most people!

Want to learn some tips on driving safety and car seat safety? Need some tips about how to protect your teens and toddlers when they’re in the car?

Join us Monday night to talk car safety! Our host is LifeBelt, a terrific new product that guarantees your teen and toddler are buckled in every time they ride in the car! We’ll also talk about some basic car seat do’s and don’ts and some other products to keep everyone in the car safe.

Twitter Party Information:

Monday, December 20, 2010 8:30PM EST
Follow @safetymom & @autolifebelt
Be sure to use #carsafety for a chance to win one of three $25 Amazon Giftcards!!!
Lifebelt – www.nobucklenostart.com

By The Safety Mom

I never considered myself a “city girl” until my family had the opportunity to visit Verdant View Farm on our recent trip to Lancaster, PA. It was incredibly hot that day and it seemed as if the sky was going to open up at any moment and downpour. The farm’s owner, Ginny Rank, first brought us into one of the outer buildings which seemed to be a storage cellar. Just looking at Ginny I could tell she was a strong woman who had lived through many stories. She was going to teach my kids about making homemade ice cream and not from a professional ice cream maker from Williams & Sonoma – this was the real deal! She was incredibly patient with all five kids and, since it was already the end of a long, hot day, this was no small task! As we waited for the ice cream to freeze one of the farm hands, Matt, came to give us a tour of the barn. Needless to say, my daughters fell in love with all of the barn kittens running around. Matt was extremely knowledgeable and, while he was showing us around, described his typical day – at work by 5A and doing manual work that would exhaust most people within an hour. Everyone got to pet one of the cows and then he showed us a baby calf that had just been born the day before. He explained how, for some reason, the mother had abandoned the baby and amazingly a steer had taken over caring for the baby. He also talked about another female cow that didn’t make it through the birthing process. It quickly became apparent to Greg and me that farmers have a much different perspective on life and death. They really do see it much more as part of the natural cycle of things.

Matt then took us on a tractor tour of the farm. He was so polite and knowledgeable but also extremely mature – I was shocked when I found out that he was only 24 years old. I have to admit that when I look around in Fairfield County at many people his age they’re extremely indulgent and self-absorbed. I’m not sure one of them could ever handle the work and lifestyle that Matt is accustomed to. This is what I want my kids to learn – hard work is a virtue and politeness counts! One of the highlights for my kids is that they got to actually milk a cow and, when the tour was done, they all loved the ice cream!

The next day we were off to the Amish Village. All of the kids were absolutely fascinated by the Amish from the moment we arrived in Lancaster. Shane Ackerman, the owner of the Village, was a wonderful tour guide and showed us some of the tools that are used even today to tend the crops and the kids even got to feed some very active goats (mom passed on this one!) Once again, this was an eye-opening experience for the kids as they got to sit in the one-room school house that services 1st – 8th grade. After that, some will go on to a trade school but others are off to work. They learned that the school room is arranged in order of age so that the older ones sit behind the younger ones to help. My daughter whispered to me that she wanted to give them money. When I asked her why, she explained that they must be poor if they don’t have TVs, cell phones, IPods, Gameboys or any of the other things she’s accustomed to. All of them were shocked when I explained that they actually choose to live without these accessories that our kids (and us!) consider natural parts of everyday life. This was probably the most important life lesson we all could learn – it’s not about “stuff.”

Both of these activities are great experiences for kids as well as the entire family!

Alison Rhodes is the founder of Safety Mom Enterprises and Safety Mom Solutions, the premier baby proofing and child safety company in the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut area. Alison is a family safety expert, TV personality and consultant.

By The Safety Mom

I think one of the most exciting parts of our family vacation was having the chance to experience new things. I pretty much knew what to expect at Hershey Park but Lancaster, PA was a terrific surprise!
One of the first stops was a trip on the Strasburg Rail Road (www.strasburgrailroad.com ). Even Grandma and Grandpa drove down to meet us for this part to surprise Spencer for his birthday and this proved to be the perfect excursion for the entire extended family!

Whether you’re a train enthusiast or not, the first glimpse of the beautifully restored steam engine and authentic wooden passenger cars will take your breath away. You can feel the sense of history as people wait at the station to board the train. My entire family loved watching the giant steam engine re-couple as it got ready to depart again. Strasburg Rail Road holds the unique distinction of being America’s oldest short line railroad and is a designated heritage site. On February 22, 1861, President Abraham Lincoln made a stop at Leaman Place on his inaugural train ride, en route to Lancaster. His four-minute visit brought nearly 5,000 people out to cheer for the President and Mrs. Lincoln. To prepare for the President’s visit, Strasburg Rail Road had purchased their first passenger car, which ran on a special train to transport people to and from Leaman Place.

