11 Items to Keep in Your Car in Case of Emergency

1. FIRST AID KIT

You can buy a prepackaged kit or assemble your own. Be sure to include bandages in multiple sizes, gauze, an antibiotic cream, over-the-counter pain relievers, allergy medicine, hand sanitizer, and cotton swabs. To be even more prepared, consider packing a thermometer, heating pad, battery-powered radio, and any medications you and your family might need.

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6. Scissors

Although some first-aid kits include a small scissors, I keep a full-size pair in my car’s middle console. I have used it to cut bandages and scrape sticky substances from my window shield.

I used to keep a scissor in my car before I started keeping other emergency items in it. I am one of those people who buys sunglasses as I need them or over-the-counter medication while I am on the go. It always seems like I need my scissors for opening something in the car.

While I am not recommending any particular scissors because I do not even know what is in my car right now, I am cautioning you to get a sharp pair. There is a huge difference in quality between a cheap and expensive pair. When I am in my vehicle, I want a pair that gets the job done fast.

20. A car windshield sunshade in case winter isn’t exactly cold where you live. This sunshade will keep those warm temperatures at bay

Amazon Comes in multiple sizes (depending on your make and model) with a money-back guarantee. Promising review: “This is super easy to use. Open and put in in the window, can’t get any easier than that. My GMC Denali sits outside in the Southeastern NC sun all day and this really made a difference. When I get into my truck I can actually sit on the leather seats without being burned. It also keeps the sun off my dash, which is important down here in the Southeast. I would definitely recommend it.’ —Sharon Get it from Amazon for $14.99+ (available in sizes XS–XL).

Essential Car Snacks

Forgetting snacks whilst on a road trip can create sheer havoc in the car! If there is one thing that can settle an on-road dispute, its a well stocked snack box. Here are some key things to keep in your car to avoid overpaying at gas stations

  • Plenty of drinking water
  • Healthy snacks such as nuts, seeds and protein bars
  • Sweets and candy
  • Beef jerky
  • Your favorite flavoured chips
  • Energy drinks

Personal Things to Keep in Your Car

Your car is your safe haven when on the move, so it's no surprise that it ends up accumulating some personality along the way. Here are just a few personal things for your car that give it that lived-in feeling:

  • Face mask – with the current global health crisis, you should never go anywhere without it.
  • A bottle of water and some snacks – for those longer road trips or even when running errands around town.
  • Emergency makeup – if you're a woman or a teenage girl (or even a metrosexual man), it never hurts to have a little bit of touch-up makeup on hand
  • Brush – always useful if you need to freshen up before a meeting

33. A digital tire pressure gauge so you can quickly assess whether you should add some air to your tire or if it’s good-to-go. It has a lighted nozzle for visibility and is small enough to sit in your glovebox

Amazon Promising review: “This pressure gauge was a bit more expensive then what I’d like to pay. However, it definitely came in handy at night when I needed to check my tires. The blue light makes the process so much easier to find the stud that sticks out of your tires and check your tire pressure. The device also allows your to switch between pressure units (I just use the PSI). So far I’ve had this product for six months and haven’t need to change to the battery or any problems. I recommend this product.” —Annie Get it from Amazon for $11.99+ (available in three colors).

First Aid Supplies

You won’t always have the luxury of being able to seek medical attention from a qualified doctor when you hurt yourself out on the road. Thus, it is imperative that you maintain a well-stocked first aid kit. Here are the important things to keep in your car first aid kit at all times:

  • Bandages – both triangular and crepe rolled
  • Plasters in various shapes and sizes
  • Gauze dressing
  • Antiseptic spray and cream
  • Antihistamine medication
  • Painkillers such as aspirin or paracetamol
  • Disinfectant hand wipes
  • Distilled water
  • Disposable sterile gloves
  • Scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Safety pins
  • Any important allergy or chronic medications you require

Category 4: Handy Items and ‘Nice To Haves’

These are extra items you may want to keep in your vehicle for any possible situation.

  • Paper towels.
  • Tissues or a toilet paper roll.
  • Pencil and paper.
  • Umbrella or raincoat.
  • Battery bank to charge mobile.
  • Money for an emergency.
  • Personal hygiene kit.
  • Sleeping bag/pillow.
  • Breathalyzer.

Paper Towels

These can be used for anything you need to mop up, wipe or clean. They don’t take up much space and have multiple uses.

Tissues or a Toilet Paper Roll

If you have a cold, or if you may not have a bathroom handy, never leave home without them. You just never know when they might be needed.

Pencil and Paper

Younger generations seem to have forgotten how to write by hand, but a pencil and paper can come in handy. This is especially the case if you need to write down directions or instructions in case your phone battery has died.

