Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Holiday Travel Precautions and Recommendations

National Domestic Preparedness Coalition Global Center for Threat, Risk, and Vulnerability

To: NDPCI Member 

Subject: Holiday Travel Safety

Brief: NDPCI member Cpl. Marcus Camacho FCPP, FCP Orange County Sheriff’s Office, passed along the following information regarding holiday travel. The brief provides simple precautions and recommendations to make holiday travel safe. This information can be passed along across agencies and can be provided directly to the community. The NDPCI Staff wishes all of our members a safe and happy Thanksgiving.

Holiday Travel Precautions and Recommendations 

1. Suspicious activity should be reported. You may do so by calling 9-1-1 for any emergency.

2. Lock your vehicle. During the holiday period there are increased incidents of stolen valuables. These items may include GPS, cell phones, loose change, and compact discs to name a few; due to unsecured vehicles.

3. Do not announce on your email auto response that you are on vacation with the dates you are leaving or returning. This includes both work and personal emails. If you must leave an auto response reply it should contain as little information as possible. Example: I am currently away and periodically checking my emails. If you need an immediate response, please contact Jane Doe at 407-555-5555.

4. Set your vehicle alarm if you have one.This may be an excellent time to review the code for any vehicles that are equipped with “LoJack" systems.

5. Do not announce to the whole community that you will be gone on vacation. This would include by word of mouth, voice mail and social networking sites (Facebook, My Space, Twitter, etc). Only let a few select and trusted friends or family members know so they can check your home for you.

6. Do not update your travel plans on social networking sites. Example: We are having a blast in the islands ... we go snorkeling tomorrow. Wishing you were here. See you in two weeks.

7. Turn down the ringer on your phone so it can't be heard from the outside.

8. Periodically retrieve your home messages so your voice mail does not get full. This could be another indicator you are not home.

9. Do a maintenance check of your alarm system prior to your departure. Make sure the alarm company has updated contact information to include how to reach you as well as a trusted friend or relative in the area.

10. Contact your local law enforcement agency to notify them that you will be out of town. Many offer house check services.

11. Stop all deliveries to include parcel packages and newspaper delivery.

12. Have a trusted neighbor or friend do the following:
       a. Park a spare vehicle in your driveway while you are away.
       b. The first preference is to have your mail stopped. The second option is to have a friend/neighbor check and retrieve your mail.
       c. Place trash in front of your home on trash day and then remove the receptacle.
       d. Periodic walks and inspections around your home.
       e. Pick up any newspaper deliveries. (The preference is to have it stopped)
       f. Check the front door for unsolicited fliers, bills and parcel packages left at your front door. Have them remove these items.

13. Place interior/outdoor lights, televisions and radios on timers. Make sure your lights are timed for appropriate hours.

14. Unplug your garage door opener and lock the rails from the inside.

15. Inspect your home prior to departure and make sure all windows and doors are locked and secure. This should also include storage areas.

16. Make sure you secure outdoor items such as bicycles, toys, outdoor grill, etc.

17. Unplug all appliances to include TV, stereos, computers, toasters, and microwave ovens to prevent damage during electrical storms.

18. Make sure the last person out of the house locks the door. Then make a check of the outside to make sure everything is secure.

If you are interested in safety tips while you are traveling (car, plane, hotel, theme parks) you can go to our website at http://www.ocso.com/ and go to Tourist Tips (left side tab). These tips are designed for area travelers but many can be used anywhere.

Safe Traveler Program: If you are traveling outside of the country we recommend you visit http://travel.state.gov! Please check for travel advisory or warnings for that specific country or region you will visit on your vacation. It will provide information on the status of that area.
We also highly recommend that you register your visit abroad with the nearest consulate or embassy at Smart Traveler.

The consulate or embassy can get a hold of you in an emergency, assist you if you are injured or the victim of a crime or alert you to changes in the country or area status.

Avoid those delays and that confusion at the airport. Know Before You Go! Prior to air travel please visit: http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/travel/vacation/kbyg/ .

Make sure you view the top 10 traveler tips from DHLS prior to travel.

Other things to consider while traveling:

1. Always let a trusted family member know your travel plans. This would include departure and arrival times whether you travel by car, plane or any other form. If your plans change or get delayed, let someone know.

2. Also remember that what may be customary to you may be an insult in another country. Please take the time to learn about the culture and area you will visit.

3. Always check with your health insurance to see if you are covered in the country you are visiting. You may need to consider some type of travel insurance.

4. Always check with your auto insurance carrier to see if you are covered in another state or country for auto accidents and what insurance coverage may or may not be available. You may need to consider some type of additional insurance. Also check with your credit card provider for alternatives on insurance.

5. Always check to see if needed prescriptions are available. Be aware that other travel destinations may use a different measuring system. Check with your physician on alternatives.

6. WARNING: The use of substitute medication in another country that is not recognized by the FDA or other medical organizations may cause adverse effects to include death. Always check with your physician.

7. Be aware that some medications prescribed in the U.S. may not be legal in other countries and some medications prescribed in other countries may not be legal or recognized in the U.S.

8. Avoid "Bill Shock." Always check with your cell phone provider to see what coverage, if any, may be received in another state or country and what charges may apply. This would include text messaging, Internet use, etc. Some options may include a phone card, pre-paid cell phone, or a temporary rental at your arrival destination. If you truly want to stay or need to be in touch, many companies offer satellite or cell phones that may be rented.

9. Always check with your credit card company or bank to make sure your card will work in a foreign country. Refrain from using the debit option in another country.

10. When making a purchase out of state or out of country, always check with the retailer on returns, refunds or exchanges. It is best to shop at a recognized national or international chain or at a business that has a clear policy on returns, refunds or exchanges.

11. Unsolicited Fliers at your hotel: A major hotel chain will never leave any unsolicited material under your room door without the official hotel name or logo. Many unsolicited material will usually be a food product not endorsed by the hotel. Many times unsolicited material left under your room door is a scam. For recommendations on dining in the area you visit, always check with the front desk or concierge.

When you arrive home:

1. Notify your law enforcement agency that you are home.
2. Resume your mail, paper delivery, and subscriptions.
3. Inspect your home both interior and exterior for any possible criminal activity or acts.
4. Plug in your garage door but , ensure that you have removed all external locking devices.
5. Immediately inspect all billing statements to ensure their accuracy.

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