College students will soon be heading out for their annual Spring Break destinations. While breaking away from studies and cutting loose is probably on the top of their lists--safety is probably foremost on their parents' minds. I have enough trouble worrying about how my kids stay safe at school, nevermind on a trek to another state or another country. Thankfully there are steps you can help your kids take and understand before landing at their vacation hot spots. Marcia Peot, full time police officer and Chief Safety Officer at StreetSafe, offers the following safety reminders:
Don’t let your guard down. Being on vacation is not an excuse to throw caution to the wind and do something you wouldn’t normally do or put yourself in an unsafe situation.
Research the place you are visiting before you go, especially if it’s a foreign country. Find out if there are dangerous areas you should avoid, familiarize yourself with local laws and customs, and know where to go and what to do in case of an emergency.
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Stay in groups or use a buddy system. You are more of a target when you are by yourself.
A stranger is still a stranger, even on vacation. Do not accept a ride or go off somewhere alone with a person you don't know.
Do not drink excessively. When you are intoxicated, your physical reflexes, awareness of your surroundings and ability to make decisions becomes impaired making you an easy target.
Never leave your drink unattended and do not accept beverages from anyone other than the bartender or waiter.
The beaten path is the better path. Stick to populated and well-lit areas, don't take short cuts, and familiarize yourself with the area before heading out.
Make sure your hotel room is locked at all times. Do not advertise your room number, or open the door to anyone you are not expecting. Do not bring strangers back to your room.
Upgrade your personal security. Streetsafe is a new mobile personal security system that uses your smart phone's GPS technology to instantly connect to help before a situation turns into an emergency. Street Safe's "Walk with Me" service offers a live connection to a professional Safety Advisor to keep you safe when walking in unfamiliar or threatening surroundings and instant access to 911 if needed.
It is of primary importance to talk with your "young adults" before they hit unfamiliar streets. Opening up the lines of communication (even if they think it's smothering) will go a long way in ensuring your kids' safety while they're away.
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Tara Weng is the national editor of parenting and health for GalTime. She is also a media consultant with a focus on medical and consumer topics. Her professional experience includes a stint as a medical/features producer at the NBC affiliate in Boston, MA and a media relations position at a top teaching hospital in Boston. Tara has also done public relations consulting work and has written for several online and print media outlets. She is a wife and a mother to two children (who are fantastic) and an enthusiastic New England sports fan.