SIDNEY — The snow is melting, the flowers are popping through the ground. It must surely be time for spring break.
In his weekly interview, Shelby County Sheriff John Lenhart discussed some safety tips if you’re planning a trip within the next few weeks — or even a family vacation this summer.
“Wherever you’re going to go,” said Lenhart, “you need to decide if you’re flying, driving or staying at home and doing day trips.
“Next you have to decide where you’re going and what you want to do once you get there. Make intelligent decisions when planning your trip.”
Lenhart recommends making a list of where you want to go. Then you need a list of everything that needs to go on the vacation.
“Do your lists upfront so you’re prepared,” said Lenhart.
He encourages people to plan in advance as usually there are travel deals available for the trips.
“Book your reservations early,” said Lenhart. “Travel on a nonweekend day and it will be less cost to you. And this year — because of the coronavirus — you might want to take out travel insurance. If the airline cancels the flight, you’d be reimbursed. But if you cancel you won’t be reimbursed unless you have insurance.”
Lenhart also encouraged travelers to pack the essentials — a change of clothing and all medications you need — in a carry-on bag when flying.
“My wife and I went to Washington, D.C., two weeks ago,” said Lenhart. “Normally I have a carry-on. This time I didn’t and the airline lost our luggage. We got it back two days later.”
Other safety tips offered by Lenhart include:
• Protect your home. Don’t post on Facebook that you’re going on vacation and how long you’ll be gone. Talk to your neighbors to let them know you’ll be gone.
• Make your reservations — both hotel and restaurant — early You might be able to save a few dollars by making the reservations early. And some restaurants are booked months in advance and need to be booked early.
• Separate your cash and credit cards into two stacks. Carry one and put the other one someplace safe until you need it. Lenhart said he’s had a credit card compromised and was glad to have the backup.
• When arriving at your vacation destination, dress like the locals. “If you travel out of the country, the attire we wear doesn’t much blend in with the locals,” he said.
• If you’re drinking adult beverages, be responsible.
• Don’t be distracted while you are walking around. Pick-pockets like distracted people.
If you’re diving to your vacation location — or renting a car after flying there — you should always wear a seat belt, said Lenhart. Children 13 years and younger should ride in the back seat. If the child is under 8 years of age or less than 4 foot, 9 inches tall, always make sure you have the correct child safety seat in the vehicle.
When checking into your hotel, put the hotel’s phone number, address and your room number into your cellphone.
“I also pick up a business card and put it in my pocket,” said Lenhart.
When booking your hotel room, ask to be on the second through sixth floor, he said.
“The second floor room will prevent someone from breaking in like they could on a first floor room,” said Lenhart. “And if there’s a fire, most fire departments have a ladder truck that can reach the sixth floor to get you out.”
Double lock your hotel room when you’re in it, he said. Put the “Do not Disturb” sign on the door and leave the television on so it sounds like someone is in the room.
“When you think about all the people who have handled the remote control for the television, it’s scary,” he said. “Put it in a sandwich size bag over it to protect you from germs. And use Clorox wipes to clean it off. Also, use the wipes to clean off the tables you eat from while flying.”
Lenhart said he feels the coronavirus is “real and I don’t know how far it will go.”
“When I heard that Japan had closed its schools, I knew it was serious,” he said. “Inform yourself about the virus from the Center for Disease Control. Be cautious when you travel. Get some tips on how to protect yourself when traveling.
“Be careful,” he said. “Think about where you are. Protect yourself the best you can.”
The Sidney Daily News conducts a weekly interview to update readers with news from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, 555 Gearhart Road, Sidney.