Before leaving your home, make sure it is secure and all major appliances are turned off. Ask a trusted neighbor or friend to collect your mail and newspaper each day so that your absence is not obvious. If you don’t have someone who can do this for you, contact your local post office and your newspaper and ask them to hold your delivery for the duration of your trip. Set outdoor lights and a few indoor lights on a timer so the house seems occupied.
Research your destination before you go. An online search will give you a list of local urgent care centers, safe and well-marked travel routes, and information on local weather conditions.
Teach children how to use a payphone to call 911 in case of emergency, or to reach an operator for a collect call in case they are separated from you. Make sure they know your cell phone number if you have one, as well as the number of another family member in case they can’t reach you. Choose a safe meeting place in case someone gets lost, like your hotel or a police station.
If you are flying, make sure to buckle up for the duration of the flight—not just takeoff and landing. Every year in the United States, nearly 60 people are seriously injured by turbulence on airplanes while not wearing their seatbelts.
Children weighing less than 40 pounds are safest when sitting in a certified child safety seat. When you strap a child into their familiar car seat, they have a natural understanding and acceptance that they must be seated for a while.
If you are taking a road trip with the family, here are several tips that will help keep you safe behind the wheel:
- Have your car checked and serviced before any long trip (battery, brakes, belts, fluids, and tires).
- Pack an emergency kit that includes water, jumper cables, basic auto tools, flashlight with fresh batteries, flares, equipment to change a tire, and a first-aid kit.
- Require all occupants to buckle-up and make sure all child safety seats and boosters are properly installed. Passengers under the age of 12 should ride in the back seat. Don’t allow unbuckling in order to lie down or sleep. Use pillows or blankets to get comfortable while buckled-in.
- When traveling in unfamiliar territory, plan your route ahead of time and choose large, well-marked and well-maintained roads. Try to do most of your driving during daylight hours and make regular stops for breaks about every two hours to help you stay alert.
- Avoid driving in the “No Zone” around trucks. If you can’t see the truck driver in the truck’s mirror, the truck driver can’t see you.
- Don’t allow horse-play or disruptive arguments in the car and don’t take your attention from driving in order to control rowdy passengers. Pull over if necessary, and don’t move on again until the order is restored. Reward good behavior during rest stops and at your final destination.
- Take the time to prepare for your family vacation, and a safe, enjoyable trip is truly possible.