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6 Updated Tips on Travel Safety In today’s world, sadly travelers may spend some time concerned about terrorist attacks. In reality, the dangers on travel are very much like those at home. Car wrecks, accidents and illnesses occur more often than either natural or man-made crises. Having just returned from the Mideast and Sri Lanka, here are six of my current tips.
6 Updated Tips on Travel Safety- Know What to Do in a Fire:
Tip One: Learn the best way out in case of a fir when you arrive at your lodging. In the past month, a London 5-star hotel, the Mandarin Oriental had a highly publicized fire. They had just had renovations and were in a key spot in the heart of the city. No one was injured, but press reports counted up to 120 fire fighters being called up to fight the blaze. A tall Dubai high rise had a sudden fire in recent past. Less well-known are the fires in small hotels at home and abroad. On a ski trip in Andorra, part of our group at a nearby hotel was evacuated in the dark of night when a fire broke out.
Even in cases where the risk is less likely, you must know what to do to be in safe in a fire. When I check into a hotel or B&B, I always look for the fire exit. Then I look to see how I could find it in the dark. (That is key since the electricity may go out.) Remember though if you are caught in a fire, test before touching a door or wall to see if it is hot. Take a wet towel to put across your nose and mouth if there is smoke. To be really prepared, before going to sleep, put your passport, room key and shoes by your bed. (If there is a false alarm and you have to vacate your room, you don’t want to be at the front desk with a long line of guests trying to get new room keys.)
6 Updated Tips on Travel Safety-Be Aware of Polluted Water:
Tip Two: Take care when it comes to drinking water. Contaminated water is a world-wide health risk. Many top hotels provide 1-2 bottles of water daily in guest rooms. (I always go to a mini-mart and/or supermarket on arrival and buy extra bottles of water as well as snacks.) Don’t forget if you can’t drink it, don’t use it for brushing your teeth or cleaning your tooth brush. If you like to sing in the shower, don’t forget and swallow the water in the midst of a tune!
Be aware that water served in restaurants may be “filtered” but not the same as bottled. When in doubt, ask for the latter. It is worth the investment. Avoid ice and fresh fruits and vegetables washed in polluted water. In really questionable places, drink directly from a bottle that only you have opened and broken the seal.
Tip Three: Watch out if swimming in “fresh” water that may have a host of health risks.
6 Updated Tips on Travel Safety-Dodge Airborne Risks:
Tip Four: Visit a travelers’ clinic before leaving home for shots and prescriptions. However, also do your own research. ut Learn all you can before you go abroad. Even living in Washington, DC with many tropicl disease experts, I have twice been surprised relying only on a travelers’ clinic and not researching on my own, too. Once I arrived on a small, remote island solo off the coast of West Africa only to find an unexpected cholera epidemic. I did wish though that I had checked it out in depth myself at home. On a second trip, I found out on arrival that Japanese encephalitis was not isolated but in many places I would go to. There was a vaccine available although likely not needed for my brief tour. In any case, I would have liked to have known more about this.
In sum, treat insect-borne diseases seriously. I buy pre-treated “bugs away” travel clothes. You can also spray clothes yourself. Wear long sleeves and long pants in malaria and other real danger zones. Pants with elastic cuffs are best. Even in real heat in malaria zones or other high risk areas, wear socks. Mosquitoes may feast at dawn and dust, but they can be a real threat all day. I use insect repellent as well on any bare spots.
6 Updated Tips on Travel Safety-Avoid Accidents:
Tip Five: If you are tired or jetlagged, you may be careless. Add to that, you can be distracted looking at new sights. As a result, accidents on mopeds and in cars can occur even more easily than at home.
People of all ages can trip and fall. I was surprised to learn from an emergency room nurse that even teenagers fall in the bathroom. Abroad and at times at home, I have found tubs or showers that were really slick. (If there is no grab bar, the less you move your feet the less likely you are to slip.) Beyond the shower, wet floors abound in restaurants and public spots. At home, a healthy 40-something told me of slipping on a wet floor in a restaurant and getting a broken nose and a concussion!
6 Updated Tips on Travel Safety-Don’t Be a Victim of Crime:
Tip Six: Pick lodging with security in mind. Carry a shrill police whistle to darw a crowd in an emergency. Watch out for train stations and top sights where pick pockets can slip in and out fast. Be aware if a stranger asks directions or other quries, they may be a two-man team. One distracts you while the other lifts your wallet. I actually saw the same ruse used in both Spain and Argentina. That must have been from the wonders of the Internet where it is easy to learn almost anything, even new crime tactics, from around the world! Lastly, travel light. Why? If you are dragging bags around, it is harder to get away when in danger. Also the more you have the more a thief may put you in his sights.