Tips on getting ready to hit the road Labor Day weekend

Many of us hit the road for holidays, including the upcoming Labor Day weekend, but some of us are ill-prepared for handling the unexpected when it comes to our cars.

According to a 2015 survey by Liberty Mutual Insurance, almost half (45 percent) of us don’t check to see that proper emergency items are in the car, such as flashlights or jumper cables, and one-third admit to not keeping a cellphone charger in their vehicle.

Chip Wade of HGTV’s “Elbow Room” and “Ellen’s Design Challenge” offers the following tips for maintaining your vehicle, and other ways to keep your family safe and stress-free over a holiday:

Prepare for the unexpected. Liberty Mutual’s survey showed that only 22 percent of Americans ensure they have a roadside assistance number on hand before embarking on a road trip. It’s important not only to have this number saved in your cellphone, but to also have it handy in the glove compartment. Also, in case your cellphone dies on the road, do you have a charger in your car?

Keep pen and paper handy. If you get into an accident, having a pen and paper in an easily accessible spot is important. You don’t want to have to search for a piece of paper to write down the other driver’s information.

Having an emergency kit is a must. You might even be surprised to find out that some of the most important items needed can be found right in your home. A kit should include: a flashlight, first aid supplies, jumper cables and a jack in case of a breakdown or other unforeseen issue.

Don’t forget the spare tire. That same survey showed only 28 percent of people check tire pressure in a spare tire. Imagine learning your spare doesn’t have air after you get a flat. A quick look each time you head out on a long trip could save you a major headache.

Get under the hood. It’s easier to take care of basic auto safety yourself than you might think. Refer to your owners manual for basic guidelines on everything from checking the engine oil level to that spare tire pressure. These are simple steps that easily can be done in your driveway or at a gas station.

While you’re away: There are several easy ways to make your home more secure while you’re traveling, including adding motion-detecting outdoor lights, trimming hedges to create fewer hiding spots, or adding protective devices such as burglar alarms (which could even lead to savings on home insurance). In addition, make it look like someone is home by stopping mail delivery, leaving a car parked in driveway and putting timers on lights.

What if you decide to have a staycation? If you choose a do-it-yourself project for your time off, research ahead of time and have all the materials ready before getting started. One thing to remember: If you’re working outside and the house is empty, don’t forget to lock up, as a burglar easily could slip in and out of the house while you are not paying attention.

MORE: Six ways to afford that dream vacation, 7 reasons you’ll love exploring Chattanooga, and other tips

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