BY CHUCK MAI, AAA
Getting ready to travel with the kids? Summer is the big season, and Memorial Day is right around the corner. But your family travel plans could hit a snag if you don’t prepare, and are missing the right documents such as passports and medical care authorizations. Family travel takes many different forms, and may include children traveling alone to visit geographically separated family members, travel with a solo parent or kids leaving parents behind to cruise the world with grandparents. Some family travel options may require additional and perhaps unexpected travel documentation when both parents are not accompanying the child, the child is traveling with adults other than parents or the child’s last name differs from the parent’s name.
Don’t get caught by surprise – make sure to identify and obtain the required documents for your family’s travel plans. Otherwise your trip could be interrupted or even ruined.
Passports for Children – All U.S. citizens including infants and children must have a valid passport to travel internationally by air. A passport card can be used for automobile and cruise ship travel to Canada and Mexico from the U.S. Both parents must provide consent authorizing passport issuance for a minor under age 16. Travel experts recommend that citizens of all ages use a passport for all international travel, including auto and cruise travel to Canada and Mexico, in the event an emergency requires reentry to the U.S. by air.
Current passport holders should examine the passport expiration date, and if the document is due to expire within six months of travel, renew it prior to travel. While adult passports are valid for ten years, passports for children under age 16 are valid for five years. Parents should carefully examine all passport and child travel documentation requirements at travel.state.gov, or seek the assistance of a knowledgeable travel agent.
Cruising with Children – Cruise lines generally require at least one legal adult (age 21 or higher) to occupy every stateroom to eliminate children cruising alone. This person also needs to be a legal parent or guardian. Cruise lines also require a notarized letter of authorization to travel if a child is sailing with only one parent, other non-custodial adults, or has a different last name than the responsible legal adult. For more information visit the applicable cruise line website or contact a knowledgeable travel agent.
International Solo Parent Travel – When visiting a foreign country – including Mexico and Canada – as a lone adult with a minor child under age 18, additional travel documentation is required. To help prevent cases of parental abduction and international child trafficking, many countries now require proof of the lone adult’s relationship to the child and the legal right to travel in and out of the country with that child. In addition to the child’s valid U.S. passport and entry visa where required, a letter of permission from the absent parent(s) signed before a notary public is needed.
The letter should include a statement of authorization for the child to travel, details of the trip and legal names and contact information for the child and accompanying adult. Single parents, grandparents, stepparents, guardians and any adult with a last name different from the child needs to be prepared with the additional documentation to present at border crossings, airport immigration check points and cruise line check-in desks. A travel agent can assist in securing the appropriate documents.
Children Flying Solo – Most airlines offer fee-based Unaccompanied Minor programs that facilitate air travel for children without an accompanying adult. These programs provide an affordable travel option to link geographically separated family members with the children they treasure. Airline Unaccompanied Minor programs, policies and procedures vary. Most require that an authorized adult escort the child to the departure gate and an authorized adult take custody of the minor child at the arrival gate. In flight, unaccompanied minors are under the care of the cabin crew.
If planning an itinerary for a child traveling by air solo, be sure to carefully check the specific requirements for each airline you are considering. Check age requirements, fees and all details which can vary greatly. For example, some airlines require travel must be on a nonstop flight, while others might allow one or more stops if a plane change does not occur. Specific details of each airline’s program can be found on the airline website.
Child Medical Care Authorization – When a child is traveling without a parent, receiving emergency medical care could be complicated or refused by the medical facility, unless the emergency is deemed life-threatening. The adult accompanying the child should carry a medical proxy, an original notarized letter from the non-traveling parent(s) granting permission to authorize emergency medical care for the child. The letter should include the permission statement, child’s health insurance information, social security number and full legal names of the child and accompanying adults. If the child remains at home while a parent travels, this important medical authorization documentation should be supplied to the child’s caregiver.
