Recently we traveled from Saint Louis to Boston in a minivan. We, being, two adults and two children, ages 13 and 9. Now out of the four of us, three have ADHD, making this trip all the more challenging for the driver, my usually quiet and rational 52-year old husband. With a few guidelines I knew we could have a safe trip.
When we stopped at a rest stop or gas station, my daughter and son always went into the rest room together, and I followed. My daughter carried her cell phone in a sling purse, which is convenient in it never leaves her body while she is in public. I carried my blackberry with me and my husband had his cell phone on his belt.
The ride which lasted a day and a half was uneventful. The kids had their own DVD players, and MP3 players to keep them busy. My son is great for asking the famous “are we there yet?” When I said no more, he then learned to ask, “what state are we in?” He knew the order of states we would need to travel before arriving at our destination, by looking at his personal copy of the map.
Technology is wonderful in its diversity and has its advantages while on the road. There is nothing more incredible than having your husband driving 70 MPH down an interstate around midnight, and being able to surf the internet on your laptop to find a place to sleep for the night. Then I would call ahead and book our room with my cell phone. The online reviews for hotels and motels from previous customers make it is easy to tell whether you are picking a hole-in-the-wall or finding a decent one-night stand for a fair price.
While walking to our room I always make a note of the nearest fire exit. Then once inside the room all the locks, dead bolts, and security features are activated. In addition, I always stand the fold up luggage stand against the door, so it will make a loud noise should someone try to open the door unexpectedly in the middle of the night. Finally, I check the windows and make sure they are secure, before settling down.
Last year the hotel we stayed at in the Boston area had a small fire in the hotel restaurant. My son and I were in the pool area and my daughter, stepdaughter and husband were still four floors up in the hotel room when the alarm sounded. We learned later, there was more smoke than fire.
When the fire alarm sounded, my son had been swimming in the hotel’s pool. March in Boston is freezing, and since my son was wet from the pool and only wrapped in a towel, I had us stay inside the pool area, which had an emergency exit door direct to the outside. Eventually the hotel staff asked us to leave the area.
Eventually my son and I stood right inside the front door of the hotel, and my son loved watching the fire engines arrive, despite feeling the occasional cold blast of air from the door opening and closing. I was unable to reach my husband on the cell phone to figure out where he and the girls were at the time. However, I knew since he was a former firefighter from this area of Boston, for 15 years that he would safely get the girls out. After receiving the all clear to return to our rooms, we quickly developed an emergency evacuation plan.
When separating for any reason at the hotel, both adults would carry a two-way radio or walkie-talkie turned on and ready to use. The radios are more reliable and faster than dialing a cell phone. Cell phones do not always work in large places like a store, while walkie-talkies will work inside those giant concrete buildings. In addition, the radios are inexpensive. Next we decided whenever anyone leaves the hotel room that person was to take their car keys with them. This way if there is an emergency everyone would meet at the van.
One of the problems I had at the pool was my son had no clothes with him and he was wet. If we had remained outside for any time, that would have led to another problem in the freezing cold weather, hypothermia. The girls were still in their pajamas and although they had on shoes, they did not grab their coats.
Now, if a fire alarm sounds, we will alert one another on the radio. After making sure everyone is aware of the fire alarm, and then we will exit the building and make our way to the van. By having my keys with me I can start the van and turn on the heater for my son. Then we would wait for the rest of the crew to arrive. The most important part is everyone gets out safely and we have a predetermined meeting spot.
This emergency plan is also in effect for shopping malls and movie theaters and any other public place where we may separate as a family and meet back up after a short while. In the end if you have a plan set up for an emergency you may never need to use it. The best plan is to have a plan, just in case. Stay safe no matter where you are. I am sending angels above you, angels below you, and angels all around you to keep you safe.