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Tips for surviving long traffic jams

September 13, 1997

By KERRY LYNN FRALEY

Staff Writer

With up to 50,000 spectators expected to attend the 135th Commemoration of the Battle of Antietam event this weekend, motorists should plan on waiting to get in and out of the Rench Road site, especially during peak event times, police and highway officials say.

Preparations should include measures to prevent dehydration and heat stroke in case the wait gets really long, according to American Automobile Association officials.

It should also include a plan to pass the time, especially if you're dealing with children, they said.

AAA spokeswoman Regina Tracy suggests bringing along plenty of fluids and, if possible, packing a non-perishable lunch or snacks.

"It is very possible you can become dehydrated just sitting in the heat," Tracy said.

Bring along sunglasses and suncreen for everyone in the vehicle, she said.

"The sun through a windshield can get pretty severe, so you can get burnt," Tracy said.

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If you're traveling with an infant, make sure to cover any metal parts of the car seat with plastic or cloth and shield the baby from the sun, she said.

To avoid an additional delay, make sure you have at least a half tank of gas before you enter the jam, Tracy said.

While stop-and-go traffic can get pretty boring, drivers should be careful not to let activities distract them from the road, she warns.

"Obviously, we don't want them to get too engaged in other activities and not pay attention," Tracy said.

Audio books are a good idea for adults and older children, she said. Or passengers could quiz each other and the driver with trivia question cards.

Bring along games made especially for the car or try no-hands games like "I Spy," where you pick something within your range of view and give only the color and shape as clues for guessing, Tracy said.

AAA has a series of children's travel tapes that offer a mix of traffic safety information, songs, riddles and games, she said.

Smithsburg Middle School teacher Nancy Souders suggests bringing along recent newspapers featuring articles about the event, which could be used in a variety of ways.

One way would be to read or share information from the articles to prepare your kids for what they'll see, said Souders, who teaches sixth-grade social studies.

Have them look through the papers and challenge them to find things that are used now but weren't then, she said.

You could even ask them to compare the different sections of the newspaper and suppose how a Civil War-era newspaper might have differed, Souders said.

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