Emergency Car Kit - Do You Have One?

emergency car kit

An emergency car kit is a major part of emergency preparedness, keeping your vehicle supplied with emergency supplies is a necessity. A complete car kit should include two separate types of kits and supplies:

1. A personal kit with food, water, warmth and supplies for your personal well being.

2. A roadside kit equipped with vehicle essentials typical to a roadside or auto emergency. (Many vehicle emergency kits come with a first-aid kit included).

An emergency or disaster can happen at any time, and it is very likely it could happen when we are NOT at home.

If something should happen and you are NOT IN your car, it is likely your car is CLOSE BY, so keep the following scenarios in mind when planning the supplies for your emergency car kit:

  • If you are caught away from home, you may not be able to get back home right away.
  • The roads home may be impassable due to destruction, or massive panic.
  • You may be stranded in a rural area where there is no immediate help.
  • You may have to use your car to escape your home and local area.
  • It may be an emergency situation where help cannot get to you for a while.
  • You or others may be injured, and emergency help is not immediately available.
  • You may have passengers or pets with you that will rely on the supplies you have prepared in your emergency car kit.

Below is a list of items and tips that may come in MORE THAN HANDY...
they may SAVE A LIFE!

Emergency Car Kit - Items and Tips:

1. Keep Your Vehicle Fueled -

  • Make it a habit to keep your gas tank ABOVE half-full (as close to full as possible). This Tip is placed at #1 because it is very important... when a disaster happens gas runs out quickly and the traffic lines waiting for gas can build-up quickly.

2. Water -

  • Water packets with the 5 year shelf-life are best, you can fit them into small spaces.
  • Nutrition drinks work well for hydration (add but don't replace water with them).
  • You can stash 2-liter bottles under the seats, they always come in handy anyway, especially if you have pets and kids.
  • Place an extra pair of socks over your water bottles (saves space in your kit), you may need them to keep warm or dry.

3. Food -

  • Use foods that don't require cooking and that can withstand heat or cold temperatures in the car. If you do expect to eat them hot, you will need to pack an emergency cook stove.
  • If you use canned foods from the grocery store (don't forget a can opener). TIP - Cans with the pop-open tops have been known to burst in high heat or if the cans happen to be jarred or dropped.
  • There are ready-to-eat emergency foods that come with their own heating device, they make a nice addition to any car survival kit.
  • You might want to add high calorie food bars they provide nutrition as well as energy, they also have a long shelf life and can handle heat and cold in the car.
  • Long shelf-life vitamins are also available for nutrition requirements. In stressful situations vitamin supplements are often over-looked as an important emergency item, but they are a smart addition to your kit.

4. Extra Clothes -

  • Warm clothes, hat, gloves, blankets, or space blanket.
    Do not over-look packing items for warmth and shelter even if you live in a mild climate, your body temperature can lower quickly when you become wet.
  • Good walking shoes and socks in case you need to walk anywhere, a day pack (or kit) to take supplies with you if you do have to set out on foot.

5. First Aid Kit -

  • Purchase a first aid kit or prepare your own, but make sure you have one. (Most commercial car emergency kits include a simple first aid kit).
  • Prescription medications reading glasses, contact lens care, dust masks, safety glasses, mouth to mouth shields.
  • You would be grateful to have these: Lip balm, hand cream, and a small jar of vaseline.

6. Equipment For Your Emergency Car Kit -

  • Emergency equipment can save your life (and others), check that you have these types of items in your car, if not purchase them to go in your emergency car kit.
  • Battery jumper cables, fire extinguisher, flashlight and extra batteries, LifeHammer/ResQMe tool (in case you or someone else is trapped inside your car), tire inflator/pump, road flare kit, few standard tools, and a pocket knife.

7. Communication and Navigation Equipment -

  • If you have and use a cell phone, you should add these to your emergency car kit: an extra cell phone battery, a vehicle charger for your cell phone, or some other way to charge your phone without an electrical outlet.
  • A pair of walkie-talkies can come in handy also (if just to keep the kids busy).
  • You should have a compass in the car and local area maps, GPS is nice if you have or can afford it.
  • Keep in mind, landmarks may be changed in a disaster, signs may be down; and you may need to find a new route home that your are not familiar with or that does not involve bridges and overpasses if they have been damaged.

8. Miscellaneous Helpful Items and Tips -

  • Plastic bags to put over feet (grocery bags work great) in case you need to walk out where it's wet.
  • You might want to add a large gallon zip-lock bag with toilet paper in it, wet wipes, personal sanitary items, also smaller plastic baggies which come in handy for many things.
  • Plastic garbage bags, heavy work gloves, waterproof matches, can opener, roll of duct tape.
  • Trick birthday candles work well for fire starting, they don't blow out, are more water-proof than normal matches, and are small to pack.
  • A tarp for shelter outside your car, rain, or privacy when nature calls.
  • If you might have a baby with you, diapers, plastic bags, baby wipes, and baby food.
  • CASH in small denominations and change, you may not be able to make credit card purchases if there is no power, also in case landline phones are working (and a cell phone is not available).
  • Note and writing supplies to tell those who find your car where you have gone and your condition (post-it notes work well - write on the sticky-side and stick on window).
  • Be sure to have your identification, emergency phone numbers and information with you, as well as a copy of family pictures, their license numbers and car descriptions in case you need to search for information about your loved ones. Laminate these or keep in a zip-lock bag.
  • Non-lethal self defense items such as mace, pepper spray, or stun-guns (they may be useful for aggressive animals also). *Be sure and check your local laws.
  • If pets travel with you, make sure you add an emergency pet kit for your dogs and a kit for your cats, its a good idea to include extra water and pet food.

Check our Pet Disaster Kit Page for a list of emergency supplies you might need for them.

This may sound like a lot of stuff, but if you pack it thoughtfully (there are many nooks and compartments in most vehicles), it will be worth the extra space used if you ever need the supplies even once out of your emergency car kit.

Many of these items can be purchased and prepared yourself, but it is more convenient and sometimes more cost effective, to purchase your personal and roadside emergency car kits. They have most of the necessary items included and are prepared for you. Commercial kits can always be personalized by adding items that you think you might like or need.

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