The following are statements from parents of substance abusing children (any age child) who have attended the group support meetings at the Edmond Chapter of Parents Helping Parents:
“When I walk into a Parents Helping Parents meeting, there is a feeling that this is where I belong, with others who recognize my pain.” Julie
“Having a son who has gone through addiction and is in recovery, and also as a counselor, I have a lot of compassion for other parents that come to Parents Helping Parents … (A)s a counselor, I understand some of the struggles they are going through, working with this illness everyday in my own practice.” Kyle McGraw
“The thing I found good about Parents Helping Parents is the speakers are regional, a lot of them are local and they have years of experience in treating alcohol and drug addiction.” Doug
“One thing that stood out to me at one of the meetings was another parent I met, whose son has gone through a similar experience as mine with drug addiction and her experiences truly gave me hope.” Julie
“I keep coming back because of the speakers and the information that I know I will learn and also just knowing I have the support of the other members who are available at the meetings.” Julie
For more information about the Edmond Chapter of Parents helping Parents, please go to www.parentshelpingparents.info and click on “Chapters.”
Borrowing those words from the opening of the old “Superman” TV series, yep, it IS a bird. It’s a BIG bird. A big METAL bird. And it has found a home on the Interstate 40 Crosstown in Oklahoma City.
The Skydance (or SkyDance, if you prefer) Bridge was dedicated Monday afternoon and lighted Monday night. The pedestrian bridge, spanning the new portion of the highway near Robinson and a few blocks south of downtown, eventually will connect north and south areas of an urban park. Work on the park is expected to begin next year.
It’s a big structure, meant to represent the “sky dance” of Oklahoma’s state bird: the scissor-tailed flycatcher. At nearly 400 feet in length and almost 200 feet high from road surface to tip of the wing, it’s hard to miss and easy to spot as you travel on I-40.
“The Oklahoma City SkyDance Bridge adds a striking and iconic element to Oklahoma City’s landscape,” Mayor Mick Cornett said. “Evoking the state bird, it’s a visual reminder that this is a city taking flight.
“For the millions of Americans who cross our country on I-40 each year, the brightly lit sculpture will be a head-turning reminder that they were in Oklahoma City.”
In a news release Tuesday, the city’s communications director, Kristy Yager, wrote that planning for the structure began in 2008 when Cornett announced a competition to design a pedestrian bridge of “iconic status that reflect the cosmopolitan and vibrant qualities of Oklahoma City and serve as a symbol for the City.”
The bridge design and structural engineering was performed locally by S-X-L. Civil engineering was done by MKEC engineering. SXL and MKEC engineering won a national competition for the project in 2008.
SXL is a collaboration of architects, engineers, university professors and designers that include Laurent Massenat, Professor Hans Butzer, Professor Stan Carroll, Ken Fitzsimmons, Professor Chris Ramseyer, David Wanzer, Jeremy Gardner, and Brett Johnson.
“Our design team was excited about helping connecting not only north to south and east to west, but in connecting travelers’ first impressions of our evolving city with this majestic image for Oklahoma City,” Butzer said.
Manhattan Road and Bridge was the general contractor. W&W Steel fabricated the steel and Swanda Brothers fabricated the feathers.
“The extreme amount of personal pride demonstrated by everyone who worked on this bridge, from architects, engineers, to the constructors and the City and state administrators, was unprecedented,” architect Stan Carroll said.
Yager’s release said the bridge was built prior to development of the MAPS 3 downtown park to avoid disrupting traffic once the new I-40 opens.
She said total cost for the pedestrian bridge is $5.8 million, of which $3.5 million came from Oklahoma Department of Transportation funds and $2.3 million came from the 2000 and 2007 General Obligation Bond Authorizations.
As with any artwork, Skydance will have its fans and there will be those who may not favor it as much. But it will be visible and easily recognizeable in Oklahoma City.
See more about the MAPS projects in KNOWIT.NEWSOK.COM/OKLAHOMA-CITY and more about Oklahoma Sites to visit in KNOWIT.NEWSOK.COM/TRAVEL-TIPS.
BY CHUCK MAI, AAA
The good news is that summer vacations are right around the corner. The bad news is that many of us will be flying to our destinations – and flying these days can carry with it a wee bit of anxiety as we navigate the latest rules and regs at our nation’s airports.
