How to Get the Most out of a Family Road Trip


Does a family road trip sound more like work than fun? Before you ditch your plans completely, check out our tips for smoothing over the bumps of traveling by car with kids. We’ll show you how to stay safe and sane while hitting the road for some quality family time.

  • Ready your ride. Check off all three parts of this important tip and you’ll be ruling the road in no time.
    1. Pre-check: Make sure tires are in good condition and inflated properly, have the brakes inspected, top off oil, engine coolant and windshield wiper fluid and fill the gas tank. You want all systems ready to go before departure.
    2. Onboard safety: Fill a duffle bag or crate with emergency supplies, including tools, a flashlight, extra oil and coolant, a first-aid kit, bottled water and more. Check out the Department of Homeland Security’s full list.
    3. Passenger comfort: Phone and tablet chargers, check. Blankies, pillows, binkys and stuffed animals, check. Snacks and drinks, check. Music, directions, sunglasses, car games and toys, diaper bags, wet wipes, paper towels, trash bags, check. Forgot something? Don’t panic — pick it up on the way.
  • Bypass the beach. Unless your heart is really set on a sand-and-sea getaway, choose a different destination to avoid traffic and crowds. The AAA says low gas prices caused record numbers of Americans to travel over Memorial Day weekend, and beaches were the top vacation spots. Look for Labor Day travel to be similar. Consider a lakeside retreat or take day trips to explore DFW’s many attractions.
  • Don’t drive distracted. Distracted driving is the new drunk driving, and is becoming more frequent. While you’re (silently) fuming at drivers who are texting, talking, eating or just plain not paying attention, don’t forget that you have potential distractions in the backseat. Make sure kids are in proper car seats for their ages, are belted in securely, have their own space to avoid fighting over territory and have enough water, healthy snacks, movies, music (with headphones) and other activities to keep them hydrated, happy and occupied.
  • Expect an emergency. But only in the sense of being prepared if one does happen. Pack medications in their original bottles, have insurance cards handy and know how to get the most out of a trip to the ER.
  • Plan for play. Texas has some great rest stops (and who doesn’t love Buc-ee’s?), but spending lunchtime exploring an unfamiliar park in a new city can be so much better — especially for burning off excess energy and finding new Pokémon. You can plan your stops ahead of time or have your navigator locate places on the go. Stay safe by keeping kids in sight at all times, making sure they have proper footwear for the activities they’ll be doing, and never, ever leaving them alone in a car.
  • Summer smart. That big yellow fireball in the sky may be winding down in other parts of the country, but here in Texas it’s still hanging around. A bad sunburn can completely ruin your children’s’ vacation and their mood, so decrease your risk of sunburn and skin cancer by applying sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher regularly, staying in the shade when possible, wearing UV protective clothing and donning sunglasses and hats. The heat also means mosquitos are still active, so protect your family from mosquito-borne viruses such as Zika and West Nile by applying insect repellent containing DEET.
    • Bonus tip: Apply sunscreen first, then insect repellent. Don’t spray directly in children’s faces; spray in your hands and then apply.

We hope you have a safe, memorable family road trip, but if things don’t go as planned, one of our many Medical City ER locations across North Texas has you covered. With average wait times posted online, if you do have an emergency, you can spend less time waiting and more time on the moments that matter most.

Find a fast Medical City ER near you.

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New Zika Information: Know How to Stay Safe from Mosquitoes


Your summer guide to Zika, West Nile and other mosquito-borne viruses.

Independence Day brought rain and heat to North Texas; two things mosquitoes love most. The holiday also brought reports of the 12th case of Zika virus in Dallas County and the 8th in Tarrant County, bringing the total in Texas to 53 as of July 6. Nationwide, the CDC reports 935 cases as of June 29, with 12 babies impacted by the virus: 7 infants with birth defects and 5 pregnancy losses with birth defects. July 6 also marked Dallas County’s first confirmed case of West Nile Virus this year. Given the circumstances, we thought it might be helpful to provide a recap of risk factors, symptoms, treatments and prevention measures for Zika and West Nile. And while we’re on the subject of mosquitoes, we’ll include a couple of other mosquito-borne viruses North Texans need to watch out for as well.


Zika has been a topic of concern since last July when the country of Brazil, an active Zika virus transmission area, reported links between the virus and Guillain-Barre syndrome in adults and microcephaly in infants (a neurological birth defect that results in an underdeveloped head and brain). Currently, there are no reports of locally transmitted cases of Zika in Texas with the exception of one Dallas County resident who had sexual contact with someone who acquired the virus while traveling abroad.

