Last year I decided to prepare an emergency kit for my car. I drive an hour to work each way and have 2 kids, so I decided I’m not comfortable with leaving to chance the possibility of needing important things on the road. It took me about a week to compile everything and organize it. After I finished mine, I made one for my husband’s car. And then I put together 2 more for my parent’s cars (tailored to meet their reasonably expected needs on the road.) Here’s a list of what I put together. It should help you get started!

  • 12-foot jumper cables
  • Four 15-minute roadside flares (Mine are battery operated and reusable. They go on sale on woot.com every so often) If you have the ones your light, NEVER use these as a light source. Once you light one, make sure you put it on a level, non-flammable surface. These have the ability to catch grass on fire, or your emergency will increase 100-fold if there is a gas leak nearby.
  • Two quarts of oil
  • Power steering fluid
  • Gallon of antifreeze
  • Emergency radio
  • Bungee Cords
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Rain ponchos (one per person)
  • Length of paracord (I also have a paracord keychain, so I have some with me at all times)
  • Hand/foot warmers
  • Work gloves
  • Shoelaces
  • Bandanas – multiple uses
  • Binoculars
  • Light sticks
  • Hat (per person)
  • 0919131341
  • Facemasks (per person) Don’t get anything less than N95 particular respirators)
  • Whistle
  • Compass
  • Maps of local area and surrounding states
  • Small shovel (you can buy folding ones to take up less space)
  • In the winter, put a bag of ice melt or play sand in your trunk. Gives your car more weight on slippery roads, and also gives you something to gain traction if you get stuck in snow.)
  • Pepper spray (some people may be comfortable with this in the car, others may not. If you do have it, keep it in a sealed plastic bag. The canisters can rupture, and if it is not contained, watch out!) And keep it secure from children and pets.
  • Cash/coins.
  • Emergency phone numbers (how many of your family member’s phone numbers do you actually have memorized? We rely on technology WAY too much)
  • 0919131341a
  • Pair of sneakers and socks- this is especially important for women, who often wear shoes not befitting long walks or running. When you buy a new pair of sneakers, put the old pair with socks tucked inside of them in your trunk. That way, you’re never stuck in bad shoes in an emergency.
  • Blister treatment and moleskin – for when you forgot said sneakers and socks above
  • First aid kit: including an assortment of bandages, gauze, adhesive tape, antiseptic cream, rubber gloves, instant ice and heat compresses, scissors and aspirin).
  • Also consider more serious injuries and include an Israeli bandage, QuikClot, and strips of fabric. I also have burn gel, bug bite treatment, anti-itch cream, bug spray, and sunscreen in mine. Ace Bandages or flexible metal splits are a good addition.
  •  Feminine hygiene products are also useful for a variety of injuries, and for us women, nice to have extras of in the car!
  • Medicines: Keep a couple of any required Rx meds in LABELLED containers in the car – SECURE from where any kids or irresponsible persons could get to them. I also have OTC meds like tylenol (include kids and infants if applicable for you) allergy meds, Gas-X, and Rolaids. If you’re not keen on leaving them in the car in the heat/cold, keep a mini-kit of these in your purse or whatever bag you might carry with you each day.
  • Drip-Drop- I keep a couple of doses of this in my car. Mix it with water and it can rehydrate you or kids who get overheated and dehydrated.
  • Blanket. I have a nice soft one, and also one emergency blanket per person in my car
  • Umbrella
  • 0919131342
  • Water treatment: PurifiCup is a good choice. You can also buy tablets to treat water as well.
  • Extra fuses
  • Flashlight and extra batteries. A headlamp can also be useful. Ever need to change a flat in the dark? Hard to hold a flashlight at the same time. I also have a powerful little flashlight on my keychain so I have one at all times.
  • Tools: Flat head screwdrivers and Phillips head screwdrivers, pliers, Vise Grips, adjustable wrench
  • Tire inflator (such as a Fix-A-Flat)
  • Tire pressure gauge
  • Rags
  • Roll of paper towels
  • Roll of duct tape (or two. Can’t have enough of this!)