Here are some simple ways to cut down on airport travel stress.
Know Baggage Fees
Fees are $0 to $25 for the first checked bag; up to $75 for the second, depending on destination. Your travel agent can help you assess the costs. Fees increase for overweight or oversized bags, some specialty items are exempt and special rates are available for sporting equipment.
Dress for Less Stress
The Travel Security Administration (TSA) requires removal of bulky jewelry, belts, wallets, jackets, sweaters, pocket change and cell phones before passing through Advanced Image Technology. Some even require you to remove everything, even papers, from your pockets. Use your carry-on bag to hold some of these items. Wear slip-on shoes. Most airports want laptops out of their cases and in a TSA tub as they go through the screening process.
3 ounces, 1 quart, 1 bag. This is the TSA rule for carry-on luggage. Liquids, gels and aerosols are permitted in 3-ounce containers, placed on the conveyor belt in a 1-quart-size, clear plastic, zip-top bag, 1 bag per traveler. Yogurts, puddings and other gel-like substances are not allowed. Notify a TSA office for larger quantities of things such as medications, baby formula and food. If in doubt, put these substances in your checked luggage.
Rule of thumb: arrive 60 minutes early for domestic flights and 120 minutes prior for international trips. Many carriers mandate baggage check-in at least 45 minutes before departure.
Obtain Boarding Passes at Home
Most airlines allow travelers to go to the airline’s website to check-in, get seat assignments and obtain boarding passes on their own computer (home or hotel or whatever) up to 24 hours before flight times. Check with your travel agent on your airline’s rules on this. While on the airline’s website, confirm your flight schedule.
And my top airport navigation tips: be patient, expect delays, don’t forget your driver’s license and bring a good book. For more information on what’s allowed and what isn’t, go to www.tsa.gov.
The Edmond Chapter of Parents Helping Parents recently received a grant. The funds from the grant were used to create video testimonies from parents and professional cousnelors who attend the Edmond Chapter parent support meetings.
Following are comments you may find very helpful:
“As a person in recovery, it was vital for me to have one or two people who I knew were there for me. You know, healthy people who were ready for me when I went into recovery. That’s the first place I went when I needed help to find recovery. If I would not have had that support then, I would have just gave up and stayed out there using.” — CJ (daughter)
“After attending our first meeting, we then realized how long we had been steeped in denial and that denial allowed the addiction to progress and that was a dangerous place.” — Paula (Mom)
“My greatest satisfaction when speaking at the Edmond chapter meetings is when I see the light bulb go off; you can see it in the parents’ eyes.” — Patty Gail Patten PLC, LMFT, LADC
“At my first meeting, I felt a lot of despair, no hope. Today, I don’t feel that way and I give the meetings I attended the majority of the credit.” — Doug (Dad)
“I can see how some parents might think this is a very private matter if their child or loved one has a drug problem but they need to understand that by going to the Edmond chapter meetings everyone there is in the same position and you will never find a better support group.” — Julie (Mom)
“The meetings became such a reassuring and comfortable place for my husband and I.” — Leslie (Mom)
For more information about the Edmond Chapter of Parents helping Parents, please go to www.parentshelpingparents.info and click on “Chapters.”
You never can be TOO prepared for Oklahoma’s violent weather. Even the outstanding people connected with the National Weather Service who handle all that sophisticated, modern technology will tell you there is always a need to do more.
Last weekend’s outbreak of severe weather, though forecast for days in advance, still caught some people by surprise. When storms intensify rapidly and reach severe limits suddenly, the results can be tragic.
In the Woodward area, at least six people died as a result of a tornado that swept across the city. In addition to the death and destruction in that storm, tornadoes caused damage in Norman, Mustang and near Prague. Luckily, residents in those areas avoided serious injury.
While forecasting and tracking equipment continues to improve, residents can help themselves, families and friends be ready to reach safety when storms occur.
Storm sirens are vital warning devices. Sirens were used in each of the cities mentioned above. Officials are evaluating whether the warning system in Woodward may have been damaged by the tornado, or by the storm which spawned the tornado, prior to it hitting the city.
