10 Items for Your Vehicle Emergency Kit

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A vehicle emergency kit for your car is very important. Most of us spend a lot of time in our vehicles. You are probably a fairly safe driver, but accidents happen, and so do natural disasters, car failure, and other unplanned events. Preparation is key to arriving to your destination safe and secure.

A car emergency kit should be personalized for you based on your habits, what climate you live in, and what you will know how to do in an emergency. For instance, if you don’t know anything about fixing cars, it might not be any good to pack a bunch of tools into your trunk. However, a few standard ones might be helpful if someone comes along that does know what they are doing.

Living in a colder climate means you should think about putting a wool blanket or space blankets and some hats and mittens in your car. So try to think about what you might need based on your own life and location.

Some basic supplies to add to your kit include a pen and pad to write on, at least one spare charger for your phone, an LED flashlight and extra batteries, a well-stocked first aid kit, some paracord, duct tape, and a pair of sturdy work gloves. And don’t forget to carry some coins and a bit of cash in small denominations. You may need it!

Many people also stock a little food and water in their vehicles but take into account the heat and cold extremes of your area if you do this.

Beyond the basics, here are ten other items that might help or even save you someday:

  1. Jumper Cables

Having jumper cables in the car used to be quite common, but now a lot of people just don’t have them. Do not be one of these people. A car battery drains easily when you are sitting there on your lunch break, charging your phone, with the music and the air both blasting. You can look up a video and learn how to use jumper cables very easily. Once you can find another car to help you, it is a two-minute fix to have your car back on the road!

Energizer Jumper Cables, 16 Feet, 2 Gauge, 800A, Heavy Duty Booster Jump Start Cable – Carrying Bag Included

  1. Light Sticks

Glow sticks, or light sticks, come in many colors, although green is the most common for emergency sticks. While you might tend to think of parties when you see a glow stick, it is an extremely useful tool. Professional light sticks are made to be brighter, more durable, and longer lasting so you can use them in emergency situations.

Things to remember: heat can cause light sticks to degrade more rapidly, and their average shelf life is about five years.

Cyalume SnapLight Green Glow Sticks – 6 Inch Industrial Grade, High Intensity Light Sticks with 12 Hour Duration (Pack of 20)]

  1. Road Atlas

You might not think that having a physical book of maps is very important, but you will be grateful for your road atlas in an emergency. While most of us use some form of GPS these days, many issues can happen that will cause power or data connections not to work. You won’t be able to use any online maps in these cases. Having physical maps of your area and knowing how to use them will help you navigate to safety, should the need arise.

When you buy your atlas, look for some local maps of your home area as well. Just like you do on your online maps, mark certain spots (and the best routes to get there) where you know you can find safety or shelter in an emergency. Then, when something does happen, you won’t have to try to figure out what to do when you are already stressed!

Rand McNally 2021 with protective Vinyl Cover (Rand McNally Road Atlas)

  1. Tarp

A tarp is one of the easiest and most versatile pieces of equipment that you can carry in your car. Although you will want to carry one in case of emergency, you will probably find yourself using your tarp for a lot of everyday things, as well. A tarp can be used as shelter in sudden rain—for you or your stuff, it can be set on the ground for protection against dirt and mud, and it can be put up overhead as a canopy to keep off scorching sun. Of course, there are many other uses, but you get the idea!

B-Air Grizzly Tarps – Large Multi-Purpose, Waterproof, Heavy Duty Poly Tarp Cover – 5 Mil Thick (Blue – 8 x 10 Feet)

  1. Rescue Tool

A car rescue tool is one that is specifically designed to cut seat belts and shatter glass. It can save your life in a frightening and dangerous situation.

In a car accident, you can become trapped inside the car. Often, due to the type of crash, the doors and windows get stuck and the seat belt becomes trapped against your body. You can’t escape the car, but you know you have to get out. A rescue tool lets you slice through your seat belt and smash the glass in your side window so you can crawl out to safety.

resqme Seatbelt Cutter and Window Glass Breaker 2 in 1 Quick Car Escape KeyChain Tool Neon – Pack of 2

  1. Multi-Tool

A multi-tool is a great way to have all the basics at hand in one convenient tool, especially because there often is not a lot of room for tools in the car. This is one of those items that is great to have on hand, like a tarp, because it will be useful all the time, not just during emergencies.

