The following items should all prove to be useful in case of a general emergency situation. If you read on you will also find the winter edition of the emergency checklist.
General Items for Your Kit
Backpack- to house all of your items in one place where they can be found and accessed easily.
First Aid Kit- in case of minor injury, having a first aid kit on hand is a good idea.
Fire Extinguisher- to put out fires.
Hand cleaner- your hands get dirty changing tires and working under the hood.
Water (1L)- for washing and drinking.
Protein bar or MRE- should you find yourself stranded, it’s good to have some food on hand. Protein bars and MREs (Meals Ready-to-Eat) are a good choice because they pack nutrients and stay fresh long.
Fleece Blanket- For warmth while waiting for help.
Extra Clothes- to stay warm and dry.
Emergency poncho with hood- in case it’s raining or snowing when an emergency happens.
Cell phone- make sure you have a charged cell phone on you anytime you’re driving in a place that’s sparsely populated or there is potential to be stranded. Besides the obvious ability to make phone calls for help, most modern cell phones can triangulate your position, making it easier for help to find you.
GPS system- very helpful if you have one.
Compass- if you don’t have GPS, a compass can help you find your way if you’re lost.
Tools for Your Kit
14-20’ long tow rope with metal hooks- should your car need to be towed, or tow another car. You’ll want a rope custom made for towing with minimum stretch, as most nylon ropes will have a dangerous recoil affect due to their stretchiness.
Heavy duty jumper cables- should you need to recharge a dead battery, yours or anothers.
Heavy duty leather palmed gloves- to protect your hands while doing various work on the car, and an extra safety precaution when connecting jumper cables.
Bungee cord with hooks- Used to secure objects without tying knots and to absorb shock. Useful for securing the trunk if an object in it is too big to close properly, securing objects in the back of a pick up truck, and securing objects to the roof of a car.
Swiss army knife- Has multiple uses that will come in handy.
Utility knife- for when a stronger, sharper blade is needed than the swiss army knife provides.
15’ coil of repair wire- should the wiring in your vehicle need to be repaired.
Duct tape- very useful in various situations.
6” slip-joint pliers w/ insulated handles- will have various uses in repairing your vehicle.
Screwdriver set/universal screwdriver- for screw driving, obviously.
Wrench- for… wrenching?
Tools for Tires
Spare Tire, jack, lug wrench and wheel lock key- for changing a tire. Remember that most vehicles have temporary use spare tires, so they should be replaced with a new tire as soon as possible. You also should stay under 50 mph and avoid towing a trailer with a temporary tire, and drive with extra caution as it will change the way the vehicle handles.
12oz can of tire sealant and inflator- In the case of a flat, a tire sealant will seal up the leak, and the inflator will fill the tire with enough air to get to a gas station/car repair shop.
Air compressor- can be used to refill tires with air.
Items for Visibility
Chemical light stick- can be used as a light source to help with repairs or make you visible to other cars. Light is created through a chemical reaction, so no electrical power is needed.
Reflective vest-to be more visible should you need to work on the car roadside.
A flashlight or LED torch light- used as a light source. They can be extremely helpful if you’re changing a tire or working under the hood at night. If you’re using a flashlight, the more powerful the better, if battery powered go with D Cell and up if possible. If using an LED torch light, go with 12V+.
Reflective triangle and road flares- Increases your visibility to oncoming traffic. Very important, especially at night if work on your car needs to be done.
Emergency signal cone- put the cone over your flashlight, and you have a lit cone that makes you more visible to oncoming traffic, and signals you need help.
A Winter Emergency Kit for Your Car: A Contents Checklist
This kit is specifically designed for winter conditions. If winter is around the corner, read this article on creating a winter emergency kit for your car, for additional items to add to your kit.
If you’re stranded in the winter, the best thing to do is contact 911, let them know your location, and wait in your car. Trying to dig your car out or trying to walk back to help can be very dangerous. While waiting, keep your engine off as much as possible. You can idle for a few minutes now and then, but keep it as little as possible and let your clothes keep you warm. You want to save your gas and battery, and avoid the silent dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning. Crack the window open ½ an inch for ventilation, and light your candle for light and some extra heat. Break out your snacks and wait for help to arrive.
However, if for whatever reason the above option is not available to you, here’s a car winter survival kit to help get you up and running and back to safety. It’s meant to be an addition onto a general car survival kit.
Items for Your Winter Vehicle Survival Kit
Shovel- should you need to dig yourself out of snow. A folding shovel is convenient for smaller cars.
Pair of hand warmers- to keep your hands warm while working on your car.
Heavy duty work gloves- to put over your hand warmers- help keep your hands even warmer, as well as protect your hands.
Ice scraper- to scrape ice off of your windshield. Mandatory for anyone living in an area that experiences snow in the winter.
Winter jacket and snow pants- to stay warm and dry while working on your car and waiting for help.
Warm socks, hat, and other clothes- same as above.
Snow boots- …yup, you guessed it.
Warm blanket- wrap yourself in while waiting. Keeps you warm while minimizing the time you need to run your heat for.
Metal tin/pot- for melting snow.
Candle lantern- gives you light and raises the temperature inside your car.
Some general tips to help avoid winter emergencies to begin with:
Winter tires- will help avoid accidents in the winter. Remember to check your tires and make sure the pressure is high.
Get a check up- make sure your car is in great shape before winter sets in.
Keep your tank full- never let it fall below half in the winter, should you need to run your engine while stranded. A tank low on fuel during very cold weather can lead to frozen pipes as well.
Radio- know where to find weather and traffic reports on your local radio dial.
Good luck and stay prepared!