We talk extensively about the importance of having an emergency kit for you and your family. Often called a bug-out bag, an emergency kit contains everything you and your family needs to survive for 24 hours during or after an emergency or disaster, such as a severe weather event. Whether you decide to stay at home or leave the area, these kits must have essential medications, food, water, and other gear to keep you alive and at the very least, mildly comfortable. An emergency vehicle kit is like a bug-out bag, but slightly different. It contains the essentials such as water, warmth and nourishment, and additional supplies such as jumper cables and tools to fix a flat tire in case of mechanical failure or a tire blow out. The kit should remain in your car, easily accessible either in the back seat or in the trunk.
There are many reasons why you might find yourself stranded while driving—clogged evacuation routes, traffic due to accidents, tire blow out, mechanical failures, lost, bad weather, or flooded and impassable roads. I have found myself stranded in the middle of the city and out in the middle of nowhere due to icy conditions, car failure and flat tires. Sometimes it is necessary to pull over and wait it out until conditions or traffic clears, while other times you can phone for help. Either way, you need to keep some essential items in case of emergency in your vehicle.
When building your emergency vehicle kit, keep you and your family’s needs in mind. For example, being a single woman traveling long distances, you need to carry a form of self-defense. Before packing your firearm and ammunition, check the laws of every state you are passing through for its specific firearm transportation laws. If you have small children, you must carry diapers, extra formula, and a change of clothing, blankets and entertainment. For those dependent on medications or with special needs, make sure to keep an extra 24-hour supply of meds in your kit.
The following are 27 essential items you need to pack in your car emergency kit.
- Non-perishable snacks
- Bottled water
- Power cord to charge your cell phone
- A flashlight or headlamp
- Tow rope
- Duct tape
- Flare/distress signal
- Glass breaking and seat belt cutter tool
- Lighter or matches
- First aid kit
- Jumper cables
- Tire jack and tire iron
- Anti-freeze and coolant
- Motor oil
- Gas can
- Tire patch kit
- Rag or shop towel
- Plastic poncho
- Bungee cords
- Windshield scraper
- Enough cash for a tow
- Emergency number of local tow companies
- Compass or GPS
- Paper maps of the areas you are travelling in
During winter travel, you will need to add a few other things in case you are stuck in icy weather, such as kitty litter for traction. When temperatures drop, staying the night in your car is more challenging than the rest of the year. For more on winter weather travel, read “Build an Emergency Kit for Your Car” and “10 Safety Rules for Spending a Night in Your Car.”
Being prepared isn’t just about prepping for the apocalypse, but also about the everyday things that we cannot control like flat tires or bad GPS directions. An emergency vehicle kit will help you survive if you ever get stranded roadside.
What is in your vehicle emergency kit? Tell us in the comment section.