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Take Your Sunblock—and an Emergency Plan
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Jenny Brennan
March 11, 2008

This month, thousands of people will travel to destinations near and far to enjoy Spring Break. Some will be seeking rest and relaxation; others will hope to find just the opposite.

Take Your Sunblock—and an Emergency Plan

Regardless of your definition of a good time, you can help ensure a safe trip by taking a few steps to become Red Cross Ready and be prepared for disasters and other emergencies. Leaving for vacation without taking the following actions would be like neglecting to pack a suitcase. So before you go, take a few minutes to prepare for the unexpected in unfamiliar surroundings.

Get a kit. Pack essential disaster supply items, such as high-protein snacks, water, a first aid kit, a flashlight, a battery-operated radio, extra batteries, and an emergency contact card with names and phone numbers.

Make a plan. Review the disaster plan and disaster safety procedures and precautions for the place where you will be staying. Check to see if the building is equipped with automated external defibrillators (AEDs), which can help save lives in the event of a cardiac arrest. Identify how you would get out of the building in case you need to evacuate in the event of a hurricane or fire. Also, locate safe places inside should you need to take cover during an earthquake or severe storm.

Compile a list of important numbers such as local hospitals and emergency responders (police, fire, etc.). Make sure your friends and family have these numbers as well. If you are traveling outside the United States, register with the U.S. Department of State.

Make sure family members or friends know your travel plans, where you will be staying, and how to reach you. In a disaster situation, be sure to register on the Safe and Well Website on RedCross.org so family and friends will know you are safe.

Be informed. Learn about the area you are visiting. Find out what types of disasters are likely to occur in the area, especially if they are disasters you have never experienced before.

Pay attention to the local weather forecast. Travel and weather Websites can help you avoid storm seasons, severe heat and other regional challenges that could affect your safety.

Find out how you would obtain information in the event of a disaster. Research the local radio stations and emergency alert systems.

Staying Safe on the Beach

While on Spring Break, be sure to follow these basic water, sun and beach safety tips.


  • Always swim with a buddy; never swim alone. Always swim in an area with a lifeguard.
  • Be aware of the water environment and its potential hazards, such as deep and shallow areas, currents and depth changes.
  • Enter the water feet first.
  • Do not mix alcohol with swimming or any water activity.
  • Protect your skin with sunscreen. Use a product with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 and reapply it often. Limit the amount of direct sunlight you receive between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.
  • Take frequent breaks and drink plenty of water.

Taking action to get more prepared can be as easy as booking your airline ticket. But unlike frequent flyer miles, you’ll be rewarded with a safer spring break.

For additional water safety tips and information on personal emergency preparedness packs and first aid kits, visit RedCross.org">RedCross.org.

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross provides relief to victims of disasters at home and abroad, collects and distributes nearly half of the nation's blood supply, teaches lifesaving skills, and supports military members and families. The American Red Cross, a charity and not a government agency, depends on voluntary contributions of time, money and blood to perform its humanitarian mission.

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