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Posted: July 5, 2009 12:30 a.m.

Ga. State Patrol warns of summer heat dangers

The Georgia State Patrol is reminding drivers this week that now is the time to make sure your vehicles are ready for the summer driving season. Col. Bill Hitchens, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety, said that as temperatures rise across the state, Georgia State Troopers see an increase in the number of vehicles with mechanical problems on Georgia roads each year.

"Summer heat is dangerous to both people and cars if proper precautions are not taken," Hitchens said. "Those precautions include keeping your motor vehicle in proper running condition and not leaving children and pets inside an unattended vehicle." The commissioner points out that the outside heat and humidity, combined with the heat generated by your vehicle, can take a toll on your vehicle’s engine, transmission and cooling system.

Hitchens said Georgia State Troopers routinely watch for stranded motorists and provide assistance to them during the course of everyday patrols.

Troopers recommend checking your vehicles to make sure they are being serviced at recommended intervals; that all fluids are filled to proper levels with fresh fluids; and regularly inspect the belts and hoses for cracks and leaks. Additionally, troopers remind drivers to check their windshield wipers and replace the blades if necessary. "Any defects found with your vehicle should be repaired immediately," Hitchens said.

State Troopers recommend drivers prepare and keep an emergency roadside kit in their vehicles. The kit should include a flashlight, first-aid kit, jumper cables, gloves, extra clothes, extra washer fluid, non-perishable food, a gallon of water and basic tools. "Emergency roadside assistance numbers should also be kept in a convenient location," Hitchens said. "This includes membership numbers and related information your auto club may need in order to provide you with roadside service." Troopers also advise drivers to make sure their cell phones are fully charged so calls for assistance can be made should you become stranded and lose power in your vehicle.

Motorists are cautioned to make sure children and pets are not left in unattended vehicles since the temperature inside a vehicle can reach a fatal level very quickly when the ignition and air conditioning are turned off in a poorly ventilated vehicle. "Do not leave children and animals unattended," Hitchens said. "Teach children that a car or truck is not a play area and be sure to lock your vehicle." He also reminds drivers to make it a regular practice to check the back seat and back floor area for children and animals each time you exit your vehicle.

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