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How prepared are You for your Long Distance Road Trip?

If you’re planning a lengthy road trip, there are many things you’d never think to bring with you that could get you out of a crisis situation. You need way more than just that blanket in the trunk, car jack and spare tire, umbrella, rainproof poncho, utility tool and fire extinguisher.

041Weather

  • Sunglasses, sunscreen, wide brimmed hat
  • Cold climate: thermal underwear, wool/hat/scarf/mittens, chemical heat packs, snow boots, windshield de-icer, cat litter (cheaper and lighter than sand, will give traction to a vehicle stuck in snow/ice)

Accident/Vehicle Breakdown

  • Flares, reflective warning triangles
  • “Call Police” sign. This goes against the rear window with the message facing motorists approaching from behind. If a predator sees a stranded female motorist, he’ll be tempted to stop and assault her. But if he sees the “Call Police” sign, he has no idea if another motorist called the police and the cops are only two minutes away.
  • Head lamp (will come in handy for changing a flat tire in the dark)
  • “LifeHammer” type tool: It slices through seatbelts and smashes through glass.
  • Paperwork: auto insurance card, medical card, list of important numbers, paper pad, pen
  • First aid kit
  • The auto emergency kit should include batteries, jumper cables, antifreeze, tire inflator, tire gauge, foam tire sealant, duct tape, flash light and glow sticks.

Self-Defense

  • Pepper spray
  • Ear horn, whistle

For Being Stranded

  • Spare water
  • Food designated for emergency use: nutrition or energy bars in a flavor you don’t like, and a few cans of dog food. Often, stranded motorists eat through their emergency food too quickly. This won’t happen if you’re looking at that gritty-tasting low carb bar or Liver Chunks dog food.
  • Small mirror (to reflect sunlight to search-and-rescue aircraft)
  • Toilet paper, sanitizing wipes, garbage bag, wire ties, urinal
  • Spare sneakers and socks

Miscellaneous

  • Car compatible phone charger, preferably solar and hand crank powered (in a separate article of mine, I discuss numerous great apps for your smartphone when driving long distance)
  • Often, before people embark on a long road trip, they have weeks, sometimes months of advance notice (such as for a move or vacation). During that time, you should commit to getting as physically fit as possible. You just never know what demands will be placed upon your body as a result of some mishap during your road trip. For example, a physically fit body can better withstand walking for long periods in the heat while carrying a toddler and rucksack than can a de-conditioned body.
  • Also during that time, take self-defense lessons.

Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen. See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video.

Must-have Apps for Safe Long Distance Driving

Whether you’re driving long distance to make a career move, visit family/friends, or just sightsee multiple states, you may be wondering what kind of helpful applications for your phone are out there.

045There’s just tons, and many fall under the category of convenience, such as apps that locate the cheapest gas stations, the nearest and cheapest lodging or your favorite restaurants. But this article is about safety and security.

The issue isn’t so much what particular app to install, but the type of app, what it does. For example, there are a number of weather applications out there. Which one is best? That depends on your needs and wants. But the important thing is that you know that the category of weather should be one of your app considerations for equipping your phone.

However, I will be mentioning some applications in particular, just to give you an idea of what’s out there. For instance, there’s the iMapWeather Radio application. This works even when your phone is asleep. It will arouse your phone to alert you if you’re nearing dangerous weather. This app automatically updates to wherever you currently are located.

