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Quick tips on how to reach and return safely by car from your next destination

By Myscha Theriault
McClatchy-Tribune
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- CARANDDRIVER.COM
Have jumper cables in your car? Are you absolutely sure? What about a first-aid kit? Extra cell-phone batteries? Make sure your vehicle has what you’ll need handy in case of a vacation emergency.

Whether driving to the beach, the mountains or elsewhere in the Piedmont, make sure you protect your travel plans as much as possible. Implement these simple safety steps before your next automobile journey.

Know what’s where in your vehicle. It’s common practice just to grab the keys and go. But surveying the machine you'll be driving can save you from close calls on the highway. Hazard lights are often overlooked as a necessity until an emergency situation arises where you need them. This happened to me recently. Fortunately, I was close to a convenient pull-off spot so I was able to get by with blinkers and a fast reaction time. Still, it was a close enough call to put this particular light switch on my personal travel radar for years to come. Windshield wiper access and the location of your rear-window defogger are also helpful things to survey ahead of time.

Bring road supplies: Realizing the need for a portable first aid kit and jumper cables may seem like a rookie skill set, but you’d be surprised how many people manage to leave home without packing the basics. Additionally, there are a number of items even veteran road warriors forget on a regular basis. For example, having extras of things like cell phone backup batteries, serpentine belts and emergency water bottles is a relatively affordable way to protect yourself from a variety of highway emergencies. My husband and I also like to travel with a fire extinguisher. If our engine ever bursts into flame during inclement weather, we can at least have a reasonable expectation of having a car roof over our heads until help arrives.

Keep those supplies handy: There are few things more annoying than being in a situation where you need quick access to your vehicle’s emergency supplies, only to notice they are buried beneath luggage, car games and sleeping bags. Make sure yours are stored in an easy-to-reach location. One way to do this is to keep a grab-and-go container just inside the door to your car’s trunk or rear storage space. Inexpensive milk crates work well, as do those soft-sided storage solutions for sale at auto supply stores. You can also use a flat-bottomed canvas bag with pockets on the outside.

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