Friday, December 16, 2011

Holiday Travel...WITH KIDS

Guest Blogger: C4L Instructor Scott Allison

Ah! The holiday season is upon us. Egg nog, houses decorated for the holidays, classic holiday movies (my personal favorite is A Christmas Story!), spending time with family, and travel. If you are like me, travel means traveling with kids. Any parent can attest to the fact that traveling with kids can be a daunting task during any time of the year, but can be even worse during the holiday season. Why can the holiday season be so awful for traveling with kids? Stress, obviously, but also the winter season plays a major role. Winter brings up thoughts of snowball fights, watching the kids make snow angels, sledding down a large hill (local golf courses are great places for that). Winter, for me, brings up thoughts of people forgetting how to drive in the snow, watching for snow plows, driving more carefully because of wet/frozen roads, and preparing the car with a preparedness kit…not just for a preparedness kit for the car, but also for the kids.

Preparedness kits for the cars are fairly simple to put together. According to the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) Division of Traffic Safety, a car kit should include the following: a flashlight, blankets, candles, matches/lighter, empty tin can to hold the lit candles, water, extra gloves, ice scrapers, sand or kitty litter, flares, first aid kit, jumper cables, and non-perishable food. I personally recommend a collapsible snow shovel, a hand-held can opener, a set of snow boots, motor oil, and antifreeze. Some of the things in the car kit should be self-explanatory. Some of the items may not make a lot of sense at first. For instance the sand or kitty litter, these are great items to use to regain traction in places where traction is at a premium (i.e. a road with black ice). Extra gloves can come in handy in case you need dig out the car and you don’t have a shovel handy. You may ask “Why water?” Well it may freeze, but at least while it thaws you can still have liquid refreshment for your body. You could also include some Gatorade/Powerade/Propel for the people in the car and save the water for the car itself just in case you need it. Non-perishable food means granola bars, Pop-tarts, nuts, canned veggies/fruits, cereal, cereal bars, and other foods like that.

Preparedness doesn’t stop with the car. It continues with the kids. There are two different kits you should have available for the kids. The first kit is the parents’ survival kit for the car. This kit should include anything and everything the kid(s) would need to occupy themselves in the car so you don’t hear the dreaded “are we there yet” question 15,000 times in a four hour trip to Aunt Sandy’s condo. For example, videos, portable DVD player, game system (fresh batteries are a must), coloring books, crayons, washable markers, and picture books or novels (dependent on kid(s) age(s). The kid(s) should also have a disaster preparedness kit to take with them when they travel. It can be as simple as a backpack with some if not all of the following items: portable weather radio with a set of fresh batteries, flashlight, list of emergency numbers, granola bars or other similar non-perishable food items, water bottle, money, identification card, medications, insurance information, letter stating that those caring for the kid(s) can authorize medical care, baby wipes, and diapers if traveling with infants. A couple extra sets of clothes wouldn’t be a bad idea either. All of these things would be very beneficial not only to the immediate family, but also to those who are caring for the youngsters at the time.

So as you prepare for the holiday travel season keep the information stated above in mind especially if you are traveling with children. It may take a few extra minutes to prepare the kits, but those few extra minutes could be the difference between life and death.

Have a safe, happy, and joyous holiday season!