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Hitting the Road? Here’s How to Be Prepared

Summer is the season for road trips. But whether you're packing a bag full of swimwear or finishing off your mix tape for a long drive, here's a checklist to ensure your trip is as safe as it is fun.

1. Make sure your car is in tip-top shape.

We can't predict a flat tire, but we can at least ensure that our car is in the best possible condition before we hit the road. To make sure your car is road trip ready, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) recommends a few basic checks, including:

  • Tire pressure: Visually check your tires to make sure they're properly and equally inflated.
  • Leaking fluids: Check under the vehicle to make sure oil, power or brake fluid aren't leaking.
  • Engine oil level and cleanliness: You can check this under the hood on your own or visit a mechanic.

View a complete list and recommendations from the DMV.

Even after taking these precautions, it's still important to have a plan for car trouble, especially in the summer heat.  You may already belong to a motor club that provides roadside assistance. If not, there are many auto clubs and organizations to choose from with annual memberships that provide towing and other emergency assistance.

2. Remember to bring your medical supplies.

Put all your medications and medical supplies in one small bag or backpack, and keep it with you at all times. Many medications must be stored at room temperature or even in a cooler, so check with your pharmacy to learn how to best keep these safe. If you have a chronic condition, such as diabetes or heart disease, your medication travel bag should contain:

  • Prescriptions for your medications
  • Doctor's note on letterhead describing how you manage your condition and listing all the medications and supplies you need
  • Medical identification card, bracelet or necklace to let others know about your condition, in the event of an emergency

3. Pack an emergency kit.

Your car should always be equipped for an emergency. But dangerous heat in the summer makes your preparedness even more vital. Before you go, make sure to pack a kit with the following items and store them in your trunk or backseat.

  • Fresh drinking water in plastic bottles
  • Non-perishable food
  • First aid kit, including:
    • Adhesive bandages, tape and gauze
    • Pain or fever relievers, such as aspirin or ibuprofen
    • Medication for upset stomach or motion sickness
    • Antiseptic wash or spray
    • 1% hydrocortisone cream
    • Aloe gel
    • Digital thermometer
    • Scissors
  • A flashlight and extra batteries
  • A fully charged cell phone
  • A multipurpose utility tool
  • Blankets
  • Matches

In the event of car trouble, the following items will also come in handy:

  • A spare tire (use a tire gauge to check your tire's pressure)
  • Jumper cables
  • An empty gas can
  • Foam tire sealant
  • Reflective warning triangles

Once you've completed this checklist, you should be ready to hit the road and enjoy your summer road trip. You may also enjoy these tips for protecting your health when traveling.

Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Motor Vehicles, Krames Staywell, Popular Mechanics

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