AAA: Tips for keeping your car running smoothly and your kids safe as heatwave hits Michigan

As heat goes up, risks for children, pets and vehicles go up as well

The recent weather forecast says it’s hot and it’s going to stay hot. AAA - The Auto Club Group offers safety tips to help motorists keep their children, pets, and vehicles safe during the hottest days of the year.

I recently wrote an article about leaving children in hot cars: Important reminder about children in hot cars following tragedy in Virginia where I talked about the science behind hot cars, statistics on pediatric hot car deaths, as well as recent hot car death stories.

These are the prevention and safety tips I found while researching for that story:

  • Make sure your child is never left alone in a car by:
    • Placing the child’s diaper bag or item in the front passenger seat as a visual cue that the child is with you
    • Making it a habit of opening the back door every single time you park to ensure no one is left behind. Try placing an item that you cannot start the day without in the backseat, like a laptop or cell phone, to enforce the habit.
    • Asking your childcare provider to call right away if your child hasn’t arrived as scheduled.
    • Using drive-thru services when available.
  • Make sure your children are safe around parked cars by:
    • Keeping vehicles locked at all times, especially in the garage or driveway. Ask neighbors to do the same.
    • Using childproof knob covers and door alarms to prevent children from exiting your home unnoticed.
    • Teaching children to honk the horn or turn on the hazard lights if they become stuck in the car.

Read the full story by following this link

“People often think that something like this could never happen to them,” said Adrienne Woodland, spokesperson, AAA - The Auto Club Group. “However, many heatstroke deaths are accidents, where a parent or caregiver forgets the child is in the back seat.”

These tips for keeping your children safe can also be applied to your pets, as these extreme temperatures can put them at risk as well.

How to help your vehicle survive higher temps

Not only are children and pets at risk, but your vehicle can also be affected by this weather. AAA put together this guide to help your vehicle safely survive higher temperatures:

1. Battery

  • Securely mount the battery in place to minimize vibration.
  • Clean any corrosive build up from the battery terminals and cable clamps.
  • Ensure the clamps are tight enough that they will not move.
  • If a car’s battery is more than three years old, it’s a good idea to have it tested by a trained technician to determine how much longer it will last. The test can be performed at any AAA Approved Auto Repair facility, or AAA members can request a AAA Mobile Battery Service technician come to them and test their battery free of charge. Should the battery need replacement, the technician can usually replace it on location. For more information about the AAA Mobile Battery Service visit AAA.com/Battery.

2. Engine Coolant

  • Have the system flushed and the coolant replaced periodically as recommended by the vehicle manufacturer.
  • Consult the owner’s manual to determine the service interval appropriate for a vehicle.
  • Inspect hoses and drive belts for cracking, soft spots or other signs of poor condition.
  • Replace worn parts.

3. Tires

  • Check tires when the car has not been driven recently.
  • Inflate tires to the pressure recommended by the vehicle manufacturer—not the number molded into the tire sidewall.
  • Inspect the tire treads for adequate depth and any signs of uneven wear that might indicate a suspension or alignment problem.

4. Engine Fluids

  • Check all vehicle fluids including motor oil, transmission fluid, power steering fluid and brake fluid to ensure they are filled to the appropriate levels.
  • If any fluids need to be topped off, be sure to use the type of fluid specified in the owner’s manual.

5. Air Conditioning

  • Maintain a comfortable driving environment to reduce fatigue and increase driver alertness for increased vehicle safety.
  • Have the air conditioning system checked by a certified technician.

Be Prepared for Summer Breakdowns

Even with proper preventive maintenance, summer breakdowns can still occur.

AAA recommends every driver have a well-stocked emergency kit in their vehicle. The kit should include water, non-perishable food items, jumper cables, a flashlight with extra batteries, road flares or an emergency beacon, basic hand tools, and a first aid kit.

For more information on driver safety or to find safety resources, you can visit AAA’s website here.


About the Author:

Morgan is a Digital Editor and has been with WDIV since May of this year. She is also studying political science and communications at Wayne State University.