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What Should I Put in a Car Emergency Kit?

Although people prepare for major disasters, they often forget about the smaller things that can go wrong in life, especially while on the road. These sorts of emergencies can be dealt with a homemade or a purchased car kit equipped with all the items needed daily by persons, families and children. Preparing for everyday family car emergencies is not only wise but essential.

People normally opt to carry basic automobile items – road cones, extra oil, flares, jumper cables, tire gauge, fire extinguishers, hazard triangles -- but car emergency kits (either purchased or homemade) will be useful for helping you deal with those smaller matters that can be just as effective in disrupting your day. An emergency car kit is a must for breakdowns, bad traffic, unusual weather conditions, and other phenomena that can hamper your travels and keep you stranded on the road for hours or days even.

While preparing your emergency car kit, you should also consider including emergency supplies for each one of your family members.

You may ask yourself, "What should I keep in my car emergency kit?" Firstly, you should make certain that your kits covers the basic life sustaining necessities such as water, food, first aid medicine, medications, items to keep you and your family warm, and communications. After these items are included in your kit, you can supplement your car emergency supplies with other items such as food (ready to eat meals), lighting, water purification tablets, and tools and accessories that you may deem necessary for survival under any conceivable condition.

Below is an example of items needed for a basic emergency car kit. The list gives weight to items that generally relate to the job commute, to roadtrips, and to typical daily circumstances. If there is more than one car in the family, each car owner can decide to build a custom emergency car kit to suit his/her needs. In addition, the list can be amended to meet the special needs of infants, children and women.

First Aid

•Adhesive bandages

•Sterile dressing

•Roller gauze bandage

•Sterile gauze pads



•Antibacterial ointment

•Antiseptic solution

•Antiseptic wipes


•First aid manual

Food & Water


•Ready-to-eat meals

•Canned or boxed juices, milk, and soup

•High-energy foods

•Special foods for infants or persons on special diets


•Washcloths and towels

•Antibacterial soap, hand sanitizers

•Toothbrushes, toothpaste


•Insect repellant


•Toilet paper

Special Tools


•All-purpose knife

•Signal flare


•Matches (Waterproof if possible)

•Duct tape and scissors

•Tube tent

•Paper cups, plates, utensils

•Water purification tablets

•Plastic bags

•Flashlight (hand powered if possible)

•Solar powered lantern (hand powered is also fine)

•Radio (hand powered if possible)

•Extra batteries for all battery-operated devices

•Fire extinguisher



•Pain relievers

•Toothache medication

•Diarrhea medication


•Prescription medication


•Blankets and pillows

•Sleeping bags

•All documents pertaining to identity (Passports, Driver's Licenses, Birth Certificates, Social Security)

•Contact list and phone numbers

•Maps and key phone numbers in your area


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