Umbrella or Raincoat

If you have to leave your car and it’s pouring, you’ll be happy to have packed an umbrella or raincoat. Keeping the water off you will ensure your core body temperature doesn’t drop too low.

Battery Bank to Charge Mobile

A car mobile charger is useless if your car is unable to charge your phone. In this situation, a backup phone battery bank is useful. It’s always better to be sure you can use your phone for calling help.

Money for an Emergency

Even if credit cards are accepted almost everywhere, keeping some spare cash in your car will save you in an emergency.

Don’t leave too much in your car in case it gets stolen. You just need enough for emergencies, such as gas or food and drink.

Personal Hygiene Kit

In case you get stranded and have to sleep in your car, it’s always nice to freshen up. What to include in your personal hygiene kit? Here are some basic ideas:

  • Wet wipes.
  • Toothbrush.
  • Toothpaste
  • Hand sanitizer.
  • Hairbrush or comb.
  • Razors.
  • Body soap/shampoo.
  • Disposable washcloths.
  • Deodorant.
  • Nail clipper.
  • Feminine hygiene products.
  • Body lotion.

You can always personalize your kit with your favorite perfume and any other items you can think of.

Sleeping Bag/Pillow

If your car has problems and help cannot arrive for many hours, you may have to sleep in your car. If it’s cold outside, a sleeping bag and a pillow will make your rest more comfortable.

Breathalyzer

Most of us like to enjoy a drink or two on occasion, and all of us are aware of the risks of drink driving.

But how can we be sure we’re not over the drink drive alcohol limit if we’ve had a couple of beers, or a couple of glasses of wine with a meal, and we’ve waited 3 or 4 hours to allow our bodies to process and get rid of the alcohol before driving?

The general rule is our bodies can get rid of one unit of alcohol per hour, but it varies wildly from person to person. The only accurate way to know if you are safe to drive is with a breathalyzer. So this can be a handy item to have to make sure you are within limits, increasing the safety of you, any passengers and all road users.

Check out our guide to the best breathalyzers for personal use here.

3. Two Toothbrushes and Toothpaste

One toothbrush I keep for my teeth. If I am stuck and fall asleep, I am not a fan of wake-up breath. A small, travel-size toothpaste is perfect to keep in your glove compartment or center console. The second toothbrush I keep for car emergencies. I still remember a time when I would have been stuck if it was not for my toothbrush (and my dad).

I was with my family, and we pulled into a restaurant to grab a bite before continuing a long trip home. When we came out, my car would not start. My dad, who was not mechanical at all, asked if I had a toothbrush. (At that time, there was only one for my teeth, but I let him use it.) My dad opened the hood and started scrubbing the battery terminals, which unbeknownst to me, were corroded. I remember the rest of us cackling, and my mom even said, “Wouldn’t it be funny if this works?” Guess what? Dad knew his stuff, and a few minutes later the car purred to life.

In the Trunk or Back of the SUV

Grab a tote and pull together more supplies.

  • Old towel or blanket–never know when you have to rescue an animal.
  • Extra cords and cube for technology. In addition to the ones in use.
  • Extra pair of shoes, in case you break your flip-flops.
  • Disposable rain ponchos
  • Extra set of keys.

8. EMERGENCY FLARES

A busy highway, crowded intersection, or blind curve isn’t the ideal place for your car to stall, but such is life. Even if you manage to pull over to the side of the road and turn your emergency blinkers on, it may be difficult for other drivers to see you. If you have orange or red reflective flares, you can place them around your car to warn of your presence.

Food

Pack a few essentials for every day. Add some road trip snacks when headed out for a family trip.

 Related: Tips for choosing road trip snacks. 

Make sure your family is prepared for an emergency

Make sure your family is prepared for an emergency. Photo: Catherine Parker

Car Emergency Kit

In the event of an accident or a breakdown, its crucial to have a well-stocked car emergency kit. This checklist provides everything you need. It includes items for dealing with a flat tire or a flat battery – two of the most common automotive issues.

Also included in this list are items meant to increase visibility of you and your vehicle whilst at the side of the road. A warning triangle and high visibility vest is very important. Flashlights and spare change are items you might not think of, but which can be very useful.

  • Inflated spare tire
  • Car jack
  • Simple toolkit
  • Jump leads
  • portable battery pack
  • Fuel can
  • Duct tape
  • High visibility vest
  • Warning triangle
  • Flashlight
  • Some cash and spare change
  • Tire pressure gauge, inflation kit and sealant

This Roadside Emergency Kit contains most of the essential items required, but make sure you use the checklist. This item is often bought with a large car trunk organizer and a really useful portable car vacuum cleaner, to keep your vehicle orderly and clean.

Before leaving for your journey, always check that you have an inflated spare tire, repairing a flat tire at the side of the road is not always possible. If the puncture is minor, sometimes you can repair it using the sealant followed by the inflation kit.

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