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THE SAFETY ZONE

TODAY'S TIPS / Staying Safe During Holiday Trips

November 23, 1998

With Thanksgiving approaching, many families will be hitting the road. Here are some tips for making that holiday trip safer and less stressful:

* Plan route and carry a map

* Make sure vehicle, tires and fluid levels have been checked

* Carry emergency items: flashlight, blanket, jumper cables and flares or a reflective marker

* Drive with your headlights on, even during the day, to make sure others can see you

* If traveling with children, pack a bag with toys, games or coloring books; bring child's favorite cassettes

* Take food breaks and rest stops every two hours, more if traveling with small children

* Make sure passengers all have safety belts on and that children are properly seated

* Don't drink and drive; about half of all fatal car crashes involve alcohol

* Allow enough travel time to provide frequent breaks from behind the wheel; drowsiness can reduce reaction time almost as much as drinking

Travel during the winter brings the added concern of bad weather. Here are tips for driving in the rain:

* Slow down

* Keep a good distance from the car in front; a car needs at least double the stopping distance in the rain

* If you start to lose control, don't slam on the brakes--pump the brakes to stop; if you have antilock brakes, apply steady, even pressure.

* Avoid distractions such as eating, drinking, telephone calls and tuning your radio

* Monitor weather and road conditions by listening to the radio

Sources: Automobile Club of Southern California, California Department of Transportation, California Highway Patrol

PHONE HELP

The holidays are a time of giving--but experts urge caution. Charity scams kick into high gear in December, aiming to take advantage of people's generosity. And not all toys or other gifts are built with safety and quality in mind. Here are some numbers to help sort out the naughty from the nice:

* The Registry of Charitable Trusts in the office of the attorney general: (916) 445-2021.

* The Internal Revenue Service, charity information section: (800) TAX-1040.

* Better Business Bureau: (714) 985-8922

* U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission: (800) 638-8270 or http://www.cpsc.gov

* Product recall information: http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/category/topic.html

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