15 Emergency Car Kit Essentials

15 Emergency Car Kit Essentials

Imagine this: You're on a deserted highway, miles away from the nearest town, and your car suddenly breaks down. It's late, dark, and the only living creatures are the occasional nocturnal animals scurrying across the road. Your phone battery is critically low and there's spotty reception. Sounds like the opening scene of a horror movie, right? Unfortunately, this isn't a movie – it's a potential reality and a common occurrence, but it's one you can prepare for.

Now, you may be thinking, 'I've got AAA and a fully charged phone. I'm covered, right?' While these are great tools to have, there are times and places where they might not come to your rescue. That's when your emergency car kit steps into the limelight. It's your silent traveling companion ready to spring into action and save the day when needed.

An emergency car kit is not just a box of tools and supplies – it's your ticket to safety when the unexpected happens. It's the difference between being stuck in a precarious situation and being able to take charge until help arrives. Or to step in as a Good Samaritan and First Responder and help save someone else from a bad day or possibly even save their life. Whether it's a flat tire, dead battery, overheated engine, unexpected snowstorm, an auto accident or something else – so much can go wrong on the road! – your car kit is there to help you navigate the situation safely instead of being helpless and unprepared.

Remember, it's always better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.

That's why it's crucial to have a well-stocked car emergency kit that includes both common-sense items and also those that often get overlooked. So, buckle up as we get down to business and explore 15 must-have items that could save the day when you're thrown a wrench on the road.

  1. Single Vehicle Jumper Cables - Being left stranded from a dead battery is a frustrating experience that can easily turn dangerous if you're in the wrong part of town, on a deserted stretch of road, or caught in extreme temperatures. It's also a situation that can easily be avoided with just a little preparation. Here's the thing - most jumper cables require a second vehicle to work. Instead of leaving yourself at the mercy of another motorist passing by (and their good intentions), we specifically recommend a portable jumper that doesn't need a second car – keeping you in the driver's seat and at the wheel of control.

  2. Food and Water - A basic requirement of any emergency kit, be it for your car, a bug out bag, or your home stockpile, you simply need a supply of food and water. Choose space-saving non-perishable food items like granola or protein bars for your car. When it comes to water, have a basic drinking supply on demand but also consider the season. For instance, in the summer, you might want a spare few gallons or a jerry can on standby in case your engine overheats.

  3. Portable Phone Charger - Batteries die, and it's usually when you need your phone most. We recommend investing in a portable charger or back up power bank so you can always keep your critical lines of communication open.

  4. Flashlight - The last thing you want is to be fumbling in the dark for basic items from your emergency kit or changing a tire without being able to see what you're doing. A flashlight is a crucial part of your car kit.

  5. First Aid Kit - Accidents can happen anytime, anywhere, and having essential medical supplies at the ready to provide immediate care can reduce the severity of injuries or even save a life until professional help arrives. Have a first aid kit handy and know how to use it.

  6. Emergency Blanket - Depending on where you live or travel, temperatures can drop quickly at night. Having an emergency blanket in your kit is critical for keeping yourself safe from hypothermia if you get stuck or stranded and have to wait for help to arrive. It can also help protect you or someone else from shock in the event of a serious car crash-related injury.

  7. Spare Tire and Jack - A flat tire can come from a sharp object, nail, or other debris on the road, and if you don't have a spare tire handy – it’s game over. Don't leave yourself stranded if your tire goes flat. Make sure you have the right size spare tire with you as well as the proper tools to change it, like a jack or electric impact wrenches.

  8. Reflective Warning Triangles - Now imagine you're changing that tire on the side of the road with traffic whizzing by...or you're broken down at night with a dead battery and waiting on a tow truck – but since you have no juice you can't put your hazards on to alert them to where you are. Having reflective warning triangles on hand lends a big, bright helping hand to these situations and more.

  9. Physical Map of Your Area/ Road Atlas - While most of us use our phones for navigation these days, phones can die or have no reception when you need them most. That's why having physical maps of your area and a road atlas are a critical yet often overlooked part of your car kit. When in doubt, old school paper maps are still the best way to get around without electronics.

  10. Multitool - A good multitool packs a lot of punch in a small package. It's ideal for making emergency repairs, adjusting screws, and even cutting or snipping items.

  11. Seatbelt Cutter and Glass Breaker - Bonus points if your multitool includes a seatbelt cutter and glass breaker. If not, they're commonly available as a 2-in-1 tool. Seatbelt cutters can be crucial for easily slicing through the belt without causing additional injury – and what if your seatbelt jams in an accident and your car is on fire? They can be crucial for your escape. Glass breakers can also save your life in an accident. What if your door jams? And if your car becomes submerged, you will not be able to open your door against the weight and pressure of the water. Equipping your car with these tools can make the difference between life and death.

    *NOTE: If you need to use your glass breaker, choose the side windows. Windshields are laminated glass, which you will NOT be able to break. Side windows are generally tempered glass, which you CAN break. Your windows will have a sticker letting you know what kind of glass they are. Some newer car models have laminated front side windows as well. Know your windows now so you don’t waste time when it’s of the essence.
  1. Sturdy Shoes and Work Gloves - A lot of roadside emergencies require manual labor, from changing tires to pushing a car out of the mud. Investing in a decent pair of work gloves and shoes will ensure you don't cut your hands or feet as well as provide stability on slippery surfaces. Plus, if you have to use your glass breaker in the emergency situation described above, gloves will help protect you from cuts. Finally, you might find yourself in a situation where you need to hoof it to a gas station or for help. What if you're wearing dress shoes or flip flops? Solution: keep a pair of sturdy shoes in your car kit.

  2. Compact Shovel - If you get stuck in snow, mud, or sand this can be a lifesaver. A collapsible shovel allows you to dig out your tires and get back on your way.

  3. Lighter - Keeping a lighter in your car emergency kit is a smart move due to its versatility in survival situations. In a bind, it can provide warmth and a way to cook food by enabling you to start a fire. It can serve as an emergency light source if you're stuck in the dark. A lighter can help with first aid too, as it can sterilize metal tools. In winter scenarios, it can be used to melt snow for drinking water, and it's also handy for stopping rope or cord from fraying.

  4. Hand sanitizer and wet wipes: Keeping hand sanitizer and wet wipes in your car can help maintain hygiene and cleanliness, especially when you're unable to access soap and water. In a pinch you can use wet ones as TP, and if you need to administer first aid, it's better with clean hands.
Take action now and prepare yourself for the unexpected. Gather these essential items and assemble your own car emergency kit. You’ll probably thank yourself later – car trouble and car accidents are incredibly common and something almost everyone will experience at some point in their life. Don’t forget about adding specific seasonal items like an ice scraper in winter.

Remember, being prepared is not just about having the common items; it's about going the extra mile and including those often-forgotten gems. With your well-stocked car emergency kit by your side, you'll be ready to conquer the road, no matter what obstacles come your way. So, gear up, so you can hit the road with confidence.

Let us know in the comments if your car kit has ever helped you survive.
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Thank you. Very good advice as somethings I hadn’t thought of.

Pamela Bielma

Interesting. Good info.

Steve Sheets

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