Stay safe this summer: Readying yourself for a road trip

By Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross volunteer

With summer approaching, our family’s favorite activity is taking road trips. We are so blessed to be in Northern Ohio since we can find awesome destinations no matter which direction we head.

However, despite all the choices, the one thing I’ve learned is that you need to be prepared for emergencies. The “it won’t happen to me” syndrome is a risky one, and who needs the guilt of knowing better but not taking precautions?

Getting ready

I’m a nut for lists. For years, I’ve been using spreadsheets (either Excel or Google Sheets). I’ll make a master list, and at the end of each trip, I’ll add whatever items that we should have taken. Then when the next road trip comes up, we won’t forget that item a second time. I’ve been keeping them for years, and my lists cover just about anything we could need. We don’t take every item on every trip by any means but at least we forget very, very little.

One item we always pack, and fortunately have only needed a few times, is a First Aid kit. I’ve actually got multiple ones that vary in size for my bike bag, my backpack and the car. While I’ve been a pretty safe person, there have been numerous times we’ve been able to come to the rescue of others, who weren’t quite so prepared.

Another lesson I learned in an American Red Cross Safe Driving course is to adjust your rearview mirrors out farther than most people do. Basically, while sitting behind the steering wheel, lean as far left as comfortable, and then set your left rearview mirror so you can just barely see the left fender of your car. Then lean right as far as comfortable and set your right mirror the same way. That radically improves your chances of not hitting someone in your blind spot. I know it’s saved me at least four times.

Lastly, get enough sleep before you set out on a long road trip. When I haven’t done that, the instant I feel myself getting drowsy, I’ll find a place to pull over and try to take a quick nap. I set my alarm on my watch for 15 minutes, and that’s a perfect time to be refreshed enough to drive another couple of hours. Any longer than 15 minutes is too long (strange sleep science).

For more information

The American Red Cross just issued a 20 Steps to Help You Stay Safe this Summer article for road trips, swimming, backyard grilling and camping. Item number 18 is definitely one that could save your life. Then enroll in a Red Cross first aid and CPR/AED course, either online or in person.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, Red Cross volunteer

Posted by Ryan Lang, Red Cross Board Member and volunteer

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