Today, the Strasburg Rail Road is one of Pennsylvania’s most popular tourist destinations, bringing in over 400,000 passengers per year! What’s great is there really is something for everyone which makes it such a wonderful family experience.

Along the 45-minute trip, you’ll get to see the Pennsylvania Dutch Countryside up close. My kids were fascinated when they pointed out the small building that was the Amish school for grades 1 – 8 and seeing some of the young boys farming. We then got to stop in Paradise, PA (yes, I did visit Paradise on my trip!) and then on the way back you can disembark and have a picnic. My 4 year-old was particularly excited when she learned that her good friend Thomas the Tank Engine makes stops in Strasburg and she could ride a train pulled by him!

For the adults, there’s a beautiful First-Class Parlor Car and you can book a trip for one of their wine and cheese tastings. You can also take a behind-the-scenes tour to see steam engines being built, restored and refurbished.

This is such a great trip to have fun and teach your kids (as well as yourself) a bit about the history of railroads in our country and experience Pennsylvania Dutch Country up close. Tickets are extremely reasonably priced and you can get combo passes that include other area attractions including Dutch Wonderland (a must for the under-12 crowd!) and Cherry Crest Farm.

So, if you live on the east coast or are planning to visit, check out all of the fun and affordable things to do in Lancaster, PA (www.padutchcountry.com) with a special stop at the Strasburg Rail Road.

Alison Rhodes is the founder of Safety Mom Enterprises and Safety Mom Solutions, the premier baby proofing and child safety company in the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut area. Alison is a family safety expert, TV personality and consultant.

By The Safety Mom

The big question everyone asked me today was “How was it taking 5 kids on vacation?” Well, as I said, lesson one is that it’s absolutely not a vacation for the parents! But, it was fun! I would definitely recommend Hershey Park and Lancaster, PA for any family – there’s something for everyone.

For the trip down I borrowed a Toyota Sienna. I’ve always been a big Toyota fan but had never been in one of their mini-vans (it was always my “pre-kid” car!) I was always one of those women that vowed to never drive a minivan. But yes, like most of us, I resigned myself to growing up and becoming a parent. Of course, now with kids I see how much easier life is with one. When I was researching the Sienna online I ran across their new ad campaign on You Tube. If you haven’t seen it, you need to check it out – it’s hilarious!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ra4JPZz3_Vo&hl=en_US&fs=1&rel=0]

Without a doubt, the commercials highlight some of my (and my kids) favorite features as well:

Reclining middle seats – The kids were constantly fighting over who could sit in one of the middle seats. There is a footrest that comes up and it completely reclines. Yes, we could have slept in it!

Back-up camera – OK, in the commercial she uses it to check out other people going into yoga class but it is definitely a great option. Around town, I can make sure that a child isn’t behind the car as I’m backing up from a parking lot. In Lancaster, it helped me be sure a goat or cow wasn’t behind me!

Tons of room – With 5 kids comes a lot of stuff but no one felt crowded! Between floaties, favorite stuffed animals and blankets and tons of souvenirs we were packed full. I loved that I could open the trunk with the key fob when I had my hands full of wet beach towels and holding my 4 year-old’s hand.

Of course, a 4 hour car trip would probably not be possible without the built-in DVD player and headphones (Toyota, please consider giving two more standard with the car???) At least it stopped the “Mom are we there yet?” question for a little while!

The other feature that I thought was really cool was the Front and Rear Intuitive Parking Assist. Whenever I get too close to something a warning alarm starts going off. I have to admit, for someone who is lousy at parallel parking like myself, this is a dream come true!!

And, as the Safety Mom, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the three row side curtain air bags. On our way down we saw a horrific accident and it always makes you stop and think. So many car accidents are a side-impact collision that for me, this is an absolute must.

The Sienna is definitely a cool minivan and that comes with a lot of great features. The kids loved the Toyota Swagger rap as well and are now making up their own dance – stay tuned to YouTube for our version of the Swagger family!

Alison Rhodes is the founder of Safety Mom Enterprises and Safety Mom Solutions, the premier baby proofing and child safety company in the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut area. Alison is a family safety expert, TV personality and consultant.