NJ residents urged to follow safety tips while on vacation

If you’re going on vacation this summer, whether it’s to the coast, to another state or to a foreign country, you are advised to follow a few simple safety guidelines.

Laurie Doran, director of New Jersey’s Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, said no matter where you’re going, even if your destination is in the United States, some degree of advance planning is important because sudden emergencies, although rare, can and does happen.

Don’t get stuck with no way out

“Let’s say you’re in a building or a mall, it’s good to look around and see where there might be exits, so if something were to happen, you could at least try to get to the right place “, says Doran.

Attention is essential.

“One of the things we focus on is people paying attention to their surroundings, so if something happens, you’re not there,” Doran said.

Photo by Mara Conan Design on Unsplash

Photo by Mara Conan Design on Unsplash

Location matters

When it comes to booking a room in a hotel, it is advisable not to stay in a ground floor room.

“We would recommend asking for rooms between the third and fifth floors if possible, because it’s a little more difficult for someone to break in when you’re too high off the ground,” Doran said.

If there’s a fire or other emergency, staying on that floor should help guests get out safely without the help of a fire truck, according to Doran.

Staying in the back of a hotel is also something people should try to do.

“Try to book a room at the back of the establishment because unfortunately traditionally when there have been significant problems, say an attack or a car bomb, they tend to explode in front of the hotel,” said said Doran.

Travelers should also be careful with their smartphones and any other devices they might take with them on the trip.

“Turn off your Bluetooth and avoid using public Wi-Fi and other people’s USB chargers because there are people out there who will try to steal your information,” Doran said.

For important documents like passports and credit cards, Doran suggests making copies and leaving them at home in case the originals are stolen or lost.

Where are the hospitals?

Doran said that before traveling abroad, travelers should check online for hospitals and emergency numbers.

“In the United States we use 911, while in other countries they don’t necessarily use it, like in India they have three separate emergency numbers.”

Registering with the embassy of the country you will be visiting through the US Department of State website is another thing travelers should consider doing.

“So in the unlikely event that something happens, the embassy will know you are there and they will be able to find you if something happens.”

Don’t be a walking target

Doran said that while terrorism is always a possibility, the biggest threat you’ll likely face in another country is theft.

“Having lived abroad for a good part of my life, Americans usually stick out like a sore thumb, and a lot of that comes down to how we dress,” she said.

Doran suggests travelers pay attention to and respect the customs of other countries.

The more time you spend researching and learning about the places you are traveling to, the better prepared you will be if something were to happen.

“We’re not trying to make people paranoid about travelling. We want them to enjoy what they do. It’s good to keep an eye on what’s going on,” Doran said.

David Matthau is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at david.matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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