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Be prepared when traveling this summer

Family road trips can provide special memories for years to come, but you don't want those memories to include images of you or another family member struggling to change a flat tire on the side of the road or waiting for roadside assistance.

So, as you're making plans to hit the highways, consider taking a few minutes to assemble a car-care kit. Car-care experts say that adding a few basic items to your summer road-trip shopping list can help ensure a safer, less stressful getaway:

• Bottled water — Helpful if the radiator runs low on fluid, or to help avoid dehydration if you're stranded during intense heat.

• Flares — Essential for your safety and that of other drivers if you experience car problems after dusk-and so that tow trucks and other roadside assistance vehicles can locate your car more easily.

• Reflective triangles — To be used during day or night to warn oncoming vehicles, besides the flares. Reflective triangles are required in some states.

• Flashlight and extra batteries — For after-dusk safety and for shedding light on a variety of problems, including malfunctioning engine parts under the hood.

• Jumper cables —You may be able to count on fellow travelers to jump-start your vehicle with theirs, but come prepared with your own jumper cables.

• Tire inflator — A quick, convenient solution in a can for a flat tire — no tire jack or spare tire required. You can be on your way in minutes and have the flat tire repaired or changed later.

• Duct tape — The ultimate solution for quickly repairing a ruptured hose until you reach the nearest service station.

• Blanket and terry-cloth or paper towels — The blanket can be used to slide under the vehicle to further examine a problem, and the towels are a must for quick clean-ups or for handling hot metal surfaces.

• First-aid kit — A kit stocked with an assortment of band-aids and other essentials for minor cuts, scrapes and insect bites.

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