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Planning a Vacation? Make an Emergency Plan for Peace of Mind

by Staff

It’s that time of year when many of you plan to take a vacation. You select your destination, make your reservations, and decide what to take with you ─ clothes, toiletries, sunscreen ─ all the essentials.

But one thing you may forget, or even think isn’t important, is planning for any emergency that could arise while you’re away. The American Red Cross urges everyone to be truly prepared for their trip by including a vacation emergency plan. If an emergency occurs at your destination, you will be in a strange area, putting you and your fellow travelers more at risk. These emergencies may be natural disasters, but could also be a power outage, a fire, or even something like an active shooter situation.

Here are some steps you can take to help you stay safe if something happens:


  • In the Notifications setting on your cell phone, make sure “emergency alerts” are turned on.

  • Download the FREE Red Cross Emergency app for weather alerts, open Red Cross shelter locations and safety steps for different emergencies. Choose whether you want to view the content in English or Spanish with an easy-to-find language selector. Find these and all of the Red Cross apps in smartphone app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to

  • Let family and friends know your itinerary and how to reach you. Include where you will be visiting, staying, and be sure to let them know if your plans change.

  • Make copies of your travel documents and keep electronic copies as backups.

  • Make sure the people in your group know everyone’s cell phone numbers and other emergency contacts. Select an out-of-area person to contact in case your group is separated during an emergency and local phone lines are overloaded.

  • Pack a small emergency supply kit to include water, snacks, first aid kit, flashlight, travel size battery operated radio, extra batteries and an emergency contact card with names and numbers.

  • Don’t forget to pack extra supplies such as prescription medications, baby needs etc.

  • If your plans include international travel, register with the U.S. State Department through the free Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.


  • Check the forecast for your destination, and the routes if you are traveling by car.

  • Learn county names you are going through or at your destination. Weather warnings are normally issued by county emergency managers.

  • Don’t use social media to let people know where you are. Advertising you’re away is an open invitation to thieves.

  • Keep your wallet in your front pocket ─ not your back pocket ─ to make it harder for pickpockets.


  • Credit card skimming is still a danger. Criminals attach these devices to card payment terminals to steal your card’s information. If your card has a chip, swipe that instead, it’s safer.

Hotels, Motels

  • Stay in places that have hard-wired smoke alarms and an automatic fire sprinkler system in each guest room.

  • Read the evacuation plan carefully.

  • Find the two closest exits from your room.

  • Count the number of doors between your room and the exits. This will help if you need to get out in the dark.

  • Know how to activate the building’s fire alarm.

Vacation Rentals

  • Make sure everyone knows the address where you are staying.

  • Check that there are working smoke alarms in every sleeping room, outside each separate sleeping area and on every level of the home.

  • There should be working carbon monoxide alarms on every level as well.

  • Everyone should know two ways out of every room if there is an emergency.

  • Make sure you can open all doors and windows that lead outside.

  • Know where fire extinguishers are located and how to use them.


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