How to Build the Perfect Emergency Car Kit
Cars are dangerous, and there's always a chance of something going wrong while you're driving. Accidents happen, people get stranded in remote places and tires pop.
Don't despair. You can prepare for things that could happen. This is where emergency car kits come in handy. Here is everything you need to know about car emergency kits and what to include in yours.
What Is a Car Survival Kit?
A car survival kit is a bag that includes different tools and items you might need in an emergency. Well-stocked bags should be useful for a wide variety of situations, so you're not caught completely off-guard by anything.
Most items are kept together in the trunk, though some you'll want easy access to.
Who Should Have a Car Survival Kit?
You never know what could happen on your way to work or the grocery store, so it's good to be prepared.
That being said, if you live in a city, you probably will have enough signal to call a tow truck or emergency services if need be. For a day-to-day situation, having a kit in your trunk depends on how much peace of mind you want.
If you're planning on going on a road trip, however, you absolutely need a car survival kit.
Why You Need a Car Survival Kit for Every Road Trip
Traveling on the road brings unpredictable situations that are half the fun of the trip.
It can also bring you to remote places or landscapes you're not used to driving in.
Having your kit on you is the most important safety measure you can take.
Car Survival Kits Aren't Just For Emergencies
Even if you are lucky enough to never run into a car emergency, a kit is a good thing to have. Many of the things in kits can be used for daily situations.
Hungry but there are no food exits nearby? Get into your car kit supplies. Need water to wash your hands after peeing on the side of the road? Your kit has got your back.
Many of the items are also extremely useful for hiking and camping, so you can take them out of the car on a state or national park adventure.
What Should Be In a Car Survival Kit?
Car emergency kits will vary depending on your own specific needs and the weather and landscape of your home and destinations.
Building your own kit is useful because you'll have tools that are tailored to your plans.
Still, there are some general items that most car emergency kits should include.
Jumper cables should be in the trunk of every single person who owns a car. Don't let yourself get caught without one and stranded in a random place, waiting for Triple A.
Plus, jumper cables can help you get other people out of trouble — we've definitely relied on the kindness of strangers more than once.
These particular jumper cables come with a bag, so your trunk doesn't look like a tangly mess.
Add jumper cables to your emergency car kit at Amazon.
Anyone who's ever watched a survival movie knows the importance of flares. They also know the typical ones only give you a few shots at being rescued and have to be deployed at the right times.
These LED flares are battery-operated, so you can actually light them up for a while. They can be used to signal for help, which is particularly important if you get stuck somewhere remote.
But what's really great about them is that you can also place them in their stands and use them as emergency beacons while you change a tire on the side of the road. Particularly at night, this helps make you visible and lowers the chances of another vehicle striking you.
Add LED flares to your emergency car kit at Amazon.
First Aid Kit
This is one of the items that you will probably use over and over, especially on a road trip. Parents particularly will benefit from being prepared any time there's a scratch, fall or cut while on the road.
With 121 pieces, this kit will cover you in any situation, even if you have accident-prone children.
Add a first aid kit to your emergency car kit at Amazon.
In 2014, thousands of residents of Atlanta found themselves stranded on the road during an unexpected snowstorm. The main problem for them, particularly the ones who did not have nearby shelter, was the cold.
Emergency blankets are lightweight and built specifically to retain 90 percent of body warmth. Even if you don't get caught in a storm, you can use them for camping or hiking.
This eight-pack will protect you and all your passengers, with blankets left to spare.
Add an emergency blanket to your emergency car kit at Walmart.
Window Punch and Seat Belt Cutter
You should always have a window punch and seat belt cutter close to the front seat in case you get into a bad accident.
If you fall into water, a window punch will help you break the glass and escape.
Similarly, if your seat belt is stuck, you'll be able to cut it and get out of the car more quickly.
Add a window punch and seat belt cutter to your emergency car kit at Amazon.
Everyone knows a flashlight is a necessary tool. It'll help you if your car breaks down at night and you need to change something in the dark. It's also extremely useful for camping and hiking while on your road trip.
But if you want to be even more prepared, invest in a solar-powered flashlight. That way, you'll never get caught without batteries and unable to use it.
This awesome flashlight also comes with a USB port, so you can charge your phone with excess solar energy. It includes a seat belt cutter and glass breaker (in case you don't have it already) and has a magnet so you can stick it to your car while you fix your tire.
As the cherry on top, you get different settings of light that you can adjust to the circumstance, including a flashing emergency warning light. Oh, and it's waterproof and has a compass.
Add a solar-powered flashlight to your emergency car kit at Amazon.
You'll need a wrench and pliers to fix tires and battery issues. But it's good to have other tools just in case. The good thing about a tool kit is that you'll also use it in the house so you can easily retrieve it from your car whenever it's necessary.
This tool kit also has a hammer and a screwdriver, so you'll never find yourself unprepared.
Add a tool kit to your emergency car kit at Amazon.
Anyone who has gotten a flat tire on an isolated road or really close to home knows the pain of having to wait for emergency roadside assistance.
Fix-A-Flat helps to, well, fix flats by inflating tires and sealing punctures right away. You'll probably need to get your tire changed, but at least you won't be stuck who-knows-where waiting for a tow truck.
Add fix-a-flat to your emergency car kit at Amazon.
If you ever get stuck for a long period of time in the car, you're going to want some food. Granola bars are a nonperishable option that can last for years and that comes in handy on road trips when passengers begin to get hangry.
Having food in the car can also help in extreme situations. In 2011, a woman survived for 10 days on two candy bars and melted snow when her car was stuck in a blizzard.
