Nearly 80% of Americans intend to head out of town to enjoy the warm weather this year. There will be a lot of vehicle taking to the roads, regardless of where you intend to go on your summer vacation. Whether you blame it on the number of motorists on the road, the fact that many families travel with children and even pets, empty homes that are easy targets for robbers, or the soaring mercury levels, Murphy’s Law seems to apply more in summer than at any other time of the year.
For instance, June to September are considered peak months for personal injuries. Nearly 40% of all fatal motor vehicle collisions are reported during these 4 months. Also, burglary rates are the highest in summer months. Whether you intend to indulge in a quick weekend getaway or have planned a longer summer trip to a foreign destination, here are a few tips that will keep your loved ones and your assets safe.
Don’t forget to protect your home when you’re on vacation.
- Information is power that can be used in the wrong way: The excitement of a vacation makes people put their guard down. Often that’s how information gets into the wrong hands. So, contain your joy and talk about your holiday plans until after you get back home. This holds especially true for all social media posts about the planned vacation.
- Be away yet at home: The most visible way to let burglars know that you aren’t around is to leave a pile of newspapers and mail at the door. Create the illusion of occupancy by asking a friend or neighbor to pick them up for you. Lights that are consistently off for several days and a lawn that needs tending are other factors that will plainly announce your absence. Consider using motion detector lights outside your home and set the indoor lights on a timer. Also, get a lawn care service provider to work on the yard while you are away.
- Play it safe with the gadgets: You are not going to be around, so there is absolutely no reason to keep the electronics connected to the wall outlets. Clear out the refrigerator and unplug it along with the television, stereos and other appliances. If they are connected to surge protectors, simply switch the power off.
- Plan ahead for your pets: It’s not always possible to take your four legged friends along on a summer trip. Arrange for a kennel or a pet sitter well ahead of your vacation because summer months are peak season for pet boarders.
- Allow access to your home in case of an emergency: It is always a good idea to hand over a key to a trusted neighbor or friend, so that it can be used in case of an emergency. If you do have a spot outside the home where you place the extra key, remove it and keep it inside your house while you are away. Intruders know all about the penchant that people have for placing their extra key under the welcome mat, below the inconspicuous plastic rock, and above the door, and they will only be too happy to use this information to their advantage.
- Get the neighbors to help if you can: If you have a good rapport with your neighbors, tell them about your vacation plans and ask them to keep an eye out for activity in and around your property. Also, if you intend to take your car along, get a neighbor to park in front of your home. This is another way to make it look like you are around.
Get the car ready for the sweltering heat.
- 1. In summer, overheating leads to the highest number of car breakdowns. Make sure that the radiator has just the right mix of coolant in it (usually 50/50 antifreeze and water, but you should check the manufacturer specifications).
- 2. Get your hoses checked. The hoses need to be in top shape if the coolant is going to get to the parts where it is needed the most. Any cracks or separation will cause trouble. Sponginess/softness is a sign of impending leaks.
- 3. Check both the oil level and quality. The hotter the weather, the greater the need for lubrication. It’s best to err on the side of caution, so consider an oil change every 3000-5000 miles.
- 4. Test the battery, particularly if it is more than three years old.
- 5. The car’s air conditioning system can make a huge difference in just how comfortable or uncomfortable the journey will be. Check the cooling by placing a thermometer in front of the vents. A less than optimal performance can be attributed to something as simple as clogged cabin filters or even to refrigerant loss. You will need to get a mechanic to help with the latter.
- 6. A blowout can be dangerous on any road and at any time of the year. In summer, with so many vehicles around, a blowout can easily lead to a fatal crash. Make sure you have the right air pressure in the tires before you hit the road.
- 7. A general tune up is advisable. After fluids, tires and the battery, turn your attention to the brakes, lights and wipers.
- 8. Always carry an emergency kit along. The kit should at least have a first-aid materials, a flare or lighter, water and a flashlight.
Make the journey as much fun as the destination.
- – Don’t stretch the limits of your car’s roof rack. Staying within the height and weight limits is a simple yet effective way to prevent mishaps and get good mileage.
- – Do not let the bags or anything else block your front or rear view.
- – Kids can be 10 times as distracting as cell phones. Create a safe zone for the little ones and the pets in the back seat.
- – Don’t forget to have everybody to buckle up.
- – If you are travelling with kids, don’t forget to bring healthy snacks and entertainment along.
- – Stop to smell the roses. Taking a break makes it easier and safer to get through a long journey.
- – Always park your car in well-lit areas.
- – Never leave your valuables in the car. If you must, keep them out of plain sight by locking them in the trunk, placing them under the seat, or on the floor with a blanket to cover them.
- – Never leave the doors and windows of your car unlocked, certainly not with the engine running.
A vacation that leaves you with memories and not injuries.
- – Never leave your kids unattended near a body of water, even if there is a lifeguard around.
- – Campgrounds are magnets for local wildlife. Steer clear of animals foraging through the trash and those that you spot on the trails. Never feed or irritate an animal. Most animal attacks are provoked, so let better sense prevail over your desire for a selfie.
- – The bugs and bees will also be out in full force. Be prepared for bites and stings and bring along some insect repellent.
- – Do not leave kids and pets in the car, not even for a few minutes.
- – If you are taking your furry pal along on your adventure, plan your stops ahead by finding restaurants that at least allow pets to be leashed on the patio if not inside.
- – Beat the heat by applying sunscreen every 2-3 hours and sipping on some water or diluted juice every 15 minutes, even when swimming.
- – Do not drink alcohol if you intend to swim or go out sailing/boating.
- – Carry very little cash with you and preferably bills of lower denominations.
- – Make two copies of all important documents. Carry one along and leave the other at home.
- – Do not put your home address on your luggage tags.
- – Get information from the hotel front desk about the areas that should be avoided.
With these simple tips, you can make sure that you have a fun-filled and worry-free vacation, wherever you are headed. Many of these tips may be considered common sense but with so much planning involved in a family holiday, it can be easy to let safety take a back seat. Using these helpful tips will add protection for yourself and your fellow travelers, making your trip memorable for the best reasons not the disastrous ones.