Tune-Up Before You Travel

Labor Day weekend is ahead, and like millions of individuals across the country, I will be road tripping with my girls to go visit family.  It’s funny how you can almost mark your family’s growth by your road trip habits.  Initially, we would have to make a pit stop so that I could nurse a baby.  A couple of years later, we would have to make a pit stop because we were potty training.  Then we would have to make a pit stop because I needed an excuse to break up the “Are we there yets?” with some sort of small activity.  Now?  We only make a pit stop for gas.  My girls read.  Sometimes they’ll watch a DVD or even just listen to a CD they enjoy.  They rarely ask me, “Are we there yet?” and if our destination isn’t further than an entire tank of gas, we can actually make it from point A to point B without stopping at all.  Who would’ve thunk it possible?  What has not changed since baby #1 are my road trip safety habits.  Parents.com offers the following seven safety tips before car travel, and I diligently follow all of them:

1. Go for a tune-up.  Make sure your car is in good working order. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends you have your tires, battery, belts, fluids, and air conditioner checked by a qualified mechanic.

2. Get a good night’s sleep. According to the NHTSA, driving while drowsy is a contributing factor in 100,000 accidents annually. Drive only when well rested, and switch off with another adult every few hours, if possible.

3. Give your car seat or booster seat a boost. Not sure if your car seats are installed 100 percent correctly? Eight out of 10 aren’t. Call 866-SEAT-CHECK to find a nearby location for a free safety seat inspection.  FYI – Lots of times the fire department will do this for you, the added benefit of which is the yummy eye candy (aka firemen)!

4. Gear up for safety. The NHTSA recommends packing an emergency kit that includes:

  • Water
  • Warm blankets
  • A flashlight
  • Jumper cables
  • Flares
  • Tools to change a tire
  • A fully charged cell phone
  • A first-aid kit

It’s also wise to subscribe to a roadside assistance plan — just make sure you know where to call in an emergency and what kind of assistance your policy includes.

5. Be sun smart. Equip all family members with sunblock and sunglasses — you may even want to pop hats on your little ones’ heads and invest in a sunshade for your backseat. When you leave the car, cover car seats with blankets so they don’t get too hot and burn a baby’s tender skin, and do a touch test before letting pint-size passengers pile in.

6. Scour the backseat. Make sure child safety locks are activated on windows and doors within reach of curious hands. You’ll also need to remove any poisonous substances, such as washer fluid, from your backseat. Next, look around for choking hazards — knobs that pop off easily, loose change between the seat cushions — and remove potential projectiles (hard books, toys etc.).

7. Keep the weight down. Store heavy items low in the seat wells so they won’t become projectiles during a sudden stop. For the same reason, suitcases, strollers and anything else stowed in an open cargo area should be battened down.

Safe travels, and happy Labor Day!