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Traveling safe for Thanksgiving, holidays

Staff Report
Posted on 11/24/2015, 9:04 AM

With the Thanksgiving and Christmas coming up, many will be traveling by road and air. It is important to think about safety when doing so, whether you’re traveling abroad, or staying close to home.

Williamson County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Brian Murrah said that one of the most important things a motoring traveler can do during the holiday season is wear a seatbelt.

“[Not wearing a seatbelt] is a big part of any kind of traffic crash,” Murrah said. “If you’re wearing a seatbelt, the outcome of an accident would be much better.”

Thanksgiving, one of the busiest travel seasons of the year, is projected to see close to 47 million drivers on the road, between Wednesday and Sunday.

Travelers also need to be sure to keep track of the emergency numbers for the area where they are headed. “911” is the universal number for immediate and emergency police or fire assistance. For non-emergency assistance, phone numbers for the police department, sheriff’s department, or fire department for any area usually can be found online or in an area phone book.

The U.S. State Department offers tips to stay safe while traveling this holiday season.

1. Do not publicize your travel or vacation plans on social media.

2. Consider purchasing special clothing or accessories to hide your money, credit cards or passport. Keep the majority of your money in travelers checks and hidden. Use a money clip. If you are robbed, you may lose the money in the clip but will retain important credit cards and documents.

3. Let go of your bag if someone tries to snatch it.

4. At airports, proceed through security checks and go to the boarding area as quickly as possible. These areas are usually the most secure in the airport.

5. In a crowded situation, be aware of any crowding or jostling, even if it appears innocent. This is often a ploy by pickpockets to distract you.

6. If staying in a hotel, place valuables, such as money, jewelry, airplane tickets, credit cards or a passport, in the hotel safe deposit box.

7. Do not discuss your hotel room number while standing in the lobby, nor leave your room key on restaurant or bar tables.

8. When in your car, always keep your doors locked.

9. If you are being followed, never lead the person back to your hotel or stop and get out. Drive to the nearest police station or public facility.

10. When you park, look for a spot that offers good lighting.

The weather has an impact on traveling, too, so be sure and check the weather forecasts and road conditions. Before traveling, you should:

1. Keep your gas tank above half-full.

2. Check or have a mechanic check the following items on your vehicle …

-Antifreeze levels-ensure they are sufficient to avoid freezing.

-Brakes-check for wear and fluid levels.

-Exhaust system-repair as necessary. Carbon monoxide is deadly and usually gives no warning.

-Fuel and air filters-replace as needed.

-Battery and ignition system-make sure they’re clean and functioning properly.

-Heater and defroster-ensure they work properly.

-Lights and flashing hazard lights-check for serviceability.

-Thermostat-ensure it works properly.

-Windshield wiper equipment-repair any problems and maintain proper washer fluid level.

-Install good winter tires-make sure the tires have adequate tread.

Have an emergency supply kit for your car in case it's needed. Include the following items:

1. Jumper cables-consider including flares or reflective triangles.

2. Flashlights-with extra batteries.

3. First aid kit-remember any necessary medications, baby food or diapers.

4. Food: non-perishable food such as canned food, and protein rich foods like nuts and energy bars.

5. Manual can opener.

6. Water-at least 1 gallon of water per person a day for at least 3 days.

7. Basic toolkit-pliers, wrench, screwdriver.

8. Radio-battery or hand cranked.

9. Cat litter or sand-for better tire traction.

10. Shovel.

11. Ice scraper.

12. Clothes: warm clothes, gloves, hat, sturdy boots, jacket and an extra change of clothes for the cold.

13. Blankets or sleeping bags.

14. Charged cell phone and car charger.

15. Pet supplies-food and water.