Create an Emergency Kit for Your Car

The time to prepare for an emergency is before it occurs. Whether it’s a flat tire or a roadside emergency, you should have the following items in your car.

Make kits for all cars, not just the “every day” car. Be sure the family knows where the kits are and that they are easily accessible (keep important survival items - food, water, blankets - in the backseat, NOT in the trunk!!).

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Always in Your Car

  1. Anti-freeze/coolant (one gallon)
  2. Battery powered portable radio and extra batteries
  3. Bright colored-cloth (preferably red)
  4. Can of motor oil
  5. Compass
  6. Cones, warning triangles or emergency flares should be kept in the trunk
  7. Disposable camera (to take photos of vehicle damage)
  8. Empty gas can
  9. Fire extinguisher (5 lb., A-B-C type)
  10. Flares
  11. Flashlight with spare batteries
  12. Fuses
  13. Jack for tires
  14. Jumper cables
  15. Maps
  16. Pocketknife
  17. Rags
  18. Roll of paper towels
  19. Sealant for small leaks in tires
  20. Shovel
  21. Spare tire

    WHN TIP: Expert Tip - Spare Tire

    Be sure to have your spare tire checked each time you have your tires rotated.

  22. Tire pressure gauge
  23. Tool box with screwdrivers, wrenches and a small hammer (keep this in glove compartment)
  24. Tow rope
  25. Window scraper for ice
  26. WhatHappensNow.com accident form to fill out in case of an accident


For You and Your Family

  1. Blankets
  2. Bottled water
  3. Small card with
    • information about family medical allergies or conditions
    • emergency phone numbers of family and friends
  4. Cards and games to pass time
  5. Cellular phone and charger, extra batteries
  6. Duct tape
  7. Emergency cash ($20 or more)
  8. Extra set of clothing, socks and underwear for each family member
  9. First aid kit
  10. Insurance: health and car insurance card, phone number of agent, 1-800 number of company
  11. List of contact numbers for law enforcement agencies
  12. Paper
  13. Pen or pencil
  14. Phone card and quarters (cell phones don’t always work in emergencies)
  15. Portable radio with spare batteries
  16. Pre-moistened towelettes
  17. Reflective vest
  18. Road atlas, maps
  19. Scissors
  20. Snack food (high-energy, non perishable foods: canned nuts, granola bars, peanut butter)

    WHN TIP: Can Opener

    Don’t forget a non-electric can opener to open canned goods.

  21. Umbrella
  22. Whistle (to attract attention)

Car Documentation

  1. Car owner's manual
  2. Car registration

Winter Items

To prepare for winter hazards, consider adding these items to your car before the cold weather and snow begins. These are especially important if you are driving during snowy weather. It is important that you can access your survival kit from the INSIDE of your car in case you’re stranded in a snowstorm.

  1. Air-activated hand warmer
  2. Chains, snow tires
  3. Extra blankets and sleeping bags
  4. Extra winter clothing (hats, jackets, mittens, and boots)
  5. Bag of sand - helps tires with traction
  6. Copy of WhatHappensNow Winter Driving article
  7. Matches and 'survival' candles in a three-pound coffee can (to warm hands, heat a drink or use as an emergency light)
  8. Metal cup (for melting snow and drinking)
  9. Snow shovel
  10. Windshield washer fluid rated -40º proof

Want more? Read these top tips from Car Coach and experienced mechanic, Lauren Fix, about the top 5 things to have in your car: