Create an Emergency Kit for Your Car

CAR ACCIDENTS - emergency items Photo Credit: Attapon Thana

An emergency kit in your car can be an invaluable aid in the case of breakdowns, bad weather, or unplanned events.

WHN TIP — Program your phone with emergency contacts. In the event of an emergency, emergency personnel may use your cell phone to alert your emergency contact. This can save time in retrieving lifesaving information (allergies, medication info, condition information, etc).

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!!).

For the Car

WHN Expert Tip – 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 – 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 long 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 the time
  6. Cellular phone and chargers
  7. Emergency cash ($20 or more)
  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 your agent or 1-800 number of company, health insurance app
  11. Paper, pen or pencil, scissors
  12. Pre-moistened towelettes
  13. Reflective vest
  14. Snack food (high-energy, non-perishable foods: canned nuts, granola bars, peanut butter)
  15. Umbrella
  16. Whistle (to attract attention)
  17. Pets – don’t forget they need an emergency kit!

Just For The Kids

WHN TIP – Don’t assume you’ll be able to communicate with emergency personnel in case of an accident. Better to have the information about the little ones readily available.

  1. Place a bright sticker on the child’s car seat with:
    • Name child responds to
    • Parent’/guardians’ contact
    • Two names/best phone numbers of local friends/relatives in case neither parent is able to care for the child.
  2. List of “medical must knows”
    • Any allergies the child may have, especially to medication
    • Any medical conditions the child may have or have had in the past (such as diabetes, asthma, etc.)
    • For a young baby, type of formula (if formula fed)
    • Name and phone number of child’s pediatrician
    • Anything else you would like medical personnel to know about your child (fears she may have, a favorite song that may help calm her, anything you can think of that would be helpful)
  3. Insurance information if applicable

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. Bookmarked 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. Small snow shovel
  10. Windshield washer fluid rated -40º proof

Read what to do when a winter storm watch and warning are issued and download the Red Cross Emergency app to monitor more than 35 different severe weather and emergency alerts.


Photo Credit: Attapon Thana

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