Tips for a SAFE and Happy Smokies Vacation

Is it fair to say that we do things on vacation that we may not even consider doing at home? Though I often write on current events or places in our area, this blog originates from a recent personal experience. Our family was driving on the main Parkway, when our son pointed out the “cute little girl” in another vehicle. The child in the SUV was roughly three years old, and was having a great time bouncing around the vehicle from the side window to the front console and back, laughing and singing with her grandparents,  while her car safety seat sat empty. We traveled along with this vehicle for several miles, until they stopped at a retail establishment. After the family entered the store, I wrote a politely thorough windshield note reminding them of the danger posed to this unrestrained precious child, both literally and legally. I am certain that they were only preserving their sanity after a long ride of seatbelted protests, but the potential for disaster was not worth their risk!

Here at Volunteer Cabin Rentals, we want your family to have an enjoyable vacation in your Smokies rental cabin and the surrounding area. Here are some tips to consider while visiting, to keep everyone protected from an unexpected hazard.
Home Away From Homefront
1. Childproofing-Though anyone with small children knows to do this, don’t let your guard down. Study the features of your cabin thoroughly, and consider indoor items like stairs, sharp corners, doors and blinds, fireplaces, hot water temperature, and tubs. Outdoors, verify the security of balconies, hot tubs, and dangers associated with the yard, slopes, and driveway. Consider bringing supplies like gates and nightlights, so that you won’t have to purchase them while here. A small pack of bungee cords and even a roll of duct tape can always come in handy to secure off limits areas.

2. Safety Plan-As you would at home, agree to an escape plan from your cabin, and designate a meeting spot outside, should an emergency occur. Accounting for everyone is much easier if the unthinkable happens.
3. Lock It Up-Consider your cabin rental a luxury “hotel room with many doors”, all of which should be secured and locked. Though violent crimes are extremely rare in our area, theft does infrequently occur, usually through unlocked doors and windows. Double check before heading out on an all day excursion to ensure you have secured all entries.
Out and About Town
1. Hide and Carry-Conceal your valuables on your person. Tourist areas attract pickpockets on vacation looking for the easy mark: like a backpocket wallet bulge, or the perennially ugly fanny pack, which advertises that all your important stuff is in one unsightly wad. Wallets in front pockets and crossbody bags are smarter choices. When seated, wrap a strap around your arm or leg for extra security, instead of hanging bags on a seatback or placing them at your feet.
2. Please no PDA!-Like the Louis Vuitton luggage on the airport carousel, public displays of affluence are the type of PDA that makes you a noticeable target for those wishing to lighten your load. Put the expensive camera in a bag if you don’t immediately need it, and leave your best jewelry safe at home. Relax without the burden of protecting unnecessary expensive accessories.
3. Left Behind Game-Teach and employ your kids with this good habit. Whenever you are leaving somewhere, take a last glance back to make sure that you have not left behind anything that you have been carrying. Don’t let a sitting rest stop be the place you lose your favorite sunglasses or most recent shopping purchase. Last week, I saw a lonely, but full shopping bag in the roadway intersection in front of a local outlet mall. I believe it slid off the back or roof of a car, unnoticed as they drove away.
Lost Child Strategies
1. Lost and Alone Plan-I have a friend whose son followed the wrong “mom in a red shirt” at Disney World, and got lost (he’s okay and in college now). It can happen to anyone. Have a plan worked out with steps for your children to follow if they get separated from you. This is an easy discussion that can occur during the car drive here. First step is for them to locate an employee of the store or park and say they are lost. Work out the best details for your family from there.
2. Different is Good-Put distinctive clothes on your children when traveling. Bright colors, school logos, and even matching family looks are corny, but effective in identifying to whom someone belongs. However, avoid a visible child’s name on clothing, as it broadcasts identification information to everyone.
3. Label that Kid!-There are companies that sell stick-on child identification labels, but it is more practical to employ a waterproof permanent marker. Write your name and mobile number underneath your child’s clothing, like a sleeve or above their belly button. Then all your child has to do is find an employee, show them the number and say, “I’m lost, would you please call my daddy to come get me?”
Lastly, guard your health by washing, washing, washing your hands while in public, and also by using safety practices in public restrooms (never alone if under 10, and caution buddies even then). Protect yourself, your family, and your fun on this trip to the mountains. Come enjoy our beautiful autumn, before the crazy holiday shopping season begins! We look forward to seeing you soon.

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