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Safer stowing makes for happy holidays

07/12/2017 by Mark Schneider in Safety

Happy holidays begin with a well-packed car. Luggage that's packed to the roof, blocking your rear vision while the kids are crammed in between the last minute odds and ends is a recipe for a stressful, miserable journey and a possible disaster. Badly packed cars are dangerous.

For starters, packing your holiday gear to the roof will impair your vision. You really do need to know what's going on around you when you're on the road at all times.

But there's another problem with all that luggage piled high in the back. It's what happens to it in an emergency. In a crash the rest of the family might be safely strapped in with the air bags going off, but the laws of physics dictate that your luggage will be flying forward with potentially lethal force. So from just 90kmh that 9 kilogram case you've put on top of the pile at the back of the car will suddenly hurtle forward with 450kg of force. That's enough to take your head off. Even quite small objects can become lethal projectiles.

Cargo barrier

So how do you prevent that? Well a good start is to put the heaviest things on the bottom of the load. But an even better idea is to install a cargo barrier well before you set off for your holidays. A properly installed cargo barrier certified to Australian standards will keep everything in its place when you come to a sudden stop. On online search will find a cargo barrier for your make and model of vehicle.

So you've installed the cargo barrier and you're confident that everything will now stay put. But now you're looking at all that stuff and thinking: "well there sure is a lot to stay put!" Your challenge now is to reduce the bulk.

It may sound obvious but the first move is to eliminate bulky objects you probably won't need. Remember that sage advice for holidays: take half as many clothes as you think you'll need and twice as much money.

Vacuum bags

The next trick is to buy some vacuum bags to pack your clothes in, ideally with a hand pump so that you can re-pack them again on your travels. Clothes, blankets and towels take up a lot of space. Vacuum bags can dramatically reduce that, helping you to pack all that stuff into a smaller case or bag. With space in the back of a vehicle at a premium, that can make a big difference.

Another handy device for keeping that pile of luggage no higher than it should be is an elastic cargo net. It's perfect for holding everything to the floor while keeping it in its place. Many SUVs and wagons already have them, otherwise you'll find them at hardware stores or car accessory shops. Once you've got one you'll wonder how you ever got this far in life without it.

When it comes to packing, one thing you want to take particular care with is the first aid kit. Don't pack it away with the rest of the stuff. Keep it easily accessible in the front of the car so you can find it instantly in an emergency. It could save your loved one's life.

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