Spring Break is about to hit for tens of thousands of Iowa high school and college students, many of whom will be heading to various points south. Milissa Wright, associate director of campus police at the University of Northern Iowa, is reminding students who are driving to their destinations to get their vehicle fully outfitted before hitting the road.
To get the vehicle prepared, check fluid levels and tire pressures and prepare an emergency kit with water, blankets and food. Also, she says students should notify a family member of the dates they’ll be traveling. Wright says criminals will seek out Spring Break hot spots because they know there will be plenty of fun-seeking kids with fat wallets. Students, she says, need to be on guard.
Students should make sure to protect their valuables by using a room or hotel safe, drink alcohol in moderation and never leave a beverage unattended, or someone might try to spike it with something. Wright also suggests traveling with at least one other friend, if not a group.
She recalls the still-unsolved case of Natalee Holloway, the Alabama teen who vanished in 2005 while on vacation on the Caribbean island of Aruba. Wright says Iowa kids might think “it can never happen to me.”
“They tend to think they’re bulletproof but some of the bigger cases that have come out in recent years do tend to let individuals understand that they aren’t totally safe,” she says. Wright says by following a few safety rules, you can make your vacation a great time to remember and not something you want to forget.
“Trust your gut instincts,” Wright says. “If you feel uncomfortable, you are probably in a bad situation and need to get yourself back to someplace that you feel safe. A little voice tells us when we’re in trouble and it’s good to listen to that internal voice.”