Preparing an Emergency Kit for Your Car
You never know when you might need emergency supplies
when on the road, whether close to home, or far
away. Whether it is vehicle failure, weather conditions,
or other causes, it always pays to be prepared
for an emergency on the road.
Consider the following suggestions for your vehicle
emergency preparedness kit. Depending upon your
climate and distance traveled, you may wish to
modify the list. For example, if you're planning
an excursion into the wilderness for a week, you'll
want to stock up on the food, water, and other
survival rations in case you become stranded in
If you're a daily commuter in a friendly climate,
chances are that your emergency kit will be a
handy convenience when the need arises. Always
prepare, however, for adverse weather conditions
and unexpectedly long separations from sources
of food, water, heating or cooling.
First, let's begin with standard emergency
supplies applicable to any climate or situation:
Cell phone - If you have a cell phone, always
keep it with you and charged when traveling. If
you have a cigarette lighter charging adapter,
keep that in the car at all times.
CB Radio (with extra batteries) - A hand-held
CB radio can provide emergency communications
with others on the road when out of cell range.
Standard 1st aid Kit and manual - Purchase a standard,
compact first aid kit, and store it with a first
aid manual in case of injury.
Flashlight (with extra batteries) - A source of
light is a necessity for emergencies or breakdowns
after dark. Consider modern emergency LED flashlights
that charge quickly by an internal generator powered
by cranking or shaking of the unit.
Pocketknife - A pocketknife can be very useful
for a wide variety of needs in an emergency. Many
pocketknives also have can opener and screwdriver
tools that can be a benefit in an emergency.
$20 in small bills. Good for any small purchase
in places that do not accept checks or credit
$5 in quarters. Handy for payphone calls.
Whistle - If you need to attract attention from
a distance, a good loud whistle is a great way
to do so.
Flares - Flares can both attract attention and
warn of danger and signal others to avoid you.
Jumper Cables - Jumper cables will enable you
to take advantage of a good Samaritan's offer
to jump start your car in the event of a battery
Small notebook and pencil - A notepad can be very
handy for jotting down directions, instructions,
or any other information. Pack a pencil instead
of a pen, because pens can freeze or dry up rendering
them useless. Also, be sure to pack a pocketknife
for sharpening the pencil, when needed.
Small toolkit - a compact toolkit consisting of
flathead and Philips-head screwdrivers, an adjustable
wrench, pliers, and snips.
Tire repair kit and pump - A 12V DC air compressor
is compact and a handy way to re-inflate a tire
out on the road. Consider also carrying a non-flammable
flat tire repair kit, which will re-inflate a
damaged tire in an emergency situation.
Portable radio with extra batteries - If you're
suffering from electrical problems with your car,
a radio can be a source of information and entertainment,
while you seek out or wait for roadside assistance.
Toilet tissue and individually wrapped handy-wipes
or moist towelettes- Pack these often-overlooked
items for basic hygiene or cleanup.
Emergency contact names and numbers - Include
a 3x5 card with all of your personal emergency
contacts as well as allergies, health conditions,
doctors, hospital, or health insurance policy
information. A copy of such information should
also be kept in your wallet or purse in case of
Small folding shovel - Very handy for freeing
your vehicle from snow, ice, or mud.
Spare fuses - Consult your owner manual to determine which parts to keep on-hand,
and the location of the fuse box in the vehicle.
Auto Club or roadside assistance numbers - If
you belong to an auto club or subscribe to roadside
assistance services, be sure that you can call
upon them when the need arises!
Clean rags and work gloves - Even small tasks
under the hood or under the vehicle can get messy.
Jack and lug wrench - Be sure to have the basics
for changing a tire.
Roll of duct tape - Great for temporary repair
of leaking hoses, and many other short-term fixes.
Maps of the area being traveled - Keeping a road
atlas in the car is a great insurance policy and
can give you great peace of mind in case you get
Quart of Oil and transmission fluid - Keep essential
fluids in reserve, especially on long trips. Consult
your owners manual for proper fluid specifications and
- Windshield frost/ice scraper and brush for snow removal.
- Clothing for cold climates/seasons - Spare coat,
Hat, Gloves, Scarf, Blankets.
- Chemical hand warmers - available in winter sporting
- Bag of clay cat litter - for traction when stuck
in the snow and ice.
Semi-perishable items (to be replaced
occasionally, as items expire):
- Bottled Water - Date the containers and replace
every six months. Each person should have 1 gallon
of water available per day.
- Non-perishable food - Power bars, hard candy,
canned or dried foods. If you are including canned
foods, be sure to also pack a can opener or pocketknife
with a can opener. Avoid foods that make you thirsty.
- Spare medication (in a ziplock bag).
- Matches (in waterproof container).
- Small umbrella for protection from rain or sunshine.
- Boots (with heavy socks) - for extended walking
or traversing heavy terrain.
- Spare eyeglasses - Even an old prescription is
better than none, if you were to lose or break
your primary pair of glasses.
- Disposable camera - for accident scene documentation.
Emergency preparedness is about common sense and
thinking about the essentials that we often take
for granted on a daily basis. First and foremost,
your emergency kit should have the basics that
protect your life and health, and second, some
basic tools that might help you get yourself to
a place of assistance. Third, consider items that
may provide some comfort in an emergency situation.
hope that you never have to employ your emergency
kit, but we hope this provides you with some food
for thought when preparing for the possibility.
US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA.gov)
US Department of Transportation (DOT.gov)