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With July here, we are into the busy time of year, for both Permanent Change of Station and Family vacations. There are numerous ways to prepare for departure and to ensure a safe trip and arrival.If you are preparing to PCS to the next assignment with your personal vehicle, it is important that the car be inspected and serviced before you leave. 

Be prepared for any emergency while travelling, with a properly-inflated spare tire, wheel wrench and jack. Jumper cables can help you re-start a dead battery. A cell phone car charger is imperative, as are flares or reflective triangles, which can alert other drivers if you are in a disabled vehicle on the shoulder

Be sure to pack some nonperishable food, such as protein bars, dried fruit or jerky.

The heat of summer brings with it a higher likelihood of mechanical breakdown, according to Scott Bruning, Fort Belvoir Garrison Safety Office, who says there is more than inconvenience involved.

“Repairs will always cost more on the road than they do at home,” he said.

People have accidents, too

Travel difficulties may not be mechanical, but medical. The American Red Cross suggests packing a first-aid kit that includes: pain relievers, two pairs of non-latex gloves, absorbent compress dressings, adhesive cloth tape, roller bandages and gauze pads, scissors, tweezers, antibiotic ointment, your personal medications and prescriptions, and emergency contact phone numbers. All of this should be packed in a large, sealed bag or storage bin, and checked at least once that all items are still usable.

Plan, avoid fatigue

Plan your travel route in advance, and then share that information, along with your expected arrival date with Family or friends. Once on the road, it is important to recognize the high danger that fatigue plays in car wrecks. 

According to the Fort Belvoir Safety Office, make frequent rest stops, and, if you have kids, be sure to bring snacks and some in-car activities to keep them engaged along the way. “Ideally, drivers should only drive for 4.5 hours without taking at least a 45-minute break,” said Bridget Pilgrim, Fort Belvoir Garrison Safety Office manager. 

If you’re just heading out for vacation for a week or two, Pilgrim says there are steps to prepare your home before leaving. 

“It’s important for you to set up timers for your lights to make it appear the house is occupied, and stop newspaper and mail deliveries while you are gone,” she said. Piles of papers or an over-stuffed mailbox are key clues to potential burglars that the house has been unoccupied for an extended period. 

Finally, enjoy your vacation, but do not post on social media what a great time you’re having. That can also invite unwanted attention to your home and property while you’re away.