There are a few activities that define the summer season. Many families spend these warm days hiking scenic mountains, while others might opt for the adventure of a camping trip. However, there is another activity that many families also enjoy each and every summer: the family road trip. According to a 2012 survey from the American Automobile Association, 1 in 4 families took a road trip at some point in the summer. It's hard to argue with the freedom and access afforded by these outings, not to mention the family bonding time. But just as is the case with hiking and camping, safety should always be a priority when out on the open road. Here are four valuable safety tips before you and yours spend the summer enjoying America's highways:
"Pay close attention to weather during a road trip."
1. Watch for weather
Not only can rain or winds put a damper on an afternoon, but inclement weather can also prove dangerous. Make sure your family keeps an eye on the sky and an ear on the radio, always mindful of storms coming your way. If conditions change, don't drive onward, and instead pull off the road until the worst of it passes. Whenever possible, plan your trip around any upcoming weather events; that's where the Internet can become like a co-pilot.
2. Bring the right gear
According to Liberty Mutual's 2015 "New Beginnings Report," 50 percent of Americans never bring along the proper emergency items during a road trip. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has assembled what it called the perfect emergency kit. That includes a flashlight, jumper cables, blankets, flares, extra water and tools for tire changing. You should also have a first-aid kit, preferably one that features bandages, alcohol swabs, scissors, gauze, a pain reliever (like ibuprofen), a syringe and safety needles.
3. Get a tune-up
Just as you might get your immunizations before a long vacation, your car should also undergo some pre-trip maintenance. The NHTSA recommended visiting a seasoned mechanic, someone who will check your car with a fine-toothed comb. The key areas are your tires, battery and various belts, but things like air conditioning also help during extra warm days. Parents magazine suggested if you're hauling a big load, like a boat, to use oil with a higher viscosity.
4. Always plan ahead
Watching out for weather is always a good idea, but proper pre-planning goes much further. Before you start driving, make sure you've got your route already planned out. It's just as important to stick to this route, as shortcuts might only get you lost. When planning your trip, though, always leave ample room for bathroom breaks or other stops. Even a few minutes to stretch can keep you focused during a long drive. If you're really strapped for time, or want to get the most out of the trip without rushing, plan to leave several hours earlier than expected.
Sometimes, injuries are unavoidable while on a road trip. You might get a nasty bug bite, or sprain your ankle while out for a brief stretch or stroll. If you and your family happen to be traveling up and down the East Coast, you can head to a nearby CareWell Urgent Care Center. Each CareWell team of doctors can handle almost any injury without missing a beat.