Family Travel

Summer Safety

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I’ve been wanting to write about summer safety and being prepared for the things none of us even want to think about, let alone talk about, for a while now. But I guess Summer’s a bit like the ultimate party and nobody wants to knock the needle off the record, right?

Believe me, I’m totally a “blue skies and butterflies” kinda gal and I love nothing more than positivity on this blog, but this is the post you need to read. The one that COULD make the difference for your family this Summer.

Of course, there are no guarantees in life and there’s no sure-fire way to keep your family safe on your travels but these are the tips I’ve picked up along the way – so grab a coffee, stick Le Tumble on / bust out the loom bands / bribe with screen time (delete as appropriate) – whatever it is that will keep your kids quiet for 5 minutes so you can absorb:

POOL SAFETY

It totally goes without saying that you can’t leave a child in the pool.  Yeah, “No sh*@ Sherlock” I hear you cry, but it’s scary how many people don’t pay attention to their kids on holiday.  When we lived in LA, people were obviously way more savvy about pool safety than we are here. I guess since we only go on holiday for a few weeks a year and spend the rest of our time bundled up against floods and freezing weather (shivers) we’re not around water as much. But then, nor are our kids. So even more reason to WATCH THEM.

In the States this summer they have an EYES ON THE KIDS campaign to encourage parents to keep watching their children in the pool at all times.

 If your child has a buoyancy aid?  You need to watch them. 

If your child can swim?  You need to watch them.

If your child can swim well?  You need to watch them. 

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And think you know what DROWNING looks like?  Think again. Just before we went on holiday, I saw a random post on Facebook and, since it wasn’t asking me what food or city I’d be if I was one (seriously, enough with those already!)  I clicked.  And thank goodness I did.

It was about what drowning looks like.  It’s not all splashing and shouting like it is in the movies. It’s SILENT. And terrifying.  And TOTALLY what I needed to watch ahead of our holiday where I was watching the kids extra vigilantly and witnessed Akira bob underwater and not bob up again. Fully clothed, I was hauling him out in seconds, but we were both shocked and it took him a while to venture back in.

SO easy to get distracted with a book / phone / magazine – but don’t.  You’d never forgive yourself.  Make sure you know the signs of drowning. and check out this video.

**UPDATE** SINCE POSTING THIS BLOG, THE TOPIC HAS THANKFULLY BEEN DISCUSSED ON GOOD MORNING BRITAIN, ALONG WITH A NEW UK CAMPAIGN. PLEASE TAKE THE TIME TO WATCH THE VIDEO ON THIS LINK – AND SHARE

FLYING HIGH

My favourite times on Blue Peter were spent in the air. Flying planes, jumping out of them – you name it, I did it! And yes, I’m grateful every day for the opportunities that came my way. Training and flying with The Red Arrows for a week in Cyprus was possibly the best experience EVER! But to every yin there’s a yang!

I remember having ‘Yeovilton Dunker” pencilled in my Filofax  at the time (don’t judge!) and I didn’t truly know what it was until the day dawned. A training facility where they train pilots incase they have to ditch into the sea?  How bad can it be? Err… VERY!

The fact that the RAF and Navy Helicopter Pilots have to refresh every year and famously do everything to try and get out of it tells you everything you need to know. When I walked onto the poolside and saw a huge metal “helicopter” with seats in, suspended over the centre of the pool, I knew they weren’t going to be serving up a nice picnic anytime soon.

I was strapped into a seat in the metal “cage” along with 5 men and it was plunged to the bottom of the swimming pool. I literally thought I was going to die.  I had to find my way to a “window” – kick it out, then, having been told I was “Man 6” to get out, I had to get the others out before exiting myself.  Oh – and the bit I forgot to mention –  all with no mask or air.

As someone who gets claustrophobic and hates being underwater, it was my ultimate nightmare.  I would have happily handed back that coveted blue and white badge in a heartbeat if it meant I could stop the madness. But I couldn’t.

Then we had to do it and the cage rotated 180 degrees to dis-orientate us as we were upside down and didn’t know which way was up, then we did it again in the pitch black. I’ve never experienced anything so horrific before or since.  I even had to sleep with the light on for months afterwards.

