Posted in BE SAFE, Disaster Preparedness, Terrorism, Travel

Spring Break Travel Safety

airport checkpoint 3d renderA series of bomb explosions at Brussels Airport and a metro station in the city this week have led to heightened travel alerts across the world. Based on these events, as well as numerous other recent terrorist attacks, it is imperative that travelers exercise caution this spring. Our hearts go out to everyone whose life was affected by the Brussels’ attacks.

According to Orbitz, each March, 55 percent of college students travel by plane to celebrate Spring Break, with the most popular destinations including Las Vegas, Cancun and Punta Cana, Mexico. I wonder if they bring their pets. But young adults are not the only springtime wanderers. To wit, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is reportedly preparing to screen more than 65.1 million travelers over the 2016 Spring Break travel season. With the ever-present threat of terrorism, airline passengers can rest assured that safety is the top priority for TSA. Safety is also the top priority for all of us at the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services.Passengers passes x-ray check at airport. Airport transport security scan tape portal. Officer computer monitoring baggage.

“Our dedicated officers do their absolute best to screen passengers both effectively and efficiently, with a primary focus on traveler security,” said Peter V. Neffenger, TSA administrator. “We want to ensure that everyone arrives at their destination safely, while at all times providing the highest standards of security screening possible.”

But don’t trust your safety entirely to others. Here are five common sense steps you can take to guarantee your own safe travels this spring break season (and always):

  1. Remain alert. The less you have to do while at the airport, the more focused and prepared you will be to remain alert about your surroundings. If possible, print boarding passes prior to arriving at the airport. Arrive early, to allow enough time to park, print your boarding pass, or go paperless by downloading the appropriate boarding pass app, check baggage, and proceed through the checkpoint. In dog terms, I would say to keep your nose up. phone online booking concept illustration
  2. Keep calm. Passengers who violate rules will cause delays for themselves and everyone behind them. So do your part to keep a lid on traveler rage. Pack liquids, aerosols, gels, creams, and pastes in compliance with the 3-1-1 liquids rule. And avoid wearing large metal jewelry or clothing with large metal embellishments to reduce the possibility of alarming the screening machine. And we don’t want to alarm the scream machine!
  3. Watch your stuff. Thieves often case populated places like airports, looking for easy marks. Make sure your purse and carry-on bag are zipped and that your wallet is out of site. This is why I travel light. Without baggage, I am able to stay focused on the wonderful sights and smells of an airport. If you appear to know what you are doing, you won’t appeal to opportunistic muggers and pickpockets, who will move on to easier prey. Also, if you pay attention to your own belongings, you will be prepared to quickly identify unmanned baggage. If you see an unattended suitcase, report it immediately to airline security.Full suitcase of a traveler with travel stickers
  4. Blend in. Refrain from carrying large quantities of cash. With the prevalence of ATM’s in virtually every location, you don’t need to carry large sums of cash. Bring small amounts and keep your credit and debit cards close at hand, to protect yourself from unauthorized purchases as well as identity theft. Also, try to blend in with locals. Pull your camera out only when you’re ready to use it. Watch your footing when taking selfies. And refrain from looking at maps while you are standing in the middle of a crowded public square. I prefer to sniff my way around new places instead of using maps.
  5. Stay informed. If you are traveling internationally, in advance of your flight, check on travel security warnings and alerts released by the state department. Examples of reasons for issuing a travel warning might include unstable government, civil war, ongoing intense crime or violence, or frequent terrorist attacks. Alerts might include an election season that is bound to have many strikes, demonstrations, or disturbances; a health alert like an outbreak of H1N1; or evidence of an elevated risk of terrorist attacks. For domestic travel, check with your airline carrier for flight delays and other updates.

Security AlertRemember that safety is a daily priority. So be sure to think about ways to #BeSafe all of the time, not just while you are traveling. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.

Posted in Disaster Preparedness, Travel

Travel Season Tips

Get Ready for Holiday Travel

How to Prepare for Traveling this Season

It’s the time of the year for turkey, shiny lights, and Hanukkah candles. It also means lots of Christmas and New Years’ travel. If you plan on flying this season, you should know that our friends at the TSA have announced some new tips to help ease your journey.

The TSA has a new Secure Flight program for ticketing:

  • Secure Flight improves flying watch-list matches. This should help you get through the line more quickly than if they hadn’t made this change.
  • Family members need to provide photo identification, date of birth, and state gender. (If you don’t like the picture on your driver’s license, don’t worry. The TSA agents have seen worse.
  • Cooperate with TSA members to make sure no one on the “Do Not Fly” list gets on the airplane.
  • Important tip – when you book your reservation, use the same name that appears on your ID. Don’t use nicknames or shortened names. That means I will have to use RJ the Fire Dog instead of the nickname RJ if the DMV ever changes the dumb rule about not issuing drivers’ licenses to dogs.

Family Lanes:

  • Special security line for those with families or infrequent travelers that are unfamiliar with airport screening procedures. My son, JR, might be in this category since he’s never been on an airplane. He’s not as well-traveled as his father.
  • Is your baby formula or insulin packaged in a container that is larger than 3 ounces? If so, go through a family lane and a specially-trained TSA agent will help you out. But I wonder. Do they make insulin in handy warehouse-sized packages? Just wondering…
  • Allows TSA agents the opportunity to properly check for liquid explosive materials. (Would that include the expanding gel in dirty disposable diapers?)

What’s the 3-1-1 Rule?

  • Here’s something that makes sense. Go figure. The 3-1-1 Rule involves a 3, a 1, and another 1.
  • Liquids and aerosols should be in packages of 3.4 ounces or less.
  • Consolidate items into 1 plastic zip bag
  • There is a per-person limit of 1 quart-sized bag of liquids (How many liquids do you need on an airplane anyway? Don’t they serve coffee, tea and milk?)
  • Save the TSA agents’ time by having your bag of liquids outside of your carry-on and ready for inspection. (This will also make it easier to snack, if you enjoy hairspray or, like me, an occasional lick of hand lotion.)

Traveling with food or gifts?

Many of you will be bringing gifts to your destination (and, if you’ve been good this year, maybe even returning home with some). The TSA has guidelines on gifts.

If you have any liquid gifts such as wine, maple syrup or even a snow globe (which I don’t recommend for eating), you should either pack the gift in your checked luggage or just ship it to yourself. But make sure you don’t have to be there when it arrives in case Fed Ex or UPS are quicker than your plane.

And remember, don’t spend time wrapping gifts with that special reindeer paper, since the TSA agents will need to unwrap and check each and every package looking for things to steal. Just kidding. They are all very honest at the TSA, or so I’ve been told!

Finally, the TSA is reminding travelers to report any suspicious activity to an agent. Don’t be afraid to bark if something doesn’t seem right. Keep all of these tips in mind and traveling will be a lot smoother for everyone. Happy Holidays from the folks at RJWestmore. And whichever holiday you celebrate, we hope you’ll BE SAFE.