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Know Before You Go: Travel Safety Tips for Your Thanksgiving Holiday


CHICAGO –The Thanksgiving week ahead is one typically filled with travel, a busy schedule and potentially bad weather.

“Don’t let this hectic time of year sidetrack you from safety on the road,” said FEMA Region V Administrator Andrew Velasquez III. “Take some time now to talk to your family about how to handle a travel emergency, and stockpile necessary supplies in your car in case you become stranded.”

Remember to take these simple steps to help ensure safe travel for you and your family:

1. Know the risks before leaving home. Listen to the radio or television for the latest weather forecasts and road conditions. If bad weather is forecast, drive only if absolutely necessary.

2. Keep your gas tank above half-full. When temperatures are extremely cold, condensation can build up in a near-empty gas tank, potentially freezing fuel lines and leaving you stranded.

3. Check or have a mechanic check the following items on your vehicle:

• Antifreeze levels - ensure they are sufficient to avoid freezing.

• Brakes - check for wear and fluid levels.

• Exhaust system - repair as necessary. Carbon monoxide is deadly and usually gives no warning.

• Fuel and air filters - replace as needed.

• Battery and ignition system - make sure they’re clean and functioning properly.

• Heater and defroster - ensure they work properly.

• Lights and flashing hazard lights - check for serviceability.

• Thermostat - ensure it works properly.

• Windshield wiper equipment - repair any problems and maintain proper washer fluid level.

• Install good winter tires - make sure the tires have adequate tread.

4. Have an emergency supply kit for your car in case it’s needed. Include the following items:

• Jumper cables - consider including flares or reflective triangles

• Flashlights - with extra batteries

• First aid kit - remember any necessary medications, baby food or diapers

• Food - non-perishable food such as canned food, and protein rich foods like nuts and energy bars

• Manual can opener

• Water - at least 1 gallon of water per person a day for at least 3 days

• Basic toolkit - pliers, wrench, screwdriver

• Radio - battery or hand cranked

• Cat litter or sand - for better tire traction

• Shovel

• Ice scraper

• Clothes - warm clothes, gloves, hat, sturdy boots, jacket and an extra change of clothes for the cold

• Blankets or sleeping bags

• Charged cell phone - and car charger

• Pet supplies - food and water

You can always find valuable information to help you prepare for winter at, and click here to watch our video on preparing your car for weather emergencies. Bookmark FEMA’s mobile site, or download the FEMA app today to have vital information just one click away.

FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

Follow FEMA online at,, and Also, follow Administrator Craig Fugate's activities at The social media links provided are for reference only. FEMA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies or applications.


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