After two long years of (Im)patiently waiting and saving for a new vehicle, my husband and I were FINALLY able to replace my tiny little, 10 year old car with 205,000 miles on it with an SUV! To say I’m excited is a huge understatement.
My previous mode of transportation went to my little sister, who was equally excited for her own wheels. It was a win-win situation 🙂 However, I left my previous “Emergency Kit” in the car for her to use, meaning I was without. I took this opportunity to really put some thought and research on the All-Knowing-Internet into building a truly useful Vehicle Emergency Kit for our family.
Misty Marsh writes at one of my favorite prepping sites, Your Own Home Store, and wrote a great post about her own Emergency Car Kit, so I kind of combined her ideas with things from my husband’s Get Home Bag, and personalized it for Little Man.
When we put together my husband’s Get Home Bag, we prepared it only for him. 99% of the time, he is the only one in that vehicle, and we took that into consideration. When designing my own car kit, we needed to take into account that if all three of us go somewhere, 99% of the time, we’ll take my vehicle. If we have guests, we’re taking mine. If it’s just Little Man and I we are definitely taking my vehicle. Because of this, we have supplies for AT LEAST the three of us, but some supplies, like water, we have extra for guests as well. This is a fairly extensive kit, and it takes up some room, but in the time I’ve had it (2 week or so…) I’ve used at least one thing from each component. To me, it has already proved it’s worth.
Like Misty, I separated my kit into three categories:
- First, I wanted to prepare for minor, everyday “emergencies.” For example: Little Man screaming his head off for no apparent reason, me subsequently having a headache, being thirsty, leaving the diaper bag at home (which happens more often than I’d care to admit,) a boo boo at the park, etc.
- Second, I wanted to prepare for Emergencies involving the vehicle: The car not starting, having a flat tire, getting stuck in a ditch for whatever reason, overheating…things of that nature.
- Last, I wanted preparations for major emergencies: Natural disasters like a tornado or snowstorm, EMP (heaven forbid), etc. Mostly things that would require us to leave the car and seek shelter elsewhere. I realize that in MOST instances, our best option will be to stay in the car, and in MOST cases, that will be my first instinct, but just in case we have to leave the car, we will be prepared to do so.
So… What’s in My Kit?
For Minor, everyday “Emergencies”
- Mini First Aid Kit plus extra meds- Just some bandaids of various sizes, alcohol wipes, and a pair of gloves along with the medications (Sunscreen, Ibuprofen, Benadryl, Asprin, Children’s Motrin, Children’s Benadryl, and Sting Relief gel)- I don’t necessarily LOVE using conventional medicines, and I generally carry a few of my favorite essential oils in my purse; however, Benadryl and Asprin can save lives (think: allergic reactions and heart attacks), and Motrin/Ibuprofen/Advil (all the same product) is a miracle worker in my opinion haha so I certainly like to have all of those on hand. Even if I don’t need them, someone else might. Quick medical tip: Benadryl in liquid form works faster and is easier to swallow if your throat is closing up because of an allergic reaction… So even if you don’t have kids, its a good idea to have in an emergency kit.
- Feminine Products- Besides the obvious, “sanitary napkins” and tampons can come in handy for covering cuts and wounds since they are clean and “sanitary.”
- Car Phone Charger
- Sippy Cup
- Paci- We’re trying to get rid of this thing, but for now I keep one in the car
- Snack Cup with snacks for Little Man- Helps minimize crumbs 🙂 (…I said minimize, not eliminate haha)
- Baby Wipes- These have MILLIONS of uses besides their actual intended use
- Small toys or entertainment for Little Man- We rotate these often so he doesn’t get bored with them
- Hand Sanitizer- Of all the things I keep in my car… this might be the most used and most important
- Water Bottle- I keep a filtered Camelback in my cup holder. It gets used frequently. I just have to remember to wash it out and fill it back up with fresh water
- Lotion- Lifted from a hotel 🙂
- Hair Ties
- Hair Clip
- Rubber Bands
- Paper with Pen & Sharpie
- Flashlight– I love these Mini Cree lights! They’re small and lightweight, but they’re strong and bright. And only $4!
- Grocery sacks- For dirty clothes or shoes, vomit (heaven forbid), trash….you name it
- Cash and a roll of quarters– I try to keep about $50 in small bills (mostly ones) plus quarters for vending machines, pay phones (if you can find a working one), and the car wash… wait…that’s not an emergency? 🙂
- Sunglasses for each family member
- Sun & Bug Spray– Because even in an emergency, the sun and mosquitos will still be out!
- Granola Bars- You never know when you’ll need a little snack 🙂
- Napkins- I collect free ones whenever we order/eat out and stash them in the car
- Umbrella- Stays in the driver side door
Most of this fits into a little box inside the center console. I just covered a box in black duct tape so it wouldn’t look as ghetto 🙂
For Car Emergencies:
I like to start with a Pre-Made Kit, and add things to it. Although you’ll be hard pressed to find a kit that has EVERYTHING you need in it, It will have several useful things and will likely be cheaper than buying them separately. This kit made by AAA is the one I started with.
Along with the pre-made kit, I have also added:
- Tow Rope
- Road Atlas of the United States– We don’t travel outside Oklahoma or Texas often, but we did take a trip over Christmas so I bought this just in case, and it stays in the kit
- Shop Towels- Paper Towels on steroids 🙂
- Fix A Flat
- Hand Crank Weather Radio– One with a two-way function would be a better option, but this works for now!
- Flashlight and extra batteries- I love these Dorcy lights when I need something a little bigger than the Mini Cree. We keep these in the car (obviously), on our nightstands, and with our severe weather emergency supplies.