Here are some key pieces of information from city, county, state and federal officials regarding outdoor sirens.
- When a siren is sounded, take shelter immediately and seek more information. With more information, you can decide what further protective measures to take.
- When the sirens stop, it does not indicate the threat of a tornado has passed.
- Sirens may be activated more than once, as new or additional threats are identified.
- Oklahoma City officials advise they do not sound an “all clear” signal.
- Oklahoma City sounds all of its sirens in the county for which a warning has been issued.
- Activation of sirens are based on National Weather Service (NWS) Tornado Warning or a credible report of tornadic conditions
“Activating all of the sirens may irritate some residents, but it is incumbent on us to err on the side of safety,” Oklahoma City’s Emergency Manager, Frank Barnes said. “We want to give all residents sufficient time to take protective actions.
“We know it can be sunny on Midwest Boulevard in the eastern half of Oklahoma City while a tornado is brewing near Rockwell in the western part of the City. Severe weather and tornados move, and drivers need to know what they might be traveling into. It also gives people an opportunity to call family and friends in the threatened area to make sure they heard the warning.”
Oklahoma City tests outdoor warning sirens at noon on Saturdays when there is no threat of severe weather.
Thanks to Kristy Yager, communications director for the City of Oklahoma City for her assistance.
For more information about preparation to help you survive severe weather, go to KNOWIT.NEWSOK.COM/SEVERE-WEATHER-OKLAHOMA.
BY CHUCK MAI, AAA
Oklahoma’s pump prices are alarmingly close to the state’s all-time high average price for a gallon of self-serve regular gasoline, which is $3.955 set on July 16, 2008.
However, there are things motorists can do to stretch their fuel dollars. Some are easy, some won’t cost you a cent and all of them will make a difference. You’ll save money, you’ll use less fuel and you’ll help drive down gasoline prices.
Here are AAA Oklahoma’s 12 best tips for improving your fuel economy.
1) Gas. Only use premium if your owner’s manual says you should. You may think you’re doing your car a favor by buying premium, but you’re not. For most cars, the recommended gasoline is regular octane. Using a higher octane gas offers no benefit. Also, don’t “top off” when filling your tank. Most of that fuel either remains in the hose or evaporates. One more tip: shop around for the best price. Check with friends, neighbors, co-workers and Web sites (such as in the Fuel News & Tools section of www.AAA.com) for the lowest prices. Most gasoline sold in Oklahoma is of the same quality, whether you buy at a name brand or a “Mom and Pop” station.
2) Tires. Far and away, underinflated tires rank as the most common reason for getting poor fuel economy. Surveys show that one out of every four cars on the road today has at least one extremely low tire (below specs by eight pounds per square inch or more). One in every three pickups, vans and SUVs has the same problem. Gas mileage drops as much as two percent for every single pound of pressure your tires fall below the recommended level. Investing five minutes every two weeks with an air hose and a tire gauge (they’re inexpensive and available at auto parts stores everywhere) will save you a bundle. Inflate tires to the pressure recommended in your owner’s manual or on the sticker on the door jamb or inside the glove compartment. The pressure molded into the sidewall of the tire is a maximum – don’t go by that.
3) Air Filter. Another easy and cheap way to improve your fuel efficiency is to check your air filter. You can do it yourself easily – look in your owner’s manual for information. If it’s dirty, buy a new one and put it in; it’s very easy to do. Replacing a dirty air filter can increase your gas mileage by up to ten percent.
4) Engine. Old, dirty spark plugs can reduce fuel economy by 30 percent. Other bad components under the hood can cause your engine to waste even more fuel.
5) Reduce Your Miles. If you have to drive very far to do your shopping, make sure you purchase everything you might need for several days. Consolidate errands. Cold engines use more fuel than warm engines. Also, patronage shops closer to home and shop online.
6) Drive Efficiently. Stay within posted sped limits; avoid rush hour driving; stop aggressive driving; and avoid unnecessary idling. Quick jackrabbit starts and sudden stops waste fuel and are very hard on your vehicle’s components. On the highway, keep an eye on your speed. Gas mileage decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 miles per hour.
