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Tips for safe vacations

Jul 13, 2015 10:18AM ● Published by Neighbors Magazines

Sunscreen, check. Golf clubs, check. Emergency plan? If your summer vacation checklist doesn’t include emergency preparedness, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) encourages you to add this important step to your planning process.

A disaster can happen anytime, even while you’re on vacation. At home, you likely know what to do to stay safe. But in an unfamiliar setting, you and your family could be more vulnerable to harm. Take a few minutes to learn about potential hazards and how to stay safe if disaster strikes.”

People traveling to another region of the country or overseas should learn about natural and man-made hazards for the area they plan to visit. Even if your vacation spot is prone to dangers you’re familiar with, such as tornadoes and severe thunderstorms, dealing with those emergencies can be challenging in a new environment. 

When you arrive at your destination, identify safe locations for severe weather and find out how emergency warnings are communicated in the area, such as outdoor warning sirens or a public address system. If you have a newer smart phone, check to ensure the ‘Emergency Alerts’ option is enabled in your ‘Settings’ notification center.  This will allow you to receive geographically-targeted, text-like Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) messages about imminent safety threats in your current location.

To help travelers prepare for vacation, IEMA offers the following tips:

Before you leave

·        Pack a travel-size emergency supply kit with water, snacks, a first-aid kit, flashlight, small battery-operated radio, extra batteries and an emergency contact card with names and phone numbers.

·        Pack extra supplies of critical items, such as prescription medications and baby formula, in case your return is delayed by a disaster.

·        Let family and friends know your itinerary and how to reach you.

·        Make sure everyone has the cell phone numbers of others in your group.  Designate an out-of-area person to contact in case your group is separated during an emergency and local phone lines are overloaded.

·        If traveling internationally, register with the U.S. Department of State through a free online service at The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) enables the State Department to better assist U.S. travelers in an emergency.

During your trip

·        If traveling by car, check the forecast for your entire route before and during your trip. 

·        Bring along a travel weather radio, which will automatically switch to the weather radio station closest to your travel area and alert you to local weather warnings.

·        Become familiar with the names of the counties you are traveling through because weather warnings are issued by county.

If disaster strikes your vacation spot, you can register on the American Red Cross’ “Safe and Well” website at so family and friends will know that you are safe.

More preparedness information is available on the Ready Illinois website at

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