Emergency Kit for Every Car

Since it is impossible to know when or if disaster will strike while you’re on the road, it is important to be prepared for emergency situations before they happen. Below are several items you should consider including in an emergency car kit so that you can be prepared for the unexpected.

Basic First Aid Kit

Having a basic first aid kit will help you be ready for minor wounds and injuries you may encounter in an accident or other emergency situation. Make sure your first aid kit is stocked with small and large bandages, pain relievers, antibiotic ointment, gauze, tweezers and scissors.

Non-Perishable High Energy Foods

If a car accident or emergency has you stranded, it’s important that you have high energy foods to keep your body fueled. Since these items will likely remain in your car for a long time, it is important to stock non-perishable foods like granola bars, raisins, peanut butter, MREs (meals ready to eat), etc.


Water is important for several reasons: it can be used to help clean wounds, help keep you hydrated, help cool down an overheated car. Keep in mind that if you are stranded somewhere for a couple days, you will need water to survive more than food. Look for water packets with a long shelf life (at least 5 years) as these are easy to store and don’t take up much room.

Flashlight/Light Sticks

If you are stranded at night, need to change a flat tire in the evening or try to flag someone down, a flashlight and light sticks can help.  Light sticks are great because they can last up to 12 hours, provide sufficient light to attract attention and light your path. Remember to store batteries for your flashlight separate from your flashlight since they can corrode if left in the battery compartment.

Disposable Camera

A disposable camera is a must have if you are in a car accident. If you have to go to court to seek damages from another person, you need to know that photos from a digital camera may be contested easier than photos captured on film since digital photos are easier to manipulate. For information on what kind of pictures to take after an accident, see How to Preserve Evidence after a Car Accident.

Pocket Knife

Having a pocket knife with multiple tools like a screwdriver, bottle opener, blade and pliers is always a good idea. You never know how you may need the assistance of one of these tools after going through a car accident or emergency situation.  For example, a pocket knife should enable you to cut through any seatbelts that won’t release.

Cell-Phone Charger

Being able to communicate with emergency personnel and family is important after being involved in a car accident or other emergency situation. Since you can’t predict where your car will break down or where you will be involved in an accident, it is important to have access to a mobile communication device if a landline phone is not an option.  Making sure your phone works when you need it is essential. For this reason, it is important to keep a cell-phone charger in your glove box for emergency situations.


It is important to have access to the tools you need if your car breaks down on the road. Screwdrivers, wrenches, and pliers are all things you should consider keeping in your car (the spare tire well is a good place to store these) so that you are prepared for common roadside mishaps, like flat tires.


Having a poncho or raingear handy will help you be prepared for roadway emergencies that occur in inclement weather.

Road flares/Reflective Triangles

It is important to be able to warn on-coming traffic of an accident or roadway emergency so that they can drive with due caution and not cause additional accidents. Road flares should only be used as warning signals and not for light.


Depending on where your car breaks down or where your accident happens, it is important to be able to create a fire if you are going to be stranded overnight. Keeping waterproof matches as part of your car emergency kit is always a good idea.

Battery-Powered Radio

If you are going to be stranded for several days, having access to information about the weather, current events and emergency information is essential. Since your car is generally always within close range of you, it is a good place to store a battery-powered radio so that you are prepared no matter what the emergency is.

Winter Gear

If you live in a state where cold winters are the norm, it is important to include a blanket, hats and gloves in your emergency kit. The ability to stay warm when you are stranded or in an accident may be paramount to your survival.


After reading through this list, you may wonder how you can possibly store all of these items in your car.  When you are putting together your emergency kit, it is important to think creatively about how to store each item. Since most of these items are things you will rarely need, it is not important that they be easily accessible from the driver’s seat. Tools, water supply, radios, road flares and non-perishable foods can all easily be stored in your spare tire well. Smaller items, like matches, pocket knives, flashlights, first aid kit and disposable cameras can be stored in your glove compartment or under seats. When storing emergency supplies under your seats, be sure to secure them with a bungee cord so that they stay in place while your vehicle is in motion.

While some people prefer to gather the supplies to make their own emergency car kit, prepackaged emergency kits are available from a variety of retailers. These kits often include most of these items in a compact carrying case that make it easy to store everything in your vehicle.

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