But Americans — especially athletes and coaches heading to Rio to compete in this August’s Olympic Games — are also concerned about summer travel plans. If it makes you feel any better, the World Health Organization issued a statement June 14 announcing there is no reason to move or postpone the games; partly because it’s about to be winter in Brazil.

This is great news for sports fans everywhere, but it is mosquito season in Texas, so it’s smart to be informed and prepared. Just keep in mind that your chances of getting Zika or any of the other mosquito-borne viruses listed below are very low, and of those who do become infected, with the exception of chikungunya, only about 1 in 5 develop symptoms.

Your guide to Zika, West Nile, dengue and chikungunya.


If you or someone in your family suspects they may have a mosquito-borne virus, alert a medical health professional immediately. If you are experiencing any of the complications listed above, seek immediate emergency medical treatment.

Medical City Healthcare wishes you a safe, bite-free summer, but if a mosquito ruins your day, it’s a relief to know there are 17 emergency locations with FastERTX average wait times posted online. Visit to find the ER nearest you.


Did You Know? Distracted Driving is the New Drunk Driving.


Would you down 4 beers and slide behind the wheel of your car, ready to start a family vacation or simply pick the kids up from swimming lessons? Of course not. But if you’re texting while driving — even just a little — according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), you’re just as physically impaired as if you’d polished off those 4 drinks before grabbing the keys. And that makes you 23% more likely to crash.

According to the Texas Department of Transportation, of the 3,534 motor vehicle crash deaths in 2014 (the most recent full year for which data is available) there were:

  • 1,041 people killed in alcohol-related crashes (down 2.62% from 2013)
  • 483 killed in distracted driving crashes (up 4% from 2013)

And, as a side note because it surprised us, nearly 44% of those who died weren’t wearing seat belts.

While drunk driving still kills more Texans annually, the numbers have been decreasing for several years (hooray!), unlike distracted driving, which is on the rise. And come on, people, really, seat belts? Text yourself a reminder to buckle up. Just be sure you read it before leaving the driveway.

Who’s driving distracted?

These days, drivers who do nothing but sit behind the wheel with their hands at 10 and 2 are few and far between, but there is a group that has a tougher time keeping their hands on the steering wheel. According to the NHTSA:

  • Teenage drivers 15 to 19 years old have the highest percentage of distracted driving fatalities
  • Drivers in their 20s represent
    • 27% of all distracted drivers
    • 38% of distracted drivers using cell phones at the time of a crash fatality
  • Since 2007, young drivers (16-24) have been observed using electronic devices while driving at higher rates than older drivers
  • At any given daylight moment in the U.S., approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or other electronic devices while driving

Obviously, young people need help staying off their phones and on the road. Just tell them to:

  • Turn mobile phones to silent when driving
  • Put mobile phones out of reach (in the trunk or glovebox, for example)
  • Or better yet, completely turn their mobile phones off

Because that’s what you do, right? Unless you’re modeling this behavior for your kids, these suggestions will likely fall on deaf ears. In fact, what are you modeling? How many of these (answer truthfully) have you done while driving?

  • Texting
  • Using a cell phone, smartphone or tablet
  • Eating or drinking
  • Talking to passengers
  • Fixing hair and makeup
  • Brushing teeth
  • Changing clothes
  • Reading, including maps
  • Using a navigation system
  • Watching a video
  • Adjusting a radio, CD player or MP3 player

While texting is by far the most serious because it requires using your eyes, hands and brain, all of these (and more) equal distracted driving and impair to some degree your ability to drive safely.

Just ask Matt Carrick, MD, Trauma Medical Director at Medical City Plano, who treats patients who’ve both caused and been the victim of distracted driving. He says the average driver who sends a text glances at their phone for 5 seconds, during which time the car, at 55 mph, will travel the length of a football field. Scary, right?

Do these 5 and stay alive.

Here are 5 more things you can do to keep yourself and your young drivers from getting distracted:

    1. We weren’t kidding — model safe behavior — no cell phone use at all
      • Seriously, turn it off or put it out of reach
      • Make calls and text only after pulling over
    2. Download a deterrent app, such as LifeSaver Distracted Driving
    3. Enter your destination in your GPS before starting to drive, and if alone, use one with voice prompts
    4. Know which Texas cities have cell phone ordinances that could cost you big in fines
    5. Take our pop quiz on texting and driving

Medical City Healthcare wants you to drive safely, but if distracted driving ruins your day, it’s a relief to know there are 17 emergency locations with FastERTX average wait times posted online. Visit to find the ER nearest you.