Car safety for kids and pets on your summer road trip

If you plan to hit the road with the family this summer, whether you're exploring Atlanta...

If you plan to hit the road with the family this summer, whether you're exploring Atlanta or heading out of town, be prepared to keep adults, kids and animals safe, comfortable and entertained for the duration.

Car safety starts before you leave the driveway. Make sure your kids are seated and restrained properly.

  • Rear-facing car seats are the safest choice for infants and toddlers from birth until they outgrow the seats. They should always be installed in the back seat, never the front seat.
  • If your child is younger than three and has outgrown his rear-facing infant car seat, he should stay in a front-facing car seat until his height or weight exceeds the seat's limits. Again, keep his car seat in the back, rather than in the front.
  • Kids as old as 12 may still need a booster seat until they are tall enough to wear seat belts correctly. Seat belts should fit tightly over the hips and across the chest and never worn across the neck or over the stomach.
  • Older kids and adults should always wear seat belts.

To keep kids occupied and prevent potentially dangerous driver distractions, find an audiobook the whole family can enjoy, pack coloring books or quiet games, or teach your child to read a map and assign him the important role of navigator.

If you are also bringing the family pet on your summer road trip, keep these things in mind:

  • Health: Before you leave Atlanta, visit your veterinarian for a checkup to ensure that your pet is healthy enough for travel. If you will cross state lines, your pet will need a health certificate and a current rabies vaccination. Ensure that your pet is microchipped and wears an ID tag with your phone number at all times.
  • Car safety: Loose pets in the car can cause accidents, and an unrestrained cat or dog is more likely to be hurt if an accident happens. Your pet should ride in a travel carrier or be secured with a pet seat belt. If your pet rides in a carrier, ensure that it is well ventilated and not covered with luggage. Never let your dog stick his head out the window or ride in the bed of a pickup truck.
  • Food: Bring your pet's regular food along for the trip. Changing brands can upset your pet's stomach, and avoid feeding your pet "table scraps" from meals on the road.
  • Exercise: Bring your dog's leash. Most roadside parks require dogs to be leashed at all times. Don't forget to pack a your pet's favorite toy.

Remember, never leave your children or your pets in the car alone, particularly on a hot summer day.

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