Today’s high wind advisories across half the country have me thinking about turbulence and staying safe by buckling up in flight. Here’s a chart of the projected turbulence for today. Green areas are moderate (AIRMETS), red are severe (SIGMETS). The numbers inside of each area show which altitudes that the advisory is for. For example, 400-240 would mean 40,000 feet down through 24,000 feet (add two zeros to convert to feet). SFC indicates the ground.
The Civil Aviation Safety Authority states: “In-flight turbulence is the leading cause of injuries to passengers and crew. Occupants injured during turbulence are usually not wearing seatbelts, ignoring recommendations to keep seatbelts fastened even when the signs are not illuminated. It is recognized that passengers need to move around the cabin to use restroom facilities or to exercise on long flights. However you should keep your seatbelt fastened at all times when seated.” This statement is echoed by the FAA and other air safety authorities.
The trouble is, most toddlers and preschoolers are not too keen on being buckled up for hours. As parents, we want to keep our children safe, but we also don’t want them throwing tantrums while trapped in a metal tube with over 100 other passengers to glare at us.
Here are a few ideas on how to get your child to buckle up when he’s not in the mood:
Some call them bribes, I call them incentives. Avoiding sugar is a good and healthy thing, but in flight on a long travel day the offer of a sweet treat can be wonderfully motivating for a young child. My favorite treat to convince Ella it was worth getting in her seat was lollipops. You can find organic ones, sugar free ones…any sort that you’re comfortable with. We like YummyEarth Organic Lollipops. Saf-T Pops are nice for the younger toddlers so you don’t have to worry so much about the stick poking down their throat.
Invoke favorite characters
When I’m working as a flight attendant and see a young child who doesn’t want to buckle up, I always remind them that Dora always buckles up. “What does she say? ‘SEATBELTS! So we can be safe!’” Amazingly this usually gets the child to agree to fasten their seatbelt, even if they’re not a huge Dora fan. It gives them something familiar with which they can relate.
Keep your child in the car seat
It might be a little bit of a hassle, but the safest way for your young child to travel is in a car seat. Parents report that when they use the car seat for every flight from the start and keep their child in it except for a few stretching a potty breaks, the child is more likely to stay seated without a fuss. They are already comfortable traveling in the car in their car seat and never expect to be unbuckled in the car, so you are keeping things consistent for them. When a child knows what to expect they are much more cooperative. The best way I’ve found to travel with a car seat is to use Go-Go Babyz TravelMate Original, Deluxe, Deluxe Cruizer, or Luggage Strap. You don’t have to break the bank. The Luggage Strap is only $19.99! Here is my review on the Cruizer. Note they have made even more improvements on it since my review.
Older children do great with the C.A.R.E.S. Harness.
Lap Children aren’t Invincible
Finally, if you are holding an infant in your lap, remember to keep him safe too. I am amazed when I see a parent bouncing an infant up to the ceiling during turbulence. If the plane is bouncing up and down and you bounce your child up when the plane is dropping down, the child is going to be hit on the head. When the seatbelt sign is on, hold on tightly to a child not buckled up.
You shouldn’t be fearful of turbulence. Most injuries from turbulence occur when the passenger or crewmember is not buckled up safely. If you do find turbulence frightening, you might benefit from this site: http://www.fearofflying.com/
Do you have any “tricks” that help keep your child seated and buckled during flights? Share them with us! Your tips might help another family keep their sanity.