The holidays are here, and with them, many families are packing the car and hitting the road. Unfortunately, for every driver on the road, there’s an increase in safety risks. That, coupled with the inclement weather we begin to see this time of year, means families should be extra cautious.

Here are a few holiday safety tips to help you stay safe this season.

Make Sure Your Car is Ready

Before any road trip, especially around this time of year, always give your car the proper maintenance. You might consider bringing your car in for a tune-up, where the mechanic will top off fluids, check tires, and let you know if anything else is needed. If you’re handy, you can check the tire pressure and fluids, yourself.

Stay Healthy

Holiday season means cold season. When you’re all crammed in a car together, you run a higher risk of giving each other colds and other bugs. Stay hydrated, wash hands and make sure you and the kids eat plenty of fruits and veggies to get your Vitamin C. Bring some snacks and drinks on the road for the kids, too.

Hide Valuables Out of Sight

Keep anything valuable in the trunk of the car, or somewhere out of sight. You don’t want strangers seeing you have a car full of gifts! If you can’t fit valuables in the trunk, put them in the backseat and cover with a sheet. Or, get a lockable cargo carrier for the roof of your car.

Know the Roads and be Prepared to Change Routes

Know your route ahead of time. Holiday traffic can get pretty serious, so be ready to leave earlier or later than normal if you hope to get a head start. Use maps or a mobile app to help you navigate if you need to get off the highway and find an alternate route.

Properly Use Child Safety Seats

Proper car seat safety is key for holiday travel. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants ride rear-facing until they are age 2. Once your child is 2 the car seat can be turned forward facing. After a car seat comes a booster seat. Booster seats help position the child so that the seat belt fits properly over the middle of the chest and shoulder. Once out of a booster seat, a child should not ride in the front seat until the age of 13 unless the airbag can be deactivated.

Keep the Kids Entertained

Bring along something fun for the kids to do in the car. You might be sitting in traffic for a while; make sure the kids don’t get bored (trust us). iPads and portable game systems are a standby, but for more family involvement, why not try playing “I Spy” or other road-trip games?

Watch for Hazards

Fallen leaves, snow and an early sunset may look pretty, but they pose a driving hazard. Be extra cautious driving at night and as the sun is going down. During rainy or wet days, keep an eye out for slippery leaves or ice, and make sure your tires are properly inflated so they grip the road better.

From all of us at Pediatric Associates of Franklin: stay safe and happy holidays!