7) Credit Card Deals. Pay at the pump using a gas rebate credit card. However, some gas stations now charge more if you use a credit card. Check first.
8) Lighten Your Load. Take unnecessary weight out of trunks, pickup beds and back seats. Every extra 100 pounds can cost you a mile a gallon.
9) Gas Cap. By some estimates, loose, missing or damaged gas caps allow 147 millions of gasoline to vaporize annually across the country.
10) Gas-Saving Gadgets. Be skeptical of claims for devices that will improve your mileage. AAA has yet to find any device or gadget that makes much of a difference. Some will even harm your car’s performance.
11) Your Next Car. Hybrids and alternative fuel vehicles are getting better and better, with more power and greater fuel economy. Consider a CNG-powered vehicle. Compressed natural gas is selling for about half the price of regular gasoline these days.
12) Use mass transit or carpool.
I believe one of the most difficult terms to understand when dealing with an addicted child is acceptance.
My experience has lead me to accept the fact that our children are not at fault. They did not choose to become addicted.
Here are other things I have come to accept:
* I have accepted that I did not cause the disease of addiction.
* I have accepted that I have absolutely no power to control the future actions of another person.
* I have learned that my own peace and serenity only can be restored and maintained if I accept addiction as a disease — a primary disease, a brain disease.
* I have accepted that I can trust God and through my trust in Him I can maintain a loving and caring detachment from the chaos that addiction creates.
* I have accepted the suffering that addiction has caused our family and our loved one. It is through this suffering that God now uses me for His purposes.
* I have accepted that there will be others who do not understand my pain but that my healing was made possible by those who do.
* I have accepted that I will not do for my child what he can do for himself.
* I have accepted that my own recovery is not completed. I will improve with each new day.
When you hear the word “addiction,” what is the first thing that comes to mind? A source, or a result?
It may depend upon how close you are to an addiction. It may surprise you to learn how many people actually are affected when someone becomes addicted. But it also can be shocking when you recognize how near you are to your own addiction.
While numerous studies have shown that drugs and alcohol are considered the two main sources of addiction, personal loss and illness are generally cited as the most common results.
Those who have seen drug and/or alcohol addiction up close know how devastating it can be, not only to the individual, but to his/her family and friends. The addiction takes away health, possessions, relationships and often even life itself.
It may not be substance abuse, however. There are other addictions that can ruin a life.
The list includes such addictive behavior as gambling, excessive spending, criminal behavior and many other actions or desires that have the individual devoting time and attention to them well above what is considered normal, or average.
It isn’t only the obvious that can cause major problems. But there is help available for those who want it.
Our “know it: Addiction” topic page lists information and resources and a variety of addictions and where you can turn for assistance. From support groups to professionals, these are there to help.
Check out KNOWIT.NEWSOK.COM/ADDICTION-OKLAHOMA
I once took a call from my child who was threatening suicide. I can tell you nothing in my life, including my tour of duty in Vietnam, scared me more.
The good news is, I was seeing a counselor at the time and she told me that I should prepare for the possibility of such a call. We discussed it at length and I feel that perhaps the way I handled the call may have given my child the hope and support he needed to not follow through with the threat.
There is a suicide every 16 minutes in the U. S. Substance abuse is the biggest risk factor for suicide in America.
Edmond is hosting a “Suicide Prevention Summit” on Monday, April 23, at the University of Central Oklahoma’s Nigh Center, Constitution Hall. The event will be 6 to 8 p.m.
This program is specifically designed to equip every person, including children over the age of 12, with the proper tools to recognize the signs of someone who may be planning suicide and what they can do about it.
There will be several professional counselors explaining the tools available to you.
Here are some of the breakout sessions:
* QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer)
* Parents Helping Parents
* Heartline’s HELP Youth Suicide Prevention Training
* Signs & Symptoms of Adolescent Depression
* Youth Suicide Prevention Tool Kit
* Worried About Your Friend.
If you would like more information, please email email@example.com