EULESS (CBSDFW.COM) – As summer winds down, many families are trying to squeeze in one more last-minute road trip before schools starts up again. But hidden hazards in your car could be a danger to your kids.

As a mother of three, a family trip can be very hectic for Melanee Warren. “It can be a little rough,” Warren said. “We’ll have one screaming and two fighting in the back.”

But even with the kids securely buckled up, safety is still a big concern when the Warren family is on the road. Consumer safety expert Julie Vallese said that parents should always be prepared for the worst scenario. “You hope that a crash never does happen,” Vallese said, “but you want to make sure these hazards, hidden hazards, end up being addressed in the vehicle.”

Small and seemingly harmless items — a box of tissues, a bottle of hand sanitizer, a child’s toy — can become projectiles in the event of a wreck. They can cause serious injury so, experts say, keep them stored away. “Something that weighs one pound in a 35 mph crash,” Vallese explained, “becomes 35 pounds of force.”

Keep those essentials in a sealed box, tucked into car door side pockets. This kind of ‘sanitation station’ will keep small items out of the way, but still within arm’s reach. And use larger storage containers, anchored down in the back of the car, to hold any larger items securely in place. “You want to make sure you do close it, so that anything inside does not end up coming out,” Vallese said.

These tips will definitely help the Warren family. “We’ve got a lot of stuff,” she said. “We have all these kids. They want to bring dolls and toys, and I have her diaper bag.” But the mother now has reassurance that her car and her children are safe.

Also, make sure that child safety seats are installed properly. The latest studies have shown that many of them are not. And use an adjustable mirror on your visor, so you can see your kids without taking your eyes off of the road.

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