If you’re spending your summer driving to the beach, visiting family and taking road trips, you’re racking up a lot of car time. Before you hit the road, arm yourself with snacks, your GPS and some very good advice. Read on for our top 10 tips on keeping kids safe in the car on warm summer days.

photo: 4moms.com

1. Have your car seat inspected.
Since people spend more time in the car during the summer, it’s a good time to find the nearest car seat inspection station, usually at a local police or fire department. The experts there will inspect your car seat and show you how to install it properly, usually at no charge.

2. Cool the car down fast.
A hot car is uncomfortable for everybody, especially your baby. If you’re stepping into a scorching car, crank up the air conditioning and open the windows to push out that hot air. After a few minutes, when the car is cooler, you can roll up the car windows and let the AC work its magic.

3. Inspect your tires.
How are tires like babies? They’re both prone to blowouts, and tires are more likely to have them during the summer. Blame the combination of hot weather, longer drives, and cars packed full of stuff. Check your tire pressure and the condition of your tires regularly to stay safe.

photo: Quinn Dombrowski via Flickr

4. Pack extra liquids.
On hot days, kids need lots of liquids to stay hydrated. Keep bottles of breast milk or formula in coolers with ice packs. And if your baby is drinking water, always pack extra—or store water bottles in your trunk so you always have them on hand.

5. Keep car keys out of reach.
Babies love playing with car keys and hitting the lock button to hear the horn. To avoid having them lock themselves inside the car when you’re outside of it, or getting into the car when you’re not present, always keep keys away from tiny hands. This is important year-round but especially so on hot summer days when temperatures inside the car could be high.

6. Don’t cover the car seat with a blanket.
A blanket may help your child fall asleep in the car seat, but even a thin muslin blanket can make the temperature under that blanket way too hot. You also want to be able to see your child while you’re driving, which brings us to our next tip…

7. Install a backseat mirror.
Set up a mirror that allows you to see your child’s face from the driver’s seat. That way you can keep an eye on them to make sure they’re comfortable and not overheating.

photo: Eva Ingvarson Cerise

8. Adjust your car seat straps.
If you dressed your baby in bulky clothing during cooler months, the car seat straps may be too loose when your child is in light summer outfits. Straps should be tight enough that you can only fit one finger underneath them, and the buckle should sit across the armpit.

9. Never leave your child alone in the car.
Even if you only have a quick errand, even if your baby has finally fallen asleep, you should never leave your child unattended in a car.  A child’s body temperature heats up more quickly than an adult’s, and even a few minutes alone in a hot car can be dangerous.

10. Check the back seat.
Forgetting a child in a car seat is many parents’ worst fear. To avoid it, leave your shoes, wallet or smartphone in the back seat so you have to go back there. Or, let technology help. The eClip (currently available for pre-order) is a small device that attaches to your car seat and syncs up to an app that reminds you to get your child if you move more than 15 feet from the car. And if you use the Waze app for driving directions, turn on their Child Reminder feature, which instructs you to check for your child as the last step.

What’s your best tip for summer car safety? Tell us below in the comments.

— Eva Ingvarson Cerise