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Holiday Safety Tips

December 3, 2011
By KIM LOCCISANO - Times Leader Staff Writer ( , Times Leader

Safety first. Yes, even during the busy holiday season, this is an important aspect of everyday life to keep in mind.

Regarding holiday safety issues, there is much more to them than remembering to lock your house and all vehicles, to park and walk in well-lighted areas,and to never leave gift items in plain view of anyone walking casually past your car, even when parked at home on the street, in your driveway or even the garage.

Thanks to today's still fragile economy and down job market, many families who would have flown together in past years to see relatives and friends during the annual holidays will either be staying home or only a part of the family will travel.

The direct result is more and more children under the age of 18 are flying solo, directly increasing the potential for personal harm.

Experts from all levels recommend parents make a point of educating themselves and their children well in advance about what measures can reasonably be taken to make the experience of traveling alone be a positive and memorable event from start to finish.

Safety experts at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children offer a wide array of information designed to help the average consumer successfully tap into sound information when trying to take steps toward preparing the family for a trip whether the destination is three miles away or 3,000 miles.

Safety experts are quick to remind us criminals of all types are quick to exploit a person's sense of excitement at this time of year that can result in simple distractions increasing a person's vulnerability.

Law enforcement agencies nationwide make a point of reminding the public to always allow plenty of time for basic safety details like locking doors, keeping keys, money receipts, and wallets in-hand while shopping , not putting things down on a car or in a shopping cart while loading items and getting keys in-hand before stepping outside, whether from a store or your home.

Criminals don't somehow miraculously disappear during the holidays, in fact, for many it is their busiest season.

Unfortunately, the holidays can often provide easier than usual access to potential victims for criminals, whether petty thieves, kidnappers, or worse.

Taking the idea of personal safety to heart is always a good idea, and certainly one parents should be comfortable sharing with children.

The idea is not to heighten a youngster's fears, but to head children into habits to help keep them as safe as possible on a day to day basis from childhood through adulthood.

Preparing children for air travel such as a solo flight-being an unaccompanied minor on a commercial flight-are life lessons which will serve them well.

There are a few standard policies parents should know in advance of making travel arrangements for an unaccompanied minor: all require a child be at least five years old; some airlines will not allow a child less than eight years old to fly unaccompanied if it is not a direct flight; some charge an escort fee for unaccompanied minors needing to make connecting flights.

Most airlines do allow children 12 and over to fly unaccompanied.

Here are tips from industry experts aimed at helping the travel process go smoothly for all.

Advance trips to airports and to the known gates is never a bad call, say experts.

Take a tour of the gate area and consider introducing the child to some of the airline employees in the area and ask them to explain the basics of the flying experience, the goal being helping lessen apprehension about the unknown.

Parents might do well to arrive at the departure area in advance of the suggested time offered by the airline for adult travelers, and making sure to allow enough time to fill out mandatory paperwork to comfortably pre-board your child on the plane.

It is never a good idea for adults to leave a departure area until after the plane has left, in case of delays, as your child will be much more at ease with you in the area. This is also helpful for all if a flight should be unexpectedly canceled or redirected.

Children should have a carry-on piece of luggage or backpack to hold essentials such as identification, medications, reading materials and games. Children can use hand-held video games when attendants give permission, but games should not be noisy or likely to be considered intrusive by other passengers. Remote control toys are not allowed on planes.

Parents should put a child's photo identification and any medications in an envelope for safekeeping and put it inside their carry-on luggage or backpack.

Basic safety rules for children to observe can easily begin with the all important introduction of a flight attendant as the adult on the plane as the person to ask for help in learning to use a call button or if they need help with something during the flight.

An important part of making a child's unaccompanied flight comfortable will come from the ease shown by a well informed and prepared parent.

One part of a parent's preparation process can be connecting with reliable sources of information so they will have gotten all information easily accessible to turn over to safety personnel should an emergency situation happen, or is thought to be happening.

One of the best sources of information concerning a child's introduction to safe holiday travel habits and for getting parents prepared in advance of any problems as well can be found at



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