JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas --
With the winter holiday season being one of the busiest long-distance travel periods of the year, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the 502nd Air Base Wing Safety Office is reminding travelers to take several safety precautions and be prepared before heading out to their holiday destination.
Whether it’s traveling by vehicle, plane or train, travelers should follow a plan and make preparations for their holiday trip, said John McLaughlin, 502nd Air Base Wing Safety Office occupational safety specialist at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland.
McLaughlin said travelers going out of town in a vehicle should plan their route.
“Know where you are planning to stop, how far the next stop is and how much gas is needed to get there,” he said. “Know your planned route, but also be flexible. Don’t risk trying to make it to the next stop for gas if you think you won’t make it. Stop. A five to 10 minute stop for gas can save you a day’s worth of walking to the nearest gas station.”
Once the trip has been planned out, motorists should inspect their vehicle to make sure it is ready for the road, including tires, hoses, seatbelts and fluids, said McLaughlin.
When traveling with children, McLaughlin said parents should teach their children not to wander from them, not to talk to strangers and what to do if they are separated from the family. He said parents can provide whistles for their children to wear around their neck, which the children could use if they are lost or in danger.
If the family pet is coming along on the holiday trip, plan to make extra stops, research hotels to ensure they allow pets and bring extra money for pet fees since most hotels charge extra to have a pet in the room and could require a pet deposit to be paid up-front, said McLaughlin.
McLaughlin said travelers should not leave their pets inside a hot car and provide them water. In addition, motorists should keep their pets on a leash at all times when taking them for a walk.
Be aware of dogs' collar colors, which may indicate to people the tendencies and behavior of a dog: green, friendly towards people and other dogs; orange, friendly towards adults and children, but not other dogs; and red, should be approached with caution.
All valuables in a vehicle should be locked in a trunk and kept out of sight.
Before traveling, be aware of weather conditions, including snow, ice and flooding, said McLaughlin. To prepare for emergencies, have a supply kit in the vehicle that includes first aid items, blankets, flashlights, flares, a shovel, food, water and road salt.
McLaughlin said motorists should not drink and drive and avoid driving at night since drunk driving accidents tend to spike near Christmas and New Year’s Day. If driving at night, travelers should be careful for wrong way drivers, especially traveling in the left or fast lane.
“If you have to drive late at night, avoid the fast lane, and if you see headlights coming toward you, get out of the way fast,” McLaughlin said.
Travelers should have their identification with them at all times. If traveling with firearms in a vehicle, travelers should know the concealed carry laws of the state or states they are going to.
If traveling by plane, know what is allowed and not allowed on the flight. Travelers can look up items that are allowed and not allowed on the plane at the Transportation Security Administration website, https://www.tsa.gov/travel/security-screening/prohibited-items.
Travelers going by Amtrak can check on items allowed and not allowed on the train at https://www.amtrak.com/prohibited-items.
Before leaving on a trip, families should make sure their house is safe and secure. McLaughlin said a family friend can stay in the house while the family is away. Also, make sure someone is bring in the mail, newspaper and packages while the family is away.
Other ways to secure the home include setting the lights on timers, locking all doors and windows, securing valuables in a safe or safety deposit box at a bank, making sure the stove is cut off, there is no clutter around the furnace and anything combustible is put away. Keep the heat on in your home so pipes do not bust if there is a freeze.
Any spare keys hidden under the mat should be brought into the house and put away while the family is gone.
For information on traveling safely, go to http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/resources-for-travelers, http://www.jbsa.mil/Resources/Safety, http://www.safety.mil, and for traveling in Texas, http://transguide.dot.state.tx.us.