There’s never a convenient time for a flat tire, but the situation seems even more stressful when you have a car full of children. Managing this particularly difficult situation doesn’t have to be impossible, though. There are a few things you can do to lessen the strain on both you and the little ones in tow while you’re handling this common, minor crisis.
Help the Kids Stay Calm
Some flat tires are more dramatic than others. If you have a slow leak that eventually becomes a flat tire, it’s a relatively minor inconvenience that may make the kids uncomfortable, but is not likely to trigger any meltdowns. If you’re tooling down the road and your tire blows dramatically, however, you’re going to have not only a flat tire to deal with, but also a car full of frightened, crying children. Make sure that you’re not behaving in a way that will increase the kids’ stress levels, and take the time to reassure them that everything will be okay. Kids don’t necessarily know what to expect from a new situation, but they will react with terror when they see the adult who’s in charge starting to lose composure. Stay calm, and try to help kids do the same.
Move to a Safe Place
Cars flying down the highway are inherently dangerous, so it’s important to move to a safe place as soon as possible. Changing a flat tire on the shoulder of the highway is scary enough, but kids can easily become absolutely terrified if they see cars whipping past you, close enough to vibrate the car they’re sitting in. Move away from traffic if you can, and look for a safe place to pull over before dealing with the issue at hand.
Invest in a Repair Kit
Ideally, you’ll have a repair kit for slow leaks on hand to manage the situation before it gets out of control. It’s wise to make sure that you always have a plug kit in your car, along with all the necessary tools to replace a flat tire and a temporary spare in case the wheel itself has been damaged. Remember, it’s far better to have tools that you never need than to need them and find yourself without access to them.
Get Membership in a Roadside Assistance Program
Just like it’s better to have tools that you never need than to find yourself lacking them when the need presents itself, it’s better to have an ongoing relationship with a roadside assistance program that you rarely use than to find yourself with no help in the event of an emergency. With roadside assistance in place, all you have to do is call for help and then settle in and keep the kids occupied while you wait for them to arrive on the scene.
Turn the Experience into a Learning Opportunity
While you certainly don’t want to drag little ones out to the side of a busy highway, older kids will need to have a practical knowledge of how to change a tire before they start driving cars of their own. If the flat tire is one you can change in a parking lot or at home and you have the necessary tools to change a tire and know what you’re doing, turn a bad situation into a learning opportunity by getting older kids involved in the process.
How you react to a flat tire when you have kids in tow will be largely dependent on the ages of the kids in question, the severity of the situation, and any danger that may be present. Use your own best judgment when determining your course of action, and be sure that you keep any safety concerns in mind as your primary priority.