Monday, March 15, 2010

Spring Break Survival

Take it from a girl who knows, traveling abroad or anywhere can be an adventure or a disaster depending on how prepared you are. Another fellow traveler, Kiersten Regelin, has had several near-misses while traveling abroad, and her experiences are a constant reminder about how important it is for young people to know what disasters might occur in the area they're traveling during Spring Break. Kiersten’s travelled to approximately 40 countries, across most continents, mostly for adventure and pleasure. Some of her most interesting and riskier encounters include:
- The recent El Salvador landslide
- A flash flood in Latin America
- A flat tire in Patagonia
- A spill from a bike in remote area of Latin American which broke a thumb
- Almost got robbed in a phone booth in Paris
- A couple of near political upheavals in urban areas
- A few of illnesses associated with disease and food risks
- Travel to areas with active volcanoes, fault lines, and hurricane/typhoon/tsunami risks
- Travel to areas with a high incident of public transportation risks, such as Accra, Ghana
- And of course many, many scams

With Spring Break upon us, you may be looking forward to sand and sun at your exotic destination or while heading south stateside, but it is important to be aware of potential disasters in the area you are traveling to. In light of recent natural disasters in picturesque locales, American Red Cross of Greater Chicago has put together a list of important tips for travelers to facilitate preparedness on spring break vacations:

1. Know Your Risks

Learn what disasters or emergencies may occur in the area you are traveling to: check with The National Weather Service ( for risks in the U.S such as hurricanes or tsunamis, and read International Weather Forecasts to understand what might be in store for you abroad such as earthquakes or mudslides. From, you can also link to an online Be Red Cross Ready preparedness training course makes it easier than ever to get ready for emergencies.

2. Identify Local Authorities

Check with your accommodations and find out how the local authorities are prepared to handle a natural or man-made disaster in the area. When you are out of your regular environment, it is important to be aware of the new channels for information that you might be relying on.

3. Make a kit

Traveling light might be your goal, but be sure to bring along essentials such as bandages, medication and important documents that will be useful in case of a disaster. Having these resources available to you may make the difference in the hours it may take disaster relief to reach you. To see what should be in your kit, look at

4. Make a plan

Discuss with your travel group the plan in the case of an emergency. Choose a meeting place or a method of communication that you will wait for if you are split up by a disaster.

5. Take a class

Learning life-saving techniques such as CPR and having other disaster training can put you in a position to help out others in the situation that a disaster strikes. Taking a class at the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago can give you the preparedness you need to make a difference in an emergency. Check out to learn all of the options.

Have a safe and fun Spring Break everyone!
-By Cassandra Wilander, marketing and communications intern

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