ziplineMy family travels all over and I seldom worry about their safety beyond a car accident in bad weather or getting separated at a crowded location.  I try not to “go there”, especially on vacation.  But maybe that’s when I should worry most.

I started thinking about this while on a trip to Tallahassee recently.  I was on a media assignment and coming back from visiting a museum they wanted me to review.  I had never been there before (the museum, not the town), but I could tell it wasn’t in the best section of the city.  I figured we would be back in the heart of the city in no time, not to worry.  Well, while sitting at a red light at the intersection connecting us to the road considered the more desirable part of town, my family heard a loud “pop”. A gun shot.  We turned toward the direction of the noise and saw a woman in a parking lot of a fast food restaurant, running from her car into the building.  I assumed she was running from someone and called 911, thinking someone with a gun was chasing her.  Then I saw her run back out with a man with a phone to his ear.  I assumed he was calling for help, too.  At that same time I saw a man from the back of the car run around to the other side, then someone lying on the ground.  I explained what I saw to the 911 crews and realized the light we were at had turned green.  The other cars in front of us had already gone.  Should we pull into the parking lot to see if we could help or should we drive away, removing our kids from what could be a dangerous situation?  My husband reacted first, driving away, as we saw the police units pull up to help.

I told the 911 crews all I knew and explained that I didn’t see anyone run from the car, that it didn’t look like others were in danger, but by then we were on the next street and I couldn’t give them more information.  They took my number in case they had questions.  And we went on to our next appointment.

That night, I watched the news to see if there was a mention of what had happened.  It turned out a three year old was the one shot.  The news said it was an accident—the child shot himself.  The child was in serious condition.

The entire incident really shook me up.  Did I do the right thing in driving away?  Could I have helped more somehow?  Or, would it have been stupid to pull into that parking lot not knowing what had happened and possibly put my children in harm’s way?

And it got me thinking about taking trips and assignments to places to do things that may not be the safest for my family.

Where do you draw the line?  How do you know when you travel that you’ll be safe?

I like adventure and am the last person to ask the guy attaching me to a zip line if he’s had special training to make sure he knows what he’s doing.  But maybe I should slow down, especially when he’s attaching my son to a zip line, too.

I like cruises and am more concerned about making sure my child can’t get too close to the side to fall overboard than I am about the captain’s experience and commitment to the ship if it runs aground (and yes, I’m referring to the recent cruise ship captain who abandoned ship).  Maybe I should research a bit more when we book our next cruise.

I like going to tropical destinations, like Mexico, but am well aware that there is a kidnapping issue in certain parts of that country.  My father hated the idea of me visiting Mexico with my son a couple years ago (‘I’m heading to a tourist area, Dad, so relax,’ I told him…but did worry when we saw armed guards checking vehicles as we made our way beyond the tourist route). 

And a trip to Aruba still sounds like paradise to me, despite the reports about people disappearing while on vacation.  Hasn’t that happened everywhere? Even more often?

Should I be more careful?  Or is it just as possible the same things could happen at home and these issues should simply be a reminder to use caution?  I know I’ve done some crazy things on my travels and am fortunate I’ve not been hurt before.  Maybe I should be more cautious, especially with my kids.  But shouldn’t I be doing that at home anyway?

What do you think?