Many of us have been patiently waiting for the warm weather to arrive after the strange winter weather we’ve encountered this past season. Before planning any trips, even short ones, make sure your car is in top shape.
If you plan to travel with pets or children, never leave them alone in a car or van — not even for a few minutes. Make sure that everyone is using their seat belts. Children should also have safety restraints. Don’t ever take children for granted because they are frequently more observant and clever than we think they are. We recently had a case where a five year old boy who was sitting the front seat of the parked family car in the driveway. Unfortunately, the keys were left in the car while the boy’s parent’s tried to open the garage door. The boy turned on the ignition and put the car in reverse where it rolled into the path of an oncoming car. No one was hurt, but the cars were damaged from the impact of the oncoming car.
Hot weather can easily strain batteries, so if your vehicle’s battery is more than three years old, it’s wise to test the battery at a certified car repair shop. In addition to checking your car’s battery, have the mechanic check your fluid levels, filters, tires, air conditioner, and schedule an oil change. Have the cooling system completely checked as a precaution. A checkup once every two years is recommended by most manufacturers.
By the way, and this advice includes women as well as men, it’s a good thing to learn how to monitor fluid levels. Once you learn when things need attention, you can have the issue/issues addressed by a qualified individual.
Long trips and heavy loads are hard on your vehicle during hot weather. One more reason why It’s important to have an emergency roadside kit. There are prepackaged kits that you can purchase, or create your own kit. Start with the age of your car and the weather. Include the following:
- Small cooler with water and healthy juices
- Flashlights, backup batteries and a blanket or two
- Jumper cables
- Triangle reflectors, pocket knife
- Tool kit with screwdrivers, pliers, adjustable wrench
Be selective when you choose things for a trip. Pack only what you can comfortably carry. Many people own one or two devices that run on rechargeable batteries. For example, this includes:
- cell phones
- digital cameras
- iPods and other portable music players
Key points about rechargeable batteries:
- These batteries have a limited lifespan, and don’t suddenly fail. Their ability to hold a charge diminishes over time. It’s commonly accepted that rechargeable batteries usually last 2 to 3 years. That being said, I had one last 11 years, and my latest cell battery is going strong for four years.
- Don’t purchase a spare until you need more time between charges than one battery provides.
Pack lightly for long trips. Long highways can be very boring, so make sure you have distractions for passengers, especially children. Books and games are all important for long journeys with kids. Use whatever you have available to keep them occupied.
Don’t drive and drink or take any medication, or drugs that will cause you to become sleepy. Don’t allow yourself to be distracted while driving. No heated conversations, texting, phone conversations, or checking email while driving.
Don’t drive for hours on end without a layover or rest break.