Assembling a Car Emergency Kit with Printable Checklist

1An emergency can strike any time.  If you are away from home, you will only have what is with you to take care of yourself and your loved ones, and wouldn’t it be nice if those supplies included a well stocked car emergency kit?  Depending on your lifestyle, a car emergency kit could be more important than a home based 72 hour emergency kit.

There are a lot of things that can go wrong in a vehicle, but they break down to just a few categories of responses.

Possible car emergencies include:

  • Car trouble.  Mechanical problems, flat tire, dead battery, running out of gas in a remote area.
  • Somehow ending up off the road.  An accident or bad weather are usually the culprits.
  • A natural disaster around you.  Earthquake, tornado, flooding, severe storms.
  • An EMP or other large scale man made disaster.



I’m sure there are more, but you get the idea.  Whatever happens to you while you’re out in your vehicle will need responded to, and here’s where it all gets simpler.  Almost any vehicle emergency will boil down to doing one of these things:

  • Fix the vehicle and drive home.
  • Stay with the vehicle until help arrives.
  • Abandon the vehicle and hike out.

Most times the first or second options are best.  But there are the few occasions where you would need to abandon your vehicle and hike to a safer location.

For those who don’t think one of these scenarios could happen to them, one of the benefits of packing a vehicle emergency kit to respond to large emergencies is that the contents will also take care of numerous everyday emergencies.  Emergencies like needing a bandage, forgetting to take drinks to the soccer game, an unexpected potty stop, or a spilled drink.

So what do you put in your car emergency kit?  Here’s a list to get you started.  (Click here for a printable checklist!)

To Eat and Drink:

  • Water and/or a water filter.  I like to have both.  The water bottles get used regularly, and the filter is just for emergencies.
  • Food—high calorie bars, candy, maybe an MRE or some homemade survival bars.  My hard candy has to be replaced regularly due to being consumed by the little people.

To Be Found:

  • Communication—phone, CB, Ham radio, hand crank radio, plus any necessary chargers.  It’s a lot easier for someone to find you if you can tell them where you are.
  • Road flares.
  • Bright fabric or plastic for signaling.  Tie it to your antenna or hang it out your window.

To Get Your Vehicle Home Again:

  • Shovel
  • Spare tire (with air in it), jack, tire iron.  Know where they are and practice using them. 
  • Tire plug kit and a can of Fix-A-Flat.  More ways to solve the flat tire problem.
  • Jumper cables.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve used mine for myself or someone else.
  • Extra fluids.  Oil, wiper fluid, brake fluid, power steering fluid.
  • Sand or regular kitty litter for traction.  These can help you get back on a road if you’ve slid off.
  • Tire chains, tow strap.  Tire chains for heavy snow or deep mud driving.  Tow strap for getting yourself or someone else pulled somewhere.
  • Tools.  Basic tools are better than no tools.  Wrenches, sockets (make sure they’re either metric or standard sized to match your car’s nuts and bolts).  Screwdrivers, pliers.

To Make the Best of Being Stuck:

  • Blanket.  We have the Mylar emergency blankets and some real blankets.  The real ones get used a lot for picnics and ball games.
  • Warm clothes.  Depending on the season, this could be a light jacket or snow gear.
  • Hand warmers
  • Fire starting supplies—matches, lighter, fire starter helps.  I still love the dryer lint fire starters.
  • Diapers, wipes, pullups, change of clothes for potty trainers.  Of course this only applies if you have little ones.
  • Toilet paper, feminine hygiene products.  You ladies know this emergency.
  • Wipes, hand sanitizer, paper towels/shop towels.  For cleaning up.
  • Sunblock
  • Insect repellent
  • First aid.  At least bandages and common medications, but a more in depth first aid kit would be best.
  • Light—flashlight, glow sticks
  • Knife or multi-tool
  • Gloves.  Work gloves and/or winter gloves.
  • Duct tape, wire, rope, twine, cable ties.  You never know when you’re going to need to secure something.
  • Small tarp.  For shelter, ground cover, improvised pack, and whatever else you can dream up.
  • Rain ponchos, umbrella.
  • N-95 particulate filter masks
  • Cash or prepaid visa card.  Stashed discreetly
  • Walking shoes.  Especially if you are usually in your car wearing either dressier shoes or flip-flops.
  • Small pack for carrying supplies in case you need to hike home

Put all the supplies in a box or tote of some kind and keep it in your vehicle.  If you drive an open vehicle like a van or SUV, an opaque container will keep anyone looking in from seeing what is in your car emergency kit.  Also, do not be tempted to remove the kit when you’re going grocery shopping, just pack those groceries around your little box of security.


Posted by Angela

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