We rarely think about staying safe while on the road but consider what happened to me on a recent trip. While it wasn’t serious, it had me rethinking safety while I travel.
It was a few minutes before 3 a.m. I pulled the shower curtain back and suddenly, as if I had also hit the lights, I was plunged into darkness. I flipped the switch but nothing happened. Maybe the bulb blew, I thought.
I’ve experienced blackouts before but at home, I have flashlights placed in every room. I was alone in my friend’s apartment and had no idea where flashlights, candles or matches were. I also had no clue what the number at the 24-hour reception desk was.
I felt a mild sense of panic inching up my back. Breathe, I thought to myself, breathe. Then I remembered the flashlight on my phone. Groping around, I found it on the dresser exactly where I’d left it.
I chuckled. Of all the times the power could go out, it’d have to choose the morning I had to catch a 6:30 flight. I didn’t have the time to think too much about it. My taxi was due to arrive in less than 30 minutes and I needed to finish dressing.
Suddenly, the light flickered on as unceremoniously as it had shut off. As soon as it did, though, the fire alarm began to wail.
I figured the outage had triggered the alarm but what do I know about these things? I looked out the corridor just to be sure. No fire, no smoke and more importantly, no fire trucks. I started to put on my shoes when the alarm stopped as abruptly as it had begun, making the silence feeling loud. Whew!
Quickly, I gathered my things and pulled my luggage to the elevator. I punched the button but nothing happened. Oh gosh, I thought, not the stairs! I was 9 flights up with 2 suitcases, a laptop bag and purse. Get with the program, I’m thinking, the stairs are your only option.
I left one suitcase and dragged the lighter one down to the lobby. As I suspected, the outage had triggered the alarm which then shut the elevators down automatically. Thankfully, the desk person said he’d turn the elevator back on so I didn’t have to climb 9 flights.
As I settled into the back seat of the taxi on that cool Toronto morning, I pushed away the thoughts that came unbidden to my mind. What if the blackout had lasted longer? What if that had been a fire? Why didn’t I find out where the flashlights were or the number for the front desk?
Security experts tell us that when we are travel, the first thing we should do is familiarize ourselves with our surroundings. But we need to do more than that. Here are a few other steps you can take to ensure you stay safe while you’re on the road.
- Plan your escape. In case of an emergency, know beforehand the best way to get to safety.
- If you’re staying in a hotel, apartment or private home, check whether your window opens to the street or ground floor and whether it can be used as a means of escape.
- If you’re on a higher floor, locate the nearest stairs and check to see where they lead.
- If we’re traveling with others, have a designated meeting place and make sure everyone knows how to find it.
- Most importantly, breathe deeply and try to stay calm. Staying calm and focused will help you think quickly on your feet.
Staying safe while on the road should really start before you leave home. Whenever I travel, I alert my neighbors, friends and family so they can keep an eye on out. A simple thing as having your lights programmed to go on and off at different times can indicate to someone that your place is occupied. Since I’m away so often, I’m also contemplating installing a security system as one of my travel writer friends has done. She uses a simon xt and as she points out quite often, whenever she leaves she knows it’ll be keeping things safe at home.
What other tips do you have to stay safe while on the road? How do you keep your property secure when you’re away?