Emergency Supplies to Keep in Your Car

There are a lot of emergency situations in this world that you can prepare yourself for. You probably have a fire escape plan map up in your office, a first aid kit in your bathroom or kitchen, and maybe you’ve taken a self-defense course to make sure that you have the tools necessary should the worst happen.

What many people underestimate is just how much time they spend in their car. According to a 2015 survey conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, the average American driver spends 3.85 hours in their car every week going to and from work. And that does not include road trips, weekend getaways, and errands run around town.

With all that time out on the road, do you have the necessary emergency supplies to keep you safe during an emergency on the road? Will you be prepared if you suddenly break down or become stranded?

Though we all hope that these things will never happen to us, it is a good idea to keep a few key emergency essentials in your car at all times in the event that the need arises—and hope that you never have to use them.

Depending on how you use your car, where you live, and the available storage space, you may only need a few items on this list. Judge for yourself which items need, then get to work building your emergency car supply kit!

What You Need for Car Emergencies

You need three items to change a tire:

  1. A spare tire- All of the other components are useless without a spare!

  2. A tire jack- If you don’t have a jack, you can’t raise the car to change the tire. Be sure that you know how to use your jack to prevent extended roadside exposure to traffic.

  3. A lug wrench or tire iron- To remove the tire’s bolts and tighten them when the new tire is on. It is also a good idea to stash a can of WD-40 should the lug nuts be rusted or difficult to remove.

You need only one item to put out a fire:

  1. A fire extinguisher- Fire extinguishers come in portable cans, and they are easy to carry in a car.

You need only one item to get out of your car:

  1. A combination escape tool- The scariest thing about the road is the unpredictability of driving conditions. Should you find yourself trapped in your car after an accident, a combination seatbelt cutter and window breaker escape tool can make all the difference.

What You Need for Car Maintenance/Quick Repair

  1. Jumper cables- In the event your car battery dies, you need to have jumper cables on hand. Do not assume that the kind person who offers you a jump will have them.

  2. A tire pressure gauge- Whether digital or standard, a tire gauge is necessary to add the right amount of air to your tires.

  3. Duct tape- Duct tape is the perfect temporary fix for many issues, and it can be used in more ways than you can imagine.

  4. A pair of work gloves- If you need to touch any part of your car’s engine, you will need to wear gloves to ensure that you don’t burn your hands.

  5. A multi-tool- You can never underestimate the value of a multi-tool. A good multi-tool comes with a screwdriver, scissors, a small knife, a bottle opener, and pliers. There are some expansive multi-tools that come with as many as 21 different components, but are less than 5 inches tall.

  6. Your car owner’s manual- Unless you know your car inside and out, you’ll likely have to reference the manual to make any serious headway with a fix.

What You Need to Keep Safe While Waiting for Help

  1. A flashlight- Whether you need to inspect your engine, flag down a car, or walk along a road at night, a flashlight is a must-have in the car.

  2. A reflective triangle/road flares- You need to ensure that other cars can see you and your vehicle on the side of the road. A triangle or flare can help you avoid another accident and serious injury.

  3. A bottle of water- You never know how long you might be stuck waiting for help. No matter the climate, keeping a bottle of water in the car is absolutely imperative.

  4. Emergency food- No one is recommending that you keep a major food stash in your car, but keeping something easily stored like nutrition or meal replacement bars (Cliff Bars or Pro Bars) can be lifesavers. Literally.

  5. A Mylar blanket- You never know what a roadside emergency can bring, and you may very well need a blanket for insulation, first aid, or sun protection.

What You Need for First Aid

  1. A basic first aid kit- Even the most basic first aid kit with gauze and band aids is better than no first aid kit at all. Premade first aid kits are available just about anywhere, and can range from 12 to over 100 pieces. You never know when you or someone around you will need first aid.

What You Need for Anything Else

  1. A car-adapted charger for your phone- Doesn’t your phone always die at the worst times? Imagine having your phone die when you need to call for help. Keeping a phone charger handy is a must no matter how short your trip.

  2. A pack of tissues- Sneezing into your hands and then grabbing the steering wheel is gross. Grab a tissue.

  3. An umbrella- Just in case it rains.

If this list seems cumbersome, remember that it can all fit between your glove compartment and a small bag in your trunk. It is always better to be safe than sorry, and keeping an emergency kit in your car is the smartest and safest decision you can make before heading out onto the road.