Welcome back! I don’t know about you, but I’ve been having fun so far with the Practical Preparedness Series. I’ve even been motivated to take on my big task I’ve been putting off for almost a year — my 72 hour kit. This week we’re talking about creating an emergency car kit. These kits are small, inexpensive to prepare, and possibly the most useful of all the kits we’ll be talking about this month. Disclaimer: I am not a prepping expert. I would still consider myself a beginner. I merely intend to share my experiences and [limited] knowledge in order to help others prep on a budget.*This post contains affiliate links.
The first kit I ever made was an emergency car kit. I also handed out a few to friends and my mom as Christmas gifts that year. And let me tell you, this kit has gotten the most action by far. Whether you’re traveling or just driving home from work, having some emergency supplies in your car is really important.
Two years ago we had a really bad snow storm. It was horrible here, and even worse North of me. A friend of a friend slid her car into a ditch when she was on her way home from work. She was stuck in her car, unable to open the doors because of snow drifts with a dead phone for almost 10 hours. Thankfully, she was able to get help and was completely okay. Situations like this are surprisingly common and can be very dangerous.
Again, we’re talking about practical preparedness, so the items listed below are relatively inexpensive. Previously we talked about tips to budget your preps, so be sure to check out our previous posts if you’re late to the game. The kit I have in my car cost around $80 to put together!
Food & Water
I know, I know. I’m always talking about food. I like food, okay? But keeping some small items with nutritional value like protein bars, trail mix, and beef jerky in your car is essential. It’s essential to keep hydrated and nourished in case you’re stuck in your car for an extended period of time. Be sure to rotate stock so nothing expires. I like Lara Bars anyway, so eating them before they expire is no problem for me.
NOTE: Water kept in cars has been linked to cancer due to heat causing the bottle to leech chemicals. If I was trapped in my car, I would much rather have a small chance of developing cancer as opposed to the threat of dehydration. Please keep this in mind and drink water that’s been in your car for an extended period of time at your own risk. For this reason, I also keep an empty BPA-free bottle in my car and also carry one (usually filled and in use) in my backpack. This gives me the ability to get water from another source if available, or if I’m just thirsty on a long trip.
First aid supplies are necessary, especially on the road. I keep a kit in my car that’s great for everything from a paper cut to that time I fell on a trail in the Smokies and dislocated my knee.
First aid kits are highly customizable; I got a small first aid pouch for $4 at Target and stocked it with band aids, antibiotic ointment/spray, gauze pads, alcohol swabs, some pain medication, and a small pair of scissors. Do you thing — maybe you want to include a fold away splint (I needed one of those in the Smokies). I keep my first aid kit separate from the other stuff, in the glove compartment. It gets way too much use to be put in the hatch. Just be sure if you’re using it often that you restock so you’re never caught without.
Be sure to include some essential car safety items in your emergency car kit. These are the items you’ll need if your car breaks down both to get yourself back on the road, and to remain safe while doing it. You can buy prepacked kits like this one, or you can make your own. Stock up on items like road flares, reflective triangles, jumper cables, bungee cords, and Fix-a-Flat, and LED or snap glow sticks. I also keep an old, fully charged and powered down cell phone and charger in my kit. A phone without service can still call 911 or 999 in the event of an emergency, take photos of damage to your car in the event of an accident, and be used as a flashlight.
Consider other items that you may need in the event of an emergency, or if you’re going to be in your vehicle for a long period of time. A few pretty straight-forward things have a permanent home in my car like a flashlight (or three), lighter, duct tape, poncho, hand warmers, some cash (bills and change), an all weather blanket, and zip ties.
I always keep a multi-tool in my kit because the uses are almost limitless; you can tighten or loosen a screw, cut rope, or just open a beer at the party you just stopped at.
I also have a pen and paper stashed away in my emergency car kit and center console for taking down insurance information and plate numbers in the event of an accident or reckless driver you may need to call in to the police.
Another great thing a friend turned me on to is these handy little car hammers. They’re all over Amazon, and I even found them in the automotive section at my local superstore. These babies are equipped with a double-sided window hammer for breaking glass and a steel blade for cutting seat belts. I have one in my glove compartment and I snuck them into my parents and best friend’s cars.
Recently I’ve also added a whistle to my kit in the event that I were to roll into a ditch and was unable to get out of my car. The ones made specifically for emergencies are LOUD and will attract attention in no time.
And yes, I finally caved. I got myself a Go-Girl — Well, I bought 3. For those of you who haven’t met this thing, it’s ah-freaking-mazing. Go-Girl is a little medical grade silicone cup made for females that lets you pee standing up. That’s right, no more covering questionable public toilets in 22 layers of toilet paper or trying to crouch and failing in the woods. Plus they’re reusable and so inexpensive, you can buy I have one in my emergency car kit and a couple stashed with my hiking and camping gear.
Shop around and compare prices to get the best deal and find the items that work the best for you. I’ve had my car kit for a few years now and I couldn’t be happier with the outcome.
What’s your one biggest takeaway from this post? Do you already have a emergency car kit, or are you planning on getting one together? Let me know in the comments below!
Missed a week? Find the rest of the series below!