Additional Apps for Road Travel

  • iTriage helps you figure out medications and medical conditions. It tells you where the nearest medical treatment centers are. You can also ask medical questions and get fast answers. So if, for instance, you notice that one of your legs has begun to swell and ache after you’ve been on the road all day, you can plug in this information and see what the likely cause is. As mentioned, there are numerous apps out there that fall into specific categories; review several before making your decision.
  • Another medical app worth mentioning is smart-ICE4family. Its features include: EMS-alert and location finder if the user becomes unconscious; in addition offers a piercing siren to help locate user; and a one-button-hit provides pre-existing medical information to first responders. If you think you might accidentally drive your car into a remote lake or ditch, this app is for you.
  • wikiHow explains how to resolve countless emergency situations. Chances are, whatever fix you’re in, this app covers it. It has over 140,000 how-to articles that explain resolutions for choking, animal attacks and surviving in the wilderness.
  • DriveSafe.ly is coming soon, designed to eliminate texting-caused accidents. It will read your text messages out loud. It will also read to you your e-mails. You also won’t need to touch your phone to respond.
  • Flashlight converts your phone to a flashlight. Need I say more?
  • Another category is “accidents.” If you don’t want to be overwhelmed by apps that seemingly have everything under the sun, such as the wikiHow, you can opt for applications that focus only on vehicular crashes, such as iWrecked.
  • For repairs, there’s RepairPal. You may also want to look into Collision Call.
  • Red Panic Button; the name speaks for itself. Another good app is iMPrepared.

Other categories that are must-haves for your long road trip are that of GPS and maps.

Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen. See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video.

Safety Tips for Lone Female Road Travelers

Rule #1 for women traveling alone: Do not look or act like prey, as this will grab the attention of any predator nearby. Looking like non-prey may be difficult for some women, but one way is to dress in black. Black is the color of authority (e.g., judges, nuns, priests, referees, police officers). Here are more rules:

042

  • Before embarking on your trip, get your car road ready by a trusted body shop.
  • Never give strangers a ride. If you’re tempted, ask yourself what their fate would be if you never crossed paths. Would they die? If not, ignore them and move on. You are not obligated to give anyone a lift, even if it’s “just a mile down the road,” even if the stranger is a woman. She might be a co-conspirator with a man to rob you, or just plain dangerous by herself.
  • To reinforce the don’t give strangers a ride rule, review possible scenarios before you leave for the trip. For example, you strike up a friendly conversation with a stranger at a diner who then offers to cover your meal, then says he/she needs a ride to the motel down the street. What would you do? Plan ahead your template response, then rehearse it.
  • Give someone your travel plans including complete itinerary before you leave.
  • Always be aware of every exit in any building you enter such as diners.
  • Don’t yap to anyone that you’re traveling alone, not even the nice lady pouring your coffee. If anyone says something like, “It must be scary, traveling alone,” and it’s obvious you’re alone, do NOT validate this comment! Say something like, “Actually, I’m not the least bit scared. I turn into a grizzly bear when threatened.” Rehearse this line so that it sounds like it’s true.
  • Do not carry a lot of cash; use your ATM card or credit card.
  • Leave the pricey jewelry and high priced designer handbag behind. Don’t wear clothes that suggest you have a lot of money. Do not wear any attention-getting attire.
  • Wear sneakers when driving. You can run easily in these and walk long distances. Forget the flip flops or pumps.
  • Never ask strangers for directions; only ask employees.
  • Don’t stand at the payment counter fishing through your stuffed purse to pay for gas or your meal. Have the money in your hands ahead of time and leave the purse hidden from view in your car.
  • Carry pepper spray on your person.

Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen. See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video.

Travel Safety – Part 3: 10 Must-Know Airplane Safety Tips

Since 9/11 we have all learned by example that coming together as a physical force we can overpower hijackers or air-raggers. Anyone becoming aware of a potential threat has a responsibility to make other passengers aware of the situation. Here are some basic airplane safety tips you should implement the next time you travel.