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BUT the plus to come out of it was that it’s totally changed how I fly and it’s made me think about my escape route.  Now when I get on a plane:

– I LISTEN to the safety briefing. And believe me it’s tough since I’m needing to sort the kids / do final checks on my phone / get involved with my bag of random dry pretzels that have just come my way (!) BUT it’s so worth tuning in to what’s being said and not just hearing “bla bla bla”. Do you REALLY know where the life vests are for you and your kids and how to put them on?

– I KNOW where my nearest exit is and COUNT how many lines of chairs we’d have to get over to get to the exit and whether we’d go forwards or backwards – something I learnt at The Dunker. If “sh*@ goes down”, chances are you’d be in the dark, so don’t rely on being able to see where you’re going. You might need to feel your way. Hence, knowing the seat count is key.

– I make sure my kids know the info too.  Obviously I say it all in a lighthearted way, but it’s important they know too.

Being able to get out fast in the event of an emergency could make all the difference.   Speaking of which….

ALARMS & EXITS

Whenever we’re in a hotel or villa, I know where my exits are incase of fire. When I first get into the room I  do actually look at that little map on the back of the door!  I have friends who take carbon monoxide and smoke detectors with them too, whether going to a hotel, villa or camping. I guess it makes sense, rather than relying on hotels to change their batteries and check every detector on a regular basis?  Makes total sense to me.  I just need to remember to do it.

EMERGENCY MEETING POINT

Whenever we’re in a big city and splitting up as a family, we always have a plan as to where we’d meet if something happened. Like when Trey ran the London Marathon earlier in the year, he was running, and I was spectating with our two kids, but we were prepared for things to go wrong. If anything big happened, you wouldn’t be able to rely on your mobile to keep you connected, so having a meeting point is vital.

Also, after the marathon, Trey went to Leyte in The Philippines, working on a documentary about Typhoon Haiyan. Chatting to the mayor he picked up some insightful advice. When a huge natural or political disaster happens, no matter how good the government and emergency services are, for the first 24 hours you’re pretty much on your own.  If you’re out of your own country think about having a “grab bag” with passports and cash and the address of your embassy for that country.

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Ok – and BREATHE!

I realise that’s a bit like at the end of Crimewatch when they say “Don’t have nightmares” but knowledge is key on this one and I wanted to share the little I’ve picked up.  I was so grateful that I watched that “What Drowning Looks Like” video just before needing to get Akira out, that I wanted to share. And then I just kept typing!

Right, back to the Blue Skies and Butterflies!  Where were we?!

K x

 

24 Comments

  • Reply the truth August 16, 2014 at 9:26 am

    LOVE you LOVE your blog Katy! X

  • Reply Southbourne Gardens August 15, 2014 at 3:36 pm

    I would also add to this giving a family member at home a copy of your itinerary/flight nos etc and a copy of your passports. I also travel with two credit cards and two currencies in cash and always make sure my phone is fully charged. My own experience tells me that travelling doesn’t go wrong very often but when it does….

    • Reply Katy August 15, 2014 at 3:58 pm

      Great tips! Thanks for sharing xx

  • Reply Sonia Constant August 12, 2014 at 12:10 pm

    We are going on our summer holiday in a months time and I will definitely be re-reading this post in preparation. I cannot believe you were in a helicopter underwater. That is just making me feel chlostrophobic thinking about it!
    Love your photos. 🙂
    Great ideas.

    • Reply Katy August 12, 2014 at 12:23 pm

      Wow – have a great time! And thanks – I hope the post is useful for families xx

  • Reply Cass August 6, 2014 at 9:19 am

    Everything you’ve said makes complete sense and I’ll hold my hands up to not really listening to the flight safety announcements in the past BUT I definitely will in future and I’ll be counting seats too!

    Some great tips in the comments too!

    Thanks for sharing and making me think 😉

    • Reply Katy August 6, 2014 at 11:43 am

      I never used to listen either – too excited for the trip! That’s all changed now xx

  • Reply Becky August 6, 2014 at 9:13 am

    Very important stuff !

  • Reply Carolin August 5, 2014 at 10:25 pm

    I was volunteering as a lifeguard in my teens and luckily never had to rescue anyone, but there is some ridiculously dangerous behaviour to witness around pools or on the beach. Such an important post to right. Thanks for raising awareness amongst your readers. It’s so easy to put your child’s or your own life in danger.