With a multi-tool, usually you will get Phillips and flat-head screwdrivers, a cutting blade, scissors, pliers, wire cutters, and a bottle opener. Some models even have more tools than that.

LEATHERMAN, Wingman Multitool with Spring-Action Pliers and Scissors, Built in the USA, Stainless Steel with Nylon Sheath

  1. Car Fire Extinguisher

Do you know what to do if your car or someone else’s car catches on fire? Did you know that 1 in 7 fires nationwide involves a vehicle? Fires are a real and devastating possibility, so having the proper car fire extinguisher is a good idea.

You probably depend on your vehicle to get through your day. Perhaps you have had your car overheat and start smoking, seen a roadside wildfire, or been in an accident where sparks ignited. Help didn’t arrive immediately because firefighters and medics can’t travel to your location instantly.

You will feel more relief knowing you can make a difference in your own or someone else’s life because you have the tools to start putting that fire out.

Things you need to know:

  • Get a Class ABC extinguisher for your vehicle, or you could just make a fire worse.
  • Safety First! Make sure you are personally safe in any situation.
  • You are not a firefighter; call the real ones.
  • Educate yourself! Learn how to use your fire extinguisher before you need it.

Amerex B417, 2.5lb ABC Dry Chemical Class A B C Fire Extinguisher

  1. Radio

A radio is important in any emergency kit. Stowing one in your vehicle makes sense because you won’t have to worry if you end up stranded somewhere without any other way to communicate. The radio will already be in your car.

Radio waves travel very far, much further and more easily than the LTE your phone uses. This makes it simpler for a radio broadcast to get to as many people as possible, even those in out-of-the-way places. This could be you, alone and lost and in need of help. This could also be you at a time of mass emergency, waiting to hear a broadcast so you know where to go for help.

You can choose from a few different types of radio. If you get a battery-powered one, don’t forget to stock some batteries too. You can also get a crank radio, which doesn’t run on electricity or batteries. This model is particularly nice because it runs on batteries, solar power, and has a crank.

RunningSnail Solar Crank NOAA Weather Radio for Emergency with AM/FM, Flashlight, Reading Lamp and 2000mAh Power Bank (Green)

  1. Handheld Radios

Another radio option is a handheld radio, or a HAM radio. You might decide you want both a crank/battery-powered radio and a handheld radio, depending on your needs. The biggest difference is that with a handheld radio, you can listen to and also communicate to others. However, keep in mind that, depending on the model you buy, range is often limited.

BaoFeng BF-F8HP (UV-5R 3rd Gen) 8-Watt Dual Band Two-Way Radio (136-174MHz VHF & 400-520MHz UHF) Includes Full Kit with Large Battery

  1. Tow Strap

A tow strap is a rope made of semi-stretchy polyester hooked to the back of one vehicle and then used to pull another vehicle. It can come in handy to get your car back on the road when it slides off due to ice, snow, or rain. You can also use your tow strap to have someone pull your car to the nearest gas station if you accidentally run out of gas.

Buy a strap that is strong enough to handle at least 6,000 pounds (or more, depending on your vehicle). Be sure to look up how to properly use it.

Rhino USA Recovery Tow Strap 3″ x 30ft – Lab Tested 31,518lb Break Strength – Heavy Duty Draw String Included – Triple Reinforced Loop Straps to Ensure Peace of Mind – Emergency Off Road Towing Rope


Ultimately, you decide what you want to stock in your car in case of an emergency. Think about what kind of area and climate you live in, what you know how to do, and your habits. Then find a container and start your kit. There is no time like the present to be prepared!



Survival has been a necessity ever since the world began and has continually built upon itself. However, few could pull out of their hats the skills to survive if, and when, called upon to do so. With all that is going on in today's world, this knowledge is an important tool, one that each of us needs to hone. This is why I founded this site.

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