The secret to surviving—and thriving—in the intense heat of summer is to prepare effectively, ensuring the safety and comfort of you and your family.
Whether it’s going to the beach, visiting family over the holidays or taking a long day trip, ensuring child safety is paramount. Here are some essential tips to help you get through the hot summer and focus on enjoying the important things in life with these summer car safety tips!
1. Don’t leave your kids in the car by themselves . . . ever!
This might seem like an obvious one, which is why it's first on the list. Road trips can be stressful. Long drives, potentially bad traffic and a squabble with your partner about which route is going to be the quickest are just some of the potential frustrations you might experience.
Stopping to get supplies, pick up something from a service station or even just a pitstop to stretch your legs might seem innocent enough that you can leave your kids in the car for just a few minutes. However, you should never do this. Not only is there a financial penalty involved (or worse), it can more importantly, seriously impact the health of your child, with temperatures inside a car near doubling the temperature on the outside.
Such is the importance of never leaving a child in a car alone, new cars such as Holden’s Equinox and Acadia SUVs even come with what they call a "rear seat passenger reminder" feature. So even on days when you do forget—and that happens to all of us—it makes sure you never leave anything important in your backseat, kids included!
2. Check for hot car seat parts
Do a quick check of the back seat of the car before you let your kids jump in. Make sure the seat isn’t too hot, check the seatbelts and be cautious. There's nothing like a burning hot seatbelt hitting your skin to cause a nasty burn and a lot of tears.
Using a fine mist spray bottle will do the trick. The water doesn’t even have to be cool; the evaporation will cool down the plastic and metal quickly, making for a journey free of pain. If the inside of your car is too hot to begin with, just crank the fan and open the rear windows for 10–20 seconds to push out the hot air.
3. Make sure they’re seated comfortably—and safely!
Child seats should be correctly fitted and kids should be secured properly. It’s always safest to keep your child in a child restraint, car seat or booster seat for as long as possible. Even though legally, a child can wear an adult seatbelt when they are seven years old or above, many children aren’t big enough to safely wear an adult seatbelt until they’re 10–12 years old.
4. Keep the car locked if you’re not using it
You might not think to lock your car if it’s safely nestled in your driveway or in your garage, but you should keep it locked just in case. Kids are the most curious creatures at times. Think back to a time when you found your child in a place they weren’t supposed to be or sneaking somewhere in their own game of hide-and-seek. A car could prove to be the perfect hiding spot.
The trouble is if they manage to lock themselves in or happen to play with some of the buttons while they’re in there. What if you leave your keys in the front seat by accident? Keeping your car locked at all times removes any doubt that your child is going to avoid temptation by checking out the car while Mummy and Daddy are distracted cooking dinner or doing housework.
5. Drive carefully
Roads can be dangerous and not everybody does the right thing and looks out for others. This is especially important for those long trips to grandma’s place over the holidays, where the entire country is trying to get somewhere as quickly as possible.
“Driver fatigue is a big killer on our roads,” says GM Holden’s vehicle development manager Jeremy Tassone, “so a comfortable, good handling car makes the trip less tiring. But also, stop and take a breather often, and if you ever notice you can’t recall the last few corners or road signs, it’s a sure-fire indication that you’re getting tired.”
With the road surface extra hot in the summer sun, it is even more important to ensure that your car’s tyres are in good condition and properly inflated. It is also a good idea to make sure that your car is in tip-top condition all round, and there’s no better way to ensure that than by having it serviced by your dealer before you set off on your Christmas expedition.
“Vehicle overloading is another factor to be wary of,” said Jeremy. “Coming in to summer, we tend to go on lots of holidays with bikes, boats, trailers, caravans and so on. It’s important to check your vehicle loading to make sure you have not overloaded the front or rear axles, or the entire car, which can have a big impact on how the car handles and overall safety.”
Many new cars now have features to make sure you and your family arrive safely. For example, the Holden Acadia driver's seat vibrates to warn of potential hazards, and the car monitors your blind spot and also recognises when a vehicle, pedestrian or cyclist is too close, and brakes automatically to reduce the risk of a collision.
6. Keep your child happy when travelling
Nothing makes a day trip more frustrating than when a certain little someone is crying in the backseat or bored out of their mind. Two simple solutions are devices (remember to bring extra USB chargers) or food—just make sure they're healthy snacks for kids.