  • Reply Nikki Thomas August 5, 2014 at 8:24 pm

    Such an interesting and insightful post. The water message is so important and I find that kids are usually so over confident, especially in the sea as they think all water is the same. I hadn’t realised that about drowning though, how frightening.

    • Reply Katy August 5, 2014 at 10:19 pm

      You’re so right – the over confident thing is what caught Akira out as he was obsessed with going in the “deep end” and then got in trouble. I was kind of glad it happened though in a way, as he has a new found respect for water x

  • Reply Pinkoddy August 5, 2014 at 6:22 pm

    You know I thought this was going to be a post on sunscreen – my husband made the mistake off not putting some on once and was really ill in bed for a week – sorry I digress.

    The swimming bit was a bit scary to read tbh, as my 17 year old is a lifeguard. I really have seen the pool with fresh eyes since. And yes the amount of people who don’t watch their non-swimmers especially because they don’t think the water is deep enough!

    I know people who have a fire route planned wherever they go.

    • Reply Katy August 5, 2014 at 10:18 pm

      I have the fire route thing now – and rope ladders in the kids rooms. I bet it’s been bit of an eye opener having a lifeguard in the family. Amazing how many super strong swimmers get into trouble too. People always think it’s the one’s who can’t swim x

  • Reply Aly August 5, 2014 at 3:23 pm

    I’ve experienced drowning personally 3 times in my life, thankfully my dad was on hand very quickly to help me.All of incidents were preventable in hindsight I guess but you can’t always know every possible danger.It’s very easy now as a parent to look back and see what I would do differently but we’ve become accustomed to a very safety conscious society compared to when I was growing up.

    • Reply Katy August 5, 2014 at 10:16 pm

      I know – it’s crazy how much more conscious we are now than people were in our childhood. It’s amazing any of us are still here! Still a long way to go though x

  • Reply Donna August 5, 2014 at 3:09 pm

    Really great post and the sort of thing you don’t even think about, usually, until it happens to you.

  • Reply Donna August 5, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    really useful tips that I honestly hadn’t even thought of. x

    • Reply Katy August 5, 2014 at 1:52 pm

      Glad you found it useful. I guess a lot of us prefer not to think about it x

  • Reply manneskjur August 5, 2014 at 10:13 am

    It’s those times when we are the most relaxed – like on holiday – when we are less likely to respond as fast and as clear headed to bad events like this.

    • Reply Katy August 5, 2014 at 1:51 pm

      SO true x

  • Reply Mummy Barrow August 5, 2014 at 10:08 am

    This is SUCH an important post.

    So true about the drowning. I jumped into a busy open air lido once, I must have been about 12. And just sank. I don’t know why. It had never happened before. And I sat on the bottom and literally couldnt get back up. I remember thinking “I am going to die and there are all these people here”. It felt like hours before somebody dived down, grabbed me and dragged me back up.

    Like you say, no splashing, no flailing of arms. A friend’s brother had happened to see me jump in and not come back up.

    To this day I wont get my face wet in a pool or in the see, and can’t jump in off the side.

    As for flying, another tip is not to wear tight jeans or skirts. Be prepared for scrambling over seats if you have to. And don’t wear tights. They are nylon, and melt and stick…. and well I don’t need to go any further.

    There was a flight survival expert on Oprah once who gave out a whole load of tips (mentioning the ones you have done above) and this is the one I have always remembered. If there is a fire on board, you dont want to be wearing tights.

    • Reply Katy August 5, 2014 at 1:50 pm

      Feeling VERY grateful I despise tights and always refuse to wear them! Ah – that’s an awful story. How terrifying for the 12 year old you. I’m not surprised it’s never left you x

  • Reply Boo Roo and Tigger Too August 5, 2014 at 9:44 am

    Excellent safety advice for the holidays, I think we are all guilty of taking things for granted so making sure we watch our children in the pool, listening to safety guidance on the plane and knowing where the exits are can really be a lifesaver.

    I don’t envy your experience in the helicopter underwater, I would be panicing

    • Reply Katy August 5, 2014 at 1:48 pm

      Ugh – it was THE WORST! Never again! x

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