Emergencies and disasters are rarely predictable, so being prepared for these situations can be vital in protecting the well-being of you and your loved ones. The key to safely navigating an emergency situation is not in being reactive, but rather in being proactive. September is National Preparedness Month, and we’re here to give you a few tips on how to make your vehicle part of an effective emergency plan.

Keep Your Vehicle Properly Maintained

A properly maintained vehicle will be free of any check-engine lights, have regular fluid changes and filter replacements as the vehicle manual suggests, and be free of any major mechanical or cosmetic issues that may hinder drivability or vehicle safety. Preventative maintenance is critical to staying on the road and avoiding breakdowns.

Tires, Tires, Tires

If your tires fail, you’re not going anywhere. Good tires will have sufficient tread, correct tire pressure, be free of leaky valve stems or seals, and be appropriate for the driving conditions they will be subjected to. This rings especially true for drivers in the Northeast, where snow tires are preferred for the winter months.

Don’t forget your spare! Your spare tire should be accessible, free of rot and at correct pressure so that it is ready to drive on at any moment. You’ll also want to have a jack, lug wrench and flares or reflectors to make the tire change easily and safely.

Assemble a Vehicle Emergency Kit

This is a very commonly overlooked tip, but one that can save your life in an emergency situation. Emergency kits can contain anything necessary to keep you and your family safe in an emergency with common items including jumper cables, basic tools, first-aid kit, blankets, bottled water, non-perishable food, cell phone charger, flashlight and extra batteries.

With a properly maintained vehicle and proper supplies, you are well on your way to an effective emergency plan. To learn more about National Preparedness Month, visit www.ready.gov/september.