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10 Summer Travel Safety Tips You Need to Read

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Sunscreen? Check. Lifejacket? Check. You know the drill. But when it comes to staying safe on your summer vacation, there are other hazards you may not have thought about. These 10 summer travel safety tips will help keep you out of trouble in the water, in the woods and on the road.

Beach and Pool Safety Tips for Your Summer Vacation

Drowning is quiet. Everyone thinks that people who are drowning yell, thrash and splash. They don't. The most crucial pool safety tip is that drowning doesn't look like drowning, as former boat captain Mario Vittone explains. People in serious distress lose their ability to call out for help or wave. Instead they hover upright at the surface of the water with their head tilted back and mouth open, gasping or hyperventilating.

Being nearby is not enough. Vittone tells a story about a 9-year-old girl who was drowning in the ocean just 10 feet from her parents. They didn't notice her distress until she was saved by a lifeguard. And this isn't unusual: the CDC says that about half of child drownings take place within 25 yards of an adult.1 It may be tempting to dive into a magazine or a cocktail while you're sitting poolside, but if young children are around you should stay focused on them.

Sharks like sandbars. Compared to other summer vacation safety threats, shark attacks are extremely unlikely. However, they do happen: by July 2015, 11 shark attacks had been reported in North and South Carolina.2 Here are a few summer safety tips for avoiding sharks:

  • Don't swim at dawn or dusk, or after heavy rains.
  • Don't swim near fishing piers, where sharks may be attracted by bait.
  • If you see small fish schooling and jumping out of the water, a shark may be nearby.
  • Sharks are attracted to mouths of rivers, channels, deep drops and areas between sandbars.
  • Watch for purple flags, which indicate sharks, jellyfish or other dangerous marine life.

Campground and RV Safety Tips for Your Summer Vacation

Check your detectors. Kampgrounds of America (KOA) recommends you have three separate detectors in your RV: a smoke alarm, a carbon monoxide detector and a propane leak detector. RVs are particularly susceptible to filling with deadly, odorless carbon monoxide when generators are running and exhaust pipes malfunction.3 And the need for a smoke alarm is obvious: Just like at home, you may leave the stove on, or a candle burning, and start a fire.

Steer clear of wildlife. Many wild animals are drawn to campgrounds because they can forage in trash or snag snacks from tourists. Every year brings news accounts of people being attacked on their summer vacation by animals like bears and bison. This video of a massive alligator creeping into an unoccupied tent will give you goosebumps. The key thing to remember is that most animal attacks are provoked. Never, never feed or harass wildlife, even if you see other people doing it. And remember that bees, deer, dogs and cows kill a lot more people than alligators and bears.

Spray your shoes. Picking off a few ticks used to be a normal rite of summer vacation. Now it's cause for alarm, as scientists have discovered more than 14 diseases spread by ticks, including Lyme disease, babesiosis and powassan virus. Ticks are spreading, and reports of disease have shot up. How can you keep your family safe? Science writer Melinda Wenner Moyer recommends spraying children's and adults' shoes with permethrin and doing daily tick checks.

Summer Travel Safety Tips

Use the teddy-bear system. No parent ever thinks he or she would leave a child locked in a car. But tragically, children die from heatstroke in hot cars every year, often because a distracted parent simply forgets the child's in the back seat. To prevent this, keep a teddy bear in the child's safety seat. When the child's buckled in, move the teddy to the front seat as a reminder that the back seat is occupied.

Plan to keep pets safe during summer travel. Like young children, pets are vulnerable to dying when left in hot cars. Even when the outside temperature is 60 degrees, the sun can raise it to 110. If your dog is coming along on your summer vacation road trip, plan ahead for how you'll keep him cool. Can you pack picnic lunches, or find restaurants that allow dogs on the patio? What will you do if you need to run an emergency errand?

Don't overload your rooftop carrier. Can't fit the kids, the beach chairs and all the suitcases in your vehicle? A rooftop carrier makes packing for your summer vacation much easier. But don't stuff it to the gills. Read the car's manual first to figure out the weight limit for the roof rack. And remember that adding rooftop cargo raises the center of gravity, which can cause an SUV to sway or become less stable on the road.

Consider travel insurance. If your summer vacation travel plans include a cruise or air travel, travel insurance is a must-buy. Not only can it assist you with annoyances like lost luggage or delayed flights, but travel insurance can also provide emergency medical coverage and emergency medical transportation when traveling overseas. Safe travels!

Richmond-based travel writer Muriel Barrett has a terrible sense of direction, and has spent many happy hours getting lost in Barcelona, Venice and Jerusalem. Her favorite travel memories all involve wildlife: watching sea turtles nest in Costa Rica, kayaking with seals in Vancouver and meeting a pink tarantula in Martinique.

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Jun 15, 2016