Add granola bars to your emergency car kit at Walmart.
Remember how that woman survived on melted snow and two candy bars? Don't let yourself get caught in a situation where you might have to drink contaminated water that could make you sick.
Keeping bottled water in the car is a good way to avoid this. Water is even more important to your survival than food. Humans can survive for about three weeks with no food, but can only last three to four days without water.
On a less fatalistic note, you also can use your bottled water for picnics, hiking and camping. Or just to keep thirsty passengers from complaining.
Another option is to buy a sterilizing purifier or a personal water filter. This way, you will be able to have clean water wherever. (As long as you find a water source).
Add bottled water to your emergency car kit at Walmart.
There are endless ways to use duct tape in an emergency. You can put broken things back together, cover a hole in your tire and even use it to stop bleeding from a cut.
The point? Just keep duct tape around.
Add duct tape to your emergency car kit at Walmart.
It may seem like cash is obsolete these days, but a road trip may take you to rural areas where you need paper money. Avoid not being able to get gas because all your money is in the imaginary realm of the internet.
There are numerous options for keeping your car stash safe, like a magnetic case that goes under your car, or a small vault that you attach to the back of the car.
If that still makes you uneasy, you can always buy a secret stash can that is disguised as tire foam.
Add some cash to your emergency car kit at Amazon.
The only thing worse than having to change a tire that popped unexpectedly is having to do it in the rain. A foldable poncho will come in handy in these moments since it'll keep you dry while allowing you to move your hands.
You'll probably also use it for many other circumstances, like when you forget your umbrella and it's pouring or to go camping.
It's also great for music festivals.
Add a poncho to your emergency car kit at Amazon.
Originally used as a parachute suspension line, there is no limit to the ways paracord can be used. The cord is sturdy yet less bulky than rope, making it easy to use it to pull things, strap items to the car or to other items, to create a lift-and-pulley system and countless other things.
Some people even recommend using it to keep deep wounds from bleeding if you don't have a tourniquet around.
Add a paracord to your emergency car kit at Walmart.
Fire is what allowed humans to become the apex species, which should give you an idea of how important it is to be able to make fire.
This waterproof lighter will help you start fires to keep warm, cook food, scare wild animals and signal for help.
Because it relies on an electric charge rather than a flame, you can use it even if it's raining.
Add a waterproof lighter to your emergency car kit at Amazon.
Car Phone Charger
This item is probably already in your car. But if it's not, buy it ASAP.
A car charger is necessary in this modern world, where phones are used so much and phone batteries never last long enough.
Having a working cellphone is also pretty necessary for an emergency situation.
Add a car phone charger to your emergency car kit at Amazon.
This is another item that you'll use in everyday situations, but that can also help in an emergency.
Tissues will save you from messes when you're eating in the car and from ever being a victim to roadside bathrooms without toilet paper.
They're also great for sudden nosebleeds or cuts.
Add tissues to your emergency car kit at Walmart.
Yes, nature can be scary when your car breaks down, but running into the wrong people also is. Carrying pepper spray with you can help make you feel safer during road trips or for walking in dark parking lots.
This pepper spray is fairly simple. If you want something more hardcore, consider a 3-in-1 pepper spray that is also a seat belt cutter and a window breaker.
Add pepper spray to your emergency car kit at Walmart.
Even if you have roadside assistance, knowing how to change a tire is a necessary survival skill. If you ever find yourself unable to get help or unwilling to wait hours for it, you'll need a car jack.
Jacks help you elevate your car, making it easier to change tires. This one is not too large and very easy to use.
Add a car jack to your emergency car kit at Amazon.
If you are using a jack to change your tire, you'll want to have wheel chocks.
These handy items prevent your car from accidentally rolling off the jack, which can be deadly.
Add wheel chocks to your emergency car kit at Walmart.
If you're going to be fixing tires and jump starting cars, you'll end up pretty messy and maybe cut yourself. To protect your hands, keep a pair of working gloves in your emergency kit.
Besides cuts and dirt, they'll protect you from getting shocked.
Add work gloves to your emergency car kit at Amazon.
Having a shovel can save you from many situations, but it's particularly useful for people who live in cold areas where snow is common. A shovel can be the difference between being stuck after a snowstorm and being able to free your car.
This shovel is not only foldable. meaning that it won't take too much space when it's not in use. But it's also made with emergencies in mind. It can work as a fire starter, a saw, a hoe and a bottle opener.
It even has a whistle so you can call attention to rescuers.
Add a folding shovel to your emergency car kit at Amazon.
Snow Tire Chains
If you're lucky enough to live in places where it never snows, you can ignore this one. If you're not, we hope you already have this in your roadside emergency kit.
But for those unprepared souls who don't, having snow tire chains can save you when it snows unexpectedly and you don't have snow tires.
It'll keep you from getting stranded and make it less likely for you to skid on the road.
Add snow tire chains to your emergency car kit at Amazon.
Like snow tire chains, an ice scraper is a basic tool in every winter emergency kit for cars.
It doesn't have to be anything fancy and you can keep it on hand for those cold mornings when you need to take ice off your windows before going to work.
If you want to be even more prepared, you can buy a pre-made car survival kit specifically for winter.
Add an ice scraper to your emergency car kit at Amazon.
Or Buy a Pre-Made Kit
If assembling your own car emergency kit is too overwhelming, you can always buy a ready-made kit.
This basic kit has 4.7 stars on Amazon and includes many of the items on this list in a convenient bag. This way, you can simply buy one thing and store it in your car without thinking about it twice.
Add a pre-made emergency car kit at Amazon.