- Fire Extinguisher– Be sure NOT to leave this loose in your car! Mine came with a bracket so it can be secured in the trunk or under a seat. I keep ours inside the tub so I didn’t secure the bracket, but you definitely DON’T want one of these flying around in your car if you have an accident so just make sure it’s not loose.
- Extra Snacks- As I mentioned above about medications, I don’t necessarily LOVE using packaged snacks, but homemade ones don’t hold up to the heat of the car so well, and these are only to be used in emergencies. Make sure you pick things your kids will actually eat. (AKA not so much the 3000 calorie emergency ration bars)
- Extra Water- I have a few of these Water Pouches that are lined with aluminum (think: BPA free and therefore NOT leaching cancer-causing chemicals into your water), but I would like to get several more of them. They’re a tad on the expensive side, but they stand up to heat better than plastic bottles, and they have a 5 year shelf life vs. 1 year for your typical water bottle. Until I’m able to get some more pouches (hopefully within the next couple of weeks), I keep an entire case of plastic water bottles in the trunk. Not ideal, but they’ll do in an emergency.
- Winter Items- Like my Husband’s Get Home Bag, we rotate supplies at least every 6 months to accommodate for season changes and expired food/meds; however, there are a few things that will stay in the car year-round despite the weather.
- Heat Cells (2)
- Fleece Stadium Blanket
- Hand Warmers
- Knit hats and gloves (One set for each family member)
All of this stays inside an “under the bed” storage tub in the trunk.
In the Glovebox:
- Insurance Card
- Car Manual
- Family Emergency Information Sheet <– Free download!
- Tire Gauge
- Seatbelt Cutting/Window Breaking Tool
- Ice Scraper
Some of the most important things to have in your vehicle include a jack along with a spare tire (that is aired up and ready to go…Yes, I’m talking to you… You who has the nail in his “spare” from two years ago… Go get that replaced!)
I also believe that it is very important to have gas in your car at all times. I’m preaching to myself here, too, but please try to keep your gas tank AT LEAST half full. If you need to get out of town fast, you don’t want to be waiting in line behind 15 other people waiting to get gas. And if you’re worried about people stealing your gas, they make a nifty Locking Gas Cap to help prevent that. We have one on my husband’s truck, and we’ll likely put one on my new car as well.
For Major Emergencies:
This part of the kit is very similar to my husband’s Get Home Bag. I keep it in a backpack so we can quickly leave if we need to. I have little piece of paper that lists emergency contact numbers on one side, and has a list of other things I need to grab before leaving the car on the other. This paper goes inside a plastic ID holder on the outside of the backpack.
- Hat for each family member- Protection from the elements and to hide mine and Little Man’s white-blonde hair 🙂
- Pocket Knife
- Flashlight with extra battery
- Mini Multi-tool– Would like to upgrade to a full-size one soon
- Bandanas– Can serve as a mask in case of debris
- Rain Poncho
- First Aid Kit with extra meds (see Minor emergencies First Aid Kit above)
- Cash- Another $50 in small bills
- Glow Sticks– Some green ones for light and some red for flares
- Toilet Paper- the center stuffed with cotton balls rubbed in vaseline to act as a fire starter
- Work Gloves
- Dust Mask for myself and my husband- backup to the bandanas
- Change of clothes for each family member
- More diapers and a small package of wipes
- Sleeping Bag (SOL Emergency Bivvy)– We just have a single size one, but it’s plenty big enough for all three of us to squeeze in if we needed to. We may upgrade to a double size in the future.
- Duct Tape
- Trash bags- Can double as extra rain ponchos or be used as a temporary shelter, another layer of protection under the Bivvy, etc.
- Emergency Mylar Blankets
- Snacks- I’m a big fan of granola bars if you can’t tell. I also have a few cracker type things for Little Man to munch on, plus some Fruit and Veggie Pouches. While these tend to have more fruit than veggies, he LOVES them and they’re a great way to get him to eat semi-nutritious food on the go, plus they’re shelf-stable. Just check expiration dates every so often!
We also keep a pair of tennis shoes for each family member, and our ERGO Baby Carrier in the car. Although the backpack holds quite a bit of stuff, it only weighs about 10 pounds. In a worst-case-scenario emergency situation, I would be able to carry the backpack and all 22 pounds of Little Man to a safer location.
Things I would like to add:
- SteriPEN and/or Filter Water Bottle(s) for the Backpack
- Multi-tool (Full-size)
- Shovel to keep in the car
- Small Tool Kit
Things that are NOT in the kit:
You’ll notice I haven’t listed any hygiene items other than hand sanitizer, toilet paper, and baby wipes. This is because the purpose of the kit is to help us get somewhere safer, with more supplies and resources as quickly as possible, preferably home. I won’t be stopping to shower or do my makeup, and in such a situation, and I don’t think we’ll be too worried that we stink a little bit….but that is a call you’ll need to make on your own: keep a light pack or include deodorant, soap, toothbrush/toothpaste, etc for convenience. Update: I have included a contact case and small bottle of contact solution for my husband so he doesn’t have to wear dry contacts for too long. Next time he gets a new pair of glasses we’ll leave his old pair in the backpack.
I also have not included any type of shelter other than the SOL Bivvy because in MOST cases the car will act as our shelter, and otherwise we will be moving as quickly as possible to get to a permanent shelter. Absolute worst-case-scenario will be having to spend the night out in the elements, and the chances of that are slim to none.
What About You?
Do you have an emergency kit in your vehicle? What does it include? Do you have any suggestions of things to add/remove from mine?
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