How To Pack An Emergency Kit

A good driver is always prepared. Breakdowns can happen anytime, anywhere. In addition to having the necessary equipment handy to change a flat tire, there are some other items you should always have on hand. Here we'll teach you how to pack a roadside emergency kit to keep you safe.

Homemade vs. Pre-made Emergency Kits

Pre-packaged car emergency kits can be a great place to start. But putting your own roadside assistance kit together has some valuable benefits.

  • Tailor it to the weather in your area. Maybe you'll never need an ice scraper, or a battery-powered fan. Add or subtract items from the list that you know you'll need where you're traveling.
  • Include items that suit your family. If you have kids or pets, you can add things like diapers, dehydrated food, dog treats, or a water bowl.
  • Create multiple kits or have back-ups handy. Instead of buying several pre-made kits, you can build multiple car safety kits at once or keep extra supplies on hand if you run out.

The biggest benefit of creating your own vehicle emergency kit? You'll know exactly what's inside. You bought it and packed it, so you'll know what is and isn't included.

What to Pack in Your Emergency Kit

Here are the emergency kit essentials we recommend along with some optional items you can leave out it they're not appropriate for your area.

  • First Aid kit. Some of the items to include are:
    • Band-Aids
    • Hand sanitizer.
    • Antiseptic.
    • Antibiotic ointment.
    • Bug spray.
    • Aspirin (or similar).
    • Cotton balls.
    • Gauze pads.
    • Tweezers.
    • Bandana.
    • Ace bandage.
  • Fire extinguisher.
    • Choose a small one that is easy to store.
  • Road flares (if not already in your tire-changing tools).
  • Jumper cables.
  • Rain ponchos.
  • Tarp.
  • Flashlight and extra batteries.
  • Rags.
  • Duct tape
  • Scent-free baby wipes.
  • Drinking water and non-perishable snacks.
  • Multipurpose tool.

Some optional items for your roadside kit include:

  • Collapsible shuttle.
  • Ice scraper.
  • Cat litter for slick roads.
  • Small battery-powered fan.
  • Blankets and/or warm clothing.

Some recommend keeping fluids like oil, antifreeze, and brake fluid in your vehicle as well. If you have an older car, add these to your kit—but if you regularly check your fluids, you shouldn't need these.

Remember, this list is in addition to what you already have on hand for changing a tire. Store all of your roadside emergency items in one complete package.

How to Pack Your Emergency Kit

When you have all of your items ready, we suggest the following method for creating a well-organized and easy to use emergency kit:

  • Use a clear, plastic container with a secure lid.
  • Place items inside in a tidy manner, preferably a single layer so they are easy to see and grab.
  • Create an itemized list and tape it to the outside of the box.
  • Be sure to replace anything that expires or gets used up.

The best place to keep your emergency kit is in your trunk. If you have a truck or hatchback, consider using bungee cords to secure it in the back of your vehicle so it doesn't slide around and open while you're driving.

If you have limited space in your vehicle, reduce your kit to just the basics:

  • First Aid kit.
  • Flashlight.
  • Multipurpose tool.
  • Jumper cables.
  • Road flares.
  • Bottled water.

Additional Emergency Safety Tips

In addition to your emergency kit, there are a few things you might not realize can be a real sanity saver.

  • Cell phone car charger: Keeping your phone charged up when you're on the road can help you reach out for assistance in an emergency. In addition to a standard car charger, also consider a solar charger.
  • Cash for gas: If the power goes out due to inclement weather, it's nearly impossible to get gas with just your credit card. Cash always works, so keep some safely tucked away in your car.
  • Clean, empty, refillable gas jug: This won't fit in your every-day emergency kit, but In addition to a standard car charger, also consider a solar charger. Just remember it's never safe to keep a full jug in your vehicle, as gas is highly flammable and unstable.
  • Full fluids: Before any road trip, be sure to check all the fluid, including oil, antifreeze, and transmission fluid. These should be clean and full to make sure your vehicle is running in tip-top shape.
  • Deck of cards, book, or other entertainment: Let's face it—if you find yourself in an emergency, you might be waiting a while for help. Counting the number of red cars can get old fast, so be sure you have something to occupy the time.
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