Create an Emergency Kit for Your Car

The time to prepare for an emergency is before it occurs. An emergency kit in your car can be an invaluable aid in the case of a breakdown, bad weather or some other unplanned event.

Make kits for all cars, not just the “everyday” 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!!).

WHN TIP – Save-Complete-Print: Download our Car Emergency Kit pdf, fill it out and print! (Don’t have the latest version of Acrobat Reader? It’s FREE, and you can download it here.)

For The Car

WHN Expert Tip – Get a Fire Extinguisher: Buying a fire extinguisher for your car? Know what type you need and how to use it. In these two videos, Edina, MN Fire Marshall Tom Jenson covers both points.

In the car

  • Battery-powered portable radio and extra batteries
  • Bright colored-cloth (preferably red)
  • Compass
  • Duct tape
  • Fire extinguisher (5 lb., A-B-C type)
  • Flashlight with spare batteries
  • Fuses
  • Rags
  • Road atlas, maps
  • Roll of paper towels
  • Sealant for small leaks in tires
  • Tool pouch with tire pressure gauge, pocketknife, screwdrivers, wrenches and a small hammer
  • Window scraper for ice
  • Our accidents forms, just in case: Car Accident-No Other Driver Involved and Car Accident-Another Driver Involved

In the trunk

  • Anti-freeze/coolant (one gallon)
  • Can of motor oil
  • Cones, warning triangles or emergency flares
  • Empty gas can
  • Jack for tires
  • Jumper cables
  • Shovel
  • Tow rope
  • Spare tire

WHN TIP – Spare Tire: Be sure to have your spare tire checked each time you have your tires rotated.

For the Driver/Passengers

Some items may only be needed if you are driving longer distances or if bad weather is anticipated.

  1. Blankets
  2. Bottled water
  3. Small card with
    • information about family medical allergies or conditions
    • emergency phone numbers of family and friends
  4. Car documentation: owner’s manual, car registration
  5. Cards and games to pass time
  6. Cellular phone and charger, extra batteries
  7. Emergency cash ($20 or more, plus quarters for pay phone)
  8. Extra set of clothing, socks and underwear for each family member
  9. First aid kit (Download the free Red Cross First Aid app information on handling the most common first aid emergencies.)
  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, pen or pencil, scissors
  13. Phone card and quarters (cell phones don’t always work in emergencies)
  14. Pre-moistened towelettes
  15. Reflective vest
  16. Snack food (high-energy, non-perishable foods: canned nuts, granola bars, peanut butter)
  17. Umbrella
  18. Whistle (to attract attention)

WHN TIP: Can Opener: Don’t forget a non-electric can opener to open canned goods.

Winter Items

WHN Expert Tips – Be Ready for Winter! Car expert Lauren Fox has advice for driving in winter weather in these articles: Don’t Get Iced By Winter: Winter Car Care TipsSurviving Stranded: Winter Driving & Your Safety and The Four Cs of Winter Driving Prep.

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 Driving in the Winter 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

Download the Red Cross Emergency app to monitor more than 35 different severe weather and emergency alerts.