11 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 eleven other items that might help or even save you someday:

1. Jumper Cables

Energizer-Brand-Jumper-CablesHaving 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. I recommend these Energizer Jumper Cables. Energizer Jumper Cables, 16 Feet, 2 Gauge, 800A, Heavy Duty Booster Jump Start Cable – Carrying Bag Included They are high quality to get you on your way in minutes. Always make sure you carry at least 20 feet of cable as this will help you in most situations. And if you are unsure of how to use jumper cables, the Energizer site will have videos to teach you. Once you can find another car to help you, it is a two-minute fix to have your car back on the road!

2. Light Sticks

Glow-SticksGlow 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. Try these out. Cyalume SnapLight Green Glow Sticks – 6 Inch Industrial Grade Professional or industrial grade 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. Keep them out of direct sun.

3. Road Atlas

Road-MapsYou 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, Rand McNally 2021 with protective Vinyl Cover (Rand McNally Road Atlas) also 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!

4. Tarp

Waterproof-TarpsA 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! I like the Grizzly Tarp. B-Air Grizzly Tarps – Large Multi-Purpose, Waterproof, Heavy Duty Poly Tarp Cover It comes in many different sizes at great prices.

5. Rescue Tool

Seatbelt-Cutter-and-Glass-BreakerA 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. Check out this one. It comes in a package of two. Seatbelt Cutter and Window Glass Breaker 2 in 1 Quick Car Escape KeyChain Tool Neon – Pack of 2

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.

6. Multi-Tool

Leatherman-MultitoolA 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. I rely on this Leatherman multitool for most things. LEATHERMAN, Wingman Multitool It’s stainless steel and comes with a 25-year warranty. That tells you it is well made.

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.

7. Car Fire Extinguisher

Fire-ExtinguisherDo 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.

Most of us depend on our vehicles to get through each 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 had a hard time getting to your location.

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. This is a handy one to have. It’s made of tough steel and is refillable. Amerex B417, 2.5lb ABC Dry Chemical Class A B C Fire Extinguisher

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.

Weather-Radio-Combo8. 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 radios. If you get a battery-powered one, don’t forget to stock some batteries and don’t leave batteries in the radio for an extended time. Store them separately. 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. This one is a good model to keep with you. It’s not only a radio, but a light and SOS warning as well. RunningSnail Solar Crank NOAA Weather Radio for Emergency with AM/FM, Flashlight, Reading Lamp and 2000mAh Power Bank

9. Handheld Radios

Two-Way-RadiosAnother radio option is a handheld radio, or HAM radio. You might decide you want both a crank/battery-powered radio and a handheld radio, depending on your needs. Check out this radio. It is a strong powered, easy to use one. 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 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.

10. Tow Strap

Recovery-Tow-StrapA 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). Like this one. It has a working load of 10,000 pounds. Rhino USA Recovery  Heavy Duty Tow Strap

Be sure to look up how to properly use it before you do.

11. Blankets

Emergency-mylar-thermal-blanketsIt is a very good idea to have emergency blankets in your vehicle. Such as these Mylar thermal blankets. Emergency Mylar Thermal Blankets They take up little space, but can do wonders if someone goes into shock, or to prevent shock. They are good if your car breaks down to keep you warm while waiting for help to arrive. There are so many uses for these small but high strength blankets.


Ultimately, you decide what you want to stock in your car in case of an emergency, but think about including the items above. Consider 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! Get to it!



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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