  1. 1.     Store your carry-on luggage across the aisle instead of over your head. You want to keep an eye on it. Otherwise someone can easily go into the overhead bin and remove your belongings. Never put a pocketbook under the seat. The person behind you can remove a credit card and you might not know it for a couple of days.
  2. 2.     Pay close attention to flight attendant instructions when aboard an aircraft.
  3. 3.     In the event of recognizing potential danger, first security steps include making the airplane crew aware, one on one.
  4. 4.     Depending on the volatility of the situation, it could be necessary to quickly bring attention to the cause by rallying passengers first.
  5. 5.     Use caution to avoid unnecessarily alarming others. For your personal safety, trust your gut and be careful to not escalate what could already be a volatile situation.
  6. 6.     Request window seats in a plane’s coach section. Hijackers often take hostages from first-class aisle seats.
  7. 7.     Request a seat next to the plane’s emergency exit. Each time you get on a plane review the instructions for opening the door. However, anyone who does not feel he or she could prevent a disgruntled passenger from opening an emergency exit during flight should not sit in these rows.
  8. 8.     If your plane is hijacked, do NOT make eye contact with the hijackers, which can increase the chances that you will be singled out for attention. Stay calm, follow directions, don’t argue, and don’t attempt heroics—at least not yet. These are desperate people.
  9. 9.     Don’t tell a stranger your plans. The accomplices of hijackers often disguise themselves as passengers.
  10. 10.  Even with security as tight as it is and all the security camera systems, be aware of potential weapons that can still be smuggled onto an airplane: explosives, pepper spray, razor blades, knives, and even guns made of metal or plastic. Undetectable by a metal detector, plastic, wood, and glass can all be shaped into sharp, lethal devices. In addition, plenty of items that belong on an airplane could be used as weapons, including hot water or coffee, serving carts, bags, blankets, headset cords, shoes, pens, batteries, and keys. Even the blunt end of a rolled-up magazine can be used to jab.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist toHome Security Source discussing ADT Pulse on Fox News. Disclosures

Planning To Travel Safely And Securely

Whenever you travel, “know before you go”.

“When you travel abroad, the odds are you will have a safe and incident-free trip. Travelers can, however, become victims of crime and violence, or experience unexpected difficulties. No one is better able to tell you this than the U.S. consular officers who work in more than 250 U.S. embassies and consulates around the globe. Every day of the year, U.S. embassies and consulates receive calls from American citizens in distress.”

I like Mexico. But Mexico has made the news over and over due to their “Narco Wars”. 10’s of thousands have been murdered and kidnapped in many of the border towns all the way down to Acapulco. So where do I vacation? Mexico. It’s an easy trip, its economically smart, it’s usually warm and sunny, the food’s good, the people are great, and there’s always a good story to tell. I do my homework and understand where the risks are and aren’t.

Despite the Travel Warning from U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE Bureau of Consular Affairs, I recently planned a trip to Acapulco. Specifically, Acapulco isn’t considered a high risk destination for Americans; the issues are primarily with Mexican on Mexican violence. And then an email alert came in “27 deaths, including 14 decapitated, rock Acapulco” “The image of this beach mecca has taken a new hit from Mexico’s drug violence, with 27 people killed in less than a day, including 14 men whose bodies were found with their heads chopped off at a shopping center.”

In a panic, I canceled that trip. Thank you for being so cool Delta Airlines! I didn’t cancel because of the threat of being decapitated; I canceled because the “energy” and thought of pure evil within an eyeshot would simply take the fun out of a vacation.

#1 Always visit Bureau of Consular Affairs at Travel.State.Gov. This is one of the best sites on the Internet for travel security awareness.

#2 Register with the US Embassy or Consulate and inform them and relatives of your exact travel plans. If your destination becomes unstable, the embassy will make you aware of the current climate. Know your options for medical care.

#3 Get your shots, including Hepatitis A and B and Tetanus/diphtheria vaccinations. Malaria and other intestinal virus can ruin a trip or even kill you.

#4 Get medical travel insurance. This doesn’t need to be complicated. Call your existing insurance company and see what your options are.

#5 Get trip insurance. With travel being so crazy hectic, manmade and natural disasters and people lives so complicated, there is a good chance you will need to cancel your trip.

#6 Ensure peace of mind when you travel with a home security system that you can monitor remotely.

Video is available through ADT Pulse which provides customers with anywhere, anytime access to their home via smart phones or personal computers, including an iPhone application to:

• Arm and disarm their home security system.

• Get notified of alarms and selected events via email and text messages as well as video clips.

• View their home through cameras and watch secure real-time video or stored video clips of events from monitored areas of the home.

• Access lights and appliances or set schedules to automate them.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to Home Security Source discussing  Home Security on NBC Boston.