  • Spray bottle with washer fluid
  • Pocketknife or multi-tool
  • Ice scraper
  • Matches/lighter
  • Pen and paper
  • Small sewing kit
  • Empty plastic bags and ziplock bags
  • Cable ties (a gazillion uses for these)
  • Granola or energy bars, crackers, other snacks that don’t melt or go bad quickly. Hard candies are great.
  • Bottled water (at least 2 per person. I keep a pack of 24 in my van all the time)
  • VERY Useful Items: safety pins, deodorant, underwear and socks for each family member, hair brush, toothbrushes and toothpaste, floss, lip balm, ear plugs (Some of these have been a lifesaver- one time we went out of town on a daytrip, and while we were out, got a call from family saying there was an emergency. So we didn’t end up going home that night and it was really nice to have clean underwear, deodorant and dental hygiene items with us.)
  • Bar of soap: Put it in a plastic baggy so everything in your kit doesn’t smell like lilac or roses. Unless you LIKE your crackers to have a hint of lilac in them. Or, next time you stay at a hotel, save that hotel soap for your kit. Perfect size and pre-wrapped. The travel shampoos, conditioners and lotions are great too. Put them all in a ziplock and there ya go.
  • Plastic cups/utensils
  •  Baby wipes (SO useful when you want a shower and can’t get one. Or have children with sticky fingers)
  • Toilet paper- wiggle the paper roll out of the middle, flatten the roll of toilet paper and put it in a zip-lock bag. Takes up less space.
  • Kid items to prevent boredom: colored pencils (no crayons, they melt in heat) and coloring book or activity pad, small travel games, silly putty, books, battery operated radio, small toys (Happy Meal toys are great)
  • To prevent YOUR boredom: book, crossword puzzle book or the like, pen/pencil, deck of cards
  • A book of prayer or inspiration
  • Kid snacks: lollipops, crackers, non-melting candy, dried fruit. If your child has a favorite stuffed animal or security item and you can get an extra, keep it in the emergency kit. That way little Susie doesn’t have to go without her favorite teddy if you can’t get home to get the original. Could save you HOURS of screaming and perhaps your sanity.
  • Pottete Potty: if you have small kids and you get stuck where there is not potty, this is very useful. Yes, you could use the woods. But this $10 item unfolds to form a small seat and then the plastic bags fits on it and the kid and sit and do their business. I can even set this up in the van with the side door open. My kid has used this MANY times when we’ve been on the road and there’s no bathroom nearby.
  • For a Baby: small sealed container of formula, bottled water (to make the formula), extra bottle, pacifier, blanket, extra diapers and wipes, diaper rash ointment, plastic bags for dirty diapers, extra clothes, small toys
  • For a Pet: food, bowl for water, treat/bones (we have a dog), extra leash.
  • 0919131343
  • Heavy-duty nylon bag to carry it all in. My kit is rather extensive, so I have a shallow Rubbermaid container, a 2-tier Snapware container, and a heavy duty tool bag to hold everything. I keep the emergency medical items in the tool bag for the simple reason that it’s easy to grab if needed. Last year I saw a woman get hit by a car on my way home, and I stopped to help. There was little I could do in that particular situation, but I realized later that night that although no medical supplies were warranted in this case, if they HAD been needed, my emergency medical gear was not all together in easy reach. That night I rearranged my supplies, so next time, everything for a medical emergency is in one easy grab bag. It was also dark when the accident occurred, and so now I keep my flashlight and headlamp in the emergency medical bag for the same reason. Easy reach. No fumbling in different containers.
  • Other:
    • Store all things that could leak in individual zipper bags. Saves a lot of mess down the road.
    • Once you put your kit together that works for you, laminate a page listing the entire contents of your kit and tape it to the inside of your kit’s lid. That way, you know what’s in it, or a family member will know the contents if you’re not there when something is needed.
    • Update your kit as needed. If you use an item, replace it promptly. Throw out and replace any food items if they get “iiffy.” Add to your kit when your family situations change (new pets, new baby, etc.)
    • Some people would say to have a firearm and ammunition in the car. That is a very serious and very personal decision. You are responsible for the firearm if you vehicle is stolen, or if an unauthorized person would come across them. Know the law and your responsibilities and make your decision wisely. Check your state’s laws on concealed carry and open carry. If you cross state lines, you better know the rules of the states you are entering.