As millions of Americans take to the skies, rails and highways to visit loved ones for the Thanksgiving holiday, Mother Nature is threatening severe weather in many parts of the country. The American Red Cross offers travel tips to help holiday travelers arrive safely at their destination.
Some parts of the west could see up to four feet of snow, with several of inches of rain and high winds predicted for areas from coastal Oregon to Montana. In the midwest, several inches of rain are called for from the Central Plains to the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley. Rain and severe thunderstorms are expected all across the south, and the Mid-Atlantic and New England regions could see several inches of rain, snow and freezing rain.
Airports, bus and train stations are crowded with Thanksgiving travelers, but most holiday travelers get to where they are going by car. Many make same-day trips to visit friends and family for the day.
To arrive safely, the Red Cross recommends these safety steps for Thanksgiving travelers who will drive to visit their loved ones this year:
- Make sure your vehicle is in good working order.
- Start out with a full tank of gas, check the air pressure in your tires and make sure you have windshield fluid.
- Buckle up, slow down, don’t drive impaired.
- Be well rested and alert.
- Use caution in work zones.
- Give your full attention to the road. Avoid distractions such as cell phones.
- Observe speed limits – driving too fast or too slow can increase your chance of being in a collision.
- Make frequent stops. During long trips, rotate drivers. If you’re too tired to drive, stop and get some rest.
- Be respectful of other motorists and follow the rules of the road.
- Don’t follow another vehicle too closely.
- If you plan on drinking, designate a driver who won’t drink.
- Clean your headlights, taillights, signal lights and windows to help you see, especially at night.
- Turn your headlights on as dusk approaches, or if you are using your windshield wipers due to inclement weather.
- Don’t overdrive your headlights.
- If you have car trouble, pull off the road as far as possible.
It’s also recommended that you keep an emergency preparedness kit in the vehicle. Useful items include water, snacks, a flashlight, first aid kit, extra cash and blankets. The Red Cross Deluxe Auto Safety Kit is a great solution to help people prepare for emergencies on the road and is available in the Red Cross Store at www.redcrossstore.org.
For people traveling by air, bus or train, the Red Cross reminds them that the seasonal flu can occur as early as October. If you have come in contact with someone who is sick, perhaps the trip should be postponed as you may be contagious for a week before symptoms appear.
Other safety tips to avoid the flu while you travel include the following:
- Remember that everything you touch has to be touched by someone else – luggage handlers, etc. Handle your own belongings as much as possible. Wash your hands often with soap and water.
- Carry hand sanitizer and anti-bacterial wipes with you. You can use them to wash your hands or wipe down surfaces such as armrests.
- Bring your own pillows and blankets – they can act as a shield against the seat itself.
- If you have to cough or sneeze, do so into a tissue or your sleeve.
- Avoid touching your face or eyes.
For more information on how to remain safe while traveling this Thanksgiving, visit www.redcross.org.