Photo courtesy Tom Bricker.

It probably won’t occur to you until you’re chasing your two-year old down the hallway, but hotel room doors are remarkably easy to open. If you have young children, your own home is probably locked down like Fort Knox, but this isn’t the case in hotel rooms or rentals, which are essentially a bottomless pit of potential hazards if you have young children in tow.  Add to the fact that you’re probably more relaxed on vacation and your guard might be down and the potential for accidents increases.  The good news is that you can avoid most of these issues by packing a small Ziploc bag of baby-proofing items for your next trip. It’s no replacement for watchful parenting, but simple things like outlet covers and door latches can make your room safer–and maybe even mean you can shower in peace.

When you first go into your room, consider moving any delicate knick-knacks out of reach small children.  This is less for safety reasons than for financial reasons, as you don’t want to have to pay for it at the end of your stay if it gets broken. Put anything in question into a closet if there’s room. Next, if you have access to a kitchen, check to see what’s in the lower cabinets and place any dangerous items in the upper cabinets. Don’t forget to look under the sink for cleaning products that might be harmful to kids. These types of locks work well for cabinets with knobs and you can find them almost anywhere kids stuff is sold.

If your children are very young, consider outlet covers, which take just a few minutes to install.  If you want to block off access to a room altogether, the doorknob overs shown below are great.  The childfree adults in our group especially like them, as they keep little ones from waking them up at 5:00 in the morning. They’re cheap, take about two seconds to pop on or off, and don’t harm the doorknob, which makes them perfect for childproofing a hotel room or someone else’s house.

Most hotel rooms and all Disney Vacation Club villas have lever-style handles rather than knobs, particularly on the outside door.  This makes it very easy for young children to get out of the room. Obviously, you’re a good parent and you’ll be keeping an eye on your kids, but toddlers are unpredictable (and yes, adorable) and they can be very curious.  If you want extra peace of mind, try this type of lock (this one is from One Step Ahead) for those types of doors.  You can also purchase this lock at Babies R Us.

When our children were very young, we used these locks on the bathroom doors at Kidani Village.  I really don’t enjoy spending my vacation time saying “Get out of the toilet, Junior” over and over, so this saved us a lot of trouble. It sticks right on the door, but didn’t take off any paint.

Many rental houses in Orlando have screened-in pools, some just a few steps from the family room. If possible, check with the rental agent or owner prior to your trip to find out what kind of safety measures are in place. Ideally, the door leading out to the pool should not only have a deadbolt (preferably one that requires a key which can be put in a safe place) but it should also have a lock on the upper part of the door that children can’t reach. Make sure all the adults in your party are mindful about keeping the door locked. If there’s a alarm system on that door, make sure everyone knows to keep it armed.

Get Park Wise: Once your trip is over, consider donating these childproofing supplies to a parent in need. Same with strollers you buy especially for the trip and other duplicate baby items. While it may be a small donation to you, it can mean a lot to a family who needs it.

One of the biggest dangers in hotels rooms is the balcony.   Obviously the biggest issue is a child falling off the balcony, but also be aware that some balconies, particularly those at Disney resorts, have low walls or partitions that aren’t completely closed, allowing children to squeeze through to your next door neighbor.  Ideally, a sliding glass door leading out to the balcony will have two locks, one of which is high enough so that your smaller children can’t reach it.  The sliding glass locks at  Disney resorts all have two locks, but unfortunately the ones at newer resorts are low enough that even a small child can reach it.  If you want added security, you can buy a small lock that attaches with adhesive to the windows of the sliding glass doors.  Keep in mind that some condos and most  Disney Vacation Club villas have two balconies, so you’ll need two sets of these locks.

Childproofing your rental will take only a few minutes but it’s an excellent investment in your vacation.  Think about it this way: You might spend hours debating advanced dining reservations or deciding which park to visit on a given day . Childproofing takes a fraction of the time and offers you a huge return. It’s also probably a lot like how you live at home.  You’re obviously a good parent or you wouldn’t be reading this, so you know that childproofing your room doesn’t take the place of  keeping a careful eye on your child, but it can make your vacation go a lot more smoothly and give you peace of mind.

Do you childproof your hotel room? What tips do you have to share?