FORT LEE, Va. (June 3, 2010) - Family vacations are a time to relax, but parents need to remain on the lookout for child safety hazards. Here’s a safety checklist for vacationing Families staying in a rental cottage or cabin.

One good measurement for checking a vacation area for danger to smaller children is to get down on hands and knees to see what hazards are present. This allows the parent to see what children see so that hazards may be corrected.

Make sure the pull-cord loops on older window blinds and drapes have been eliminated or secured. Cut the loop of the pull cord just above the tassel to result in two cords, or keep the loop taut with a tie-down device that fastens the cord to the floor or wall.

Hand-test the hot water temperature. A child can suffer third-degree burns in a matter of seconds if exposed to water above 120 degrees F. Most rental homes do not have anti-scald devices or renter access to the water heater thermostat. Hand-test the water upon arrival to avoid accidental scalding in the bath or shower.

Inspect the rental crib to make certain it is sturdy, properly assembled and in good condition. Be sure the crib slats are close enough together to prevent a baby from becoming caught between them. Also, examine the crib carefully to verify that all support hardware is in place and that there are no areas with peeling paint.

Pay attention to the windows. Approximately 70 children die every year by falling through an open window. Avoid placing cribs and other furniture near windows. With double-sash windows, remember to open them from the top, not the bottom, to let in fresh air.

Examine bunk beds for proper installation and support of the mattresses. Bunk bed guardrails, like crib slats, need to be close enough together to avoid head entrapment.

Carefully inspect the support slats, screws, bolts and welds on both wooden and metal bunk beds to make sure they are secure and in top condition. Avoid allowing children under the age of 6 to sleep in the top bunk.

Place all household cleaners and other potentially dangerous chemicals in a locked cabinet or closet.

Check kitchen, hall and bath cabinets and closets for cleaners, solvents and other potentially harmful chemicals and place them in a single, secure location out of the reach of children.

Check for proper hand and guard rails along all stairways and decks. Learn the location of all exits. Have Family members familiarize themselves with the vacation home’s entrance and exit routes, door and stairway locations, and the best evacuation route in case of fire. Inspect stairways, patios, decks, porches and other areas for proper maintenance and safety.

Keep in mind that some vacation homes are fully childproofed and meet the latest safety standards. The Installation Safety Office points out that many more contain older or second-hand items that may be in need of repair or lack current safety features. Vacations should be fun and enjoyable times for Families. Set aside a few minutes for safety checks to ensure Family safety.