Policing spring break

Morgan Smith of the Washington Post published an article on March 8, 2019 entitled, “Is spring break safe? Public officials warn college students of increased danger as vacations begin.” She forewarns Spring break vacation enthusiasts about heavier and stricter policing in the U.S. and country safety warnings at destinations like Mexico.

From intoxicated drivers causing hundreds of car accidents in Florida to illegal drugs and prohibiting alcohol consumption in public, police are cracking down on Spring breakers who want to push the limits in Florida and Texas. Substance abuse and sexual assault are the heaviest challenges,” reports Miami’s Chief of Police, Daniel Oates. His department received $700,000 in funding to work overtime the entire month of March.

Country safety alerts and warnings

The article continues to alert readers about State Department warnings to foreign destinations. Mexico has a number of states where the State Department has issued Level 3 – Reconsider Travel and Level 4 – Do Not Travel warnings. “If the government says you shouldn’t travel there, the risks are serious,” said Sheryl Hill, chief executive of Depart Smart Inc., a travel safety company.  These warnings generally means your consulate may not be able to assist you in dire emergencies.

Josh Levinson, a 20-year-old junior at the University of Iowa is journeying off to Nassau, Bahamas. The article said he was unaware of the lower-level State Department travel advisory for the Bahamas. “I haven’t really thought about the safety aspect because we’re going to be at a nice resort,” he said. “I think the group I’m with has common sense, so I’d hope if something were to happen, we’d be able to figure it out.”  Meh!  This is a common misunderstanding by U.S. Americans.  “Violent crime, such as burglaries, armed robberies, and sexual assault is common, even during daylight hours and in tourist areas. U.S. government personnel are not permitted to visit the Sand Trap area in Nassau due to crime. Jet-ski operators are known to commit sexual assaults against tourists, including minors,” warns the State Department. Don’t worry! We reached out to Josh and offered him Travel HERO Super Skills so he can identify and avoid risks, and get the help he needs when he needs it for safe rewarding journeys. Our sister organization, DepartSmart.org, serves youth and students. Most people don’t know what they need to know to Depart Smart.

Smart Traveler Enrollment Program – S.T.E.P.

“Travelers can enroll in the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program to receive travel and security updates to their phone about their destination. Hill, of Depart Smart, recommends (everyone, especially) college students check their travel insurance to make sure they have the appropriate coverage, especially if they’re traveling outside the United States.”

Emergency

The three digit number is not 911 in most countries, although it holds true for the Bahamas and Mexico.  You’ll need to know if the police are more trustworthy than the gangs, and if you will arrested and held guilty until proven innocent.  You’ll also need to know your rights.  Knowing local laws and customs can help you tread softly around risky unknowns.  It’s our passion to help people Depart Smart with travel safety skills.

Injuries abroad cost a lot of money

Let’s expound on what appropriate travel insurance coverage is.  Your travel insurance should offer coverage for adventure activities, if you are going to zip line, or scuba, etc. You should carry up to $1M in health insurance and $500K in emergency medical evacuation.  Your insurance should prepay for your expenses.  Cash strapped college students are in a bind when they need healthcare abroad and don’t have the cash to prepay for hospital stays or air ambulances that start at tens of thousands of dollars. Your travel insurance should also provide bedside assistance for next of kin, so you have someone nearby who genuinely cares about you.  Travel insurance should offer translation services and legal referrals with a toll-free 24×7 hotline.  Call your travel insurance first! You need to check the fine print for exclusions, like pre-existing conditions or certain alcohol limits – otherwise its null and void.

We are integrating premier AIG Travel insurance into our Travel HEROES platform soon.

Drowning

Drowning is the 3rd leading cause of unintentional injury death worldwide, accounting for 7% of all injury-related deaths. Guys, you are more likely to die by drowning than your female counterparts. According to the World Health Organization that is because of risk behaviors and alcohol related accidents. Unlike Hollywood movies, most drownings are silent killers. Beaches are an exciting enticement with friends.  Alcohol and moonlit swims don’t mix.  Familiarize yourself with rip tides and currents, underwater obstructions, dangerous sea life, water conditions, and check for skilled lifeguards with flotation devices.

Dr. John Fletemeyer, water safety expert and Depart Smart adviser studied a number of hotel swimming pools for compliance to U.S. safety

How to

This article gives you a debrief on the what and why, but our safety training can equip you with the how. We want people to Depart Smart with Travel HEROES Safety skills, tools, and emergency contingency plans so they have safe rewarding journeys and return to the people and places they love. Enroll today to earn your cape. You, too, can save LIVES!