Vehicle Emergency Kit: What you need in your trunk

The first thing to think about when it comes to car emergencies is what you’ll need. 

The second is to think about where you travel daily. 

Do you mostly travel in the city doing short distances, or do you do many long commutes?

This list will help make sure that you’re well-equipped for any situation, will not take up too much space, or get in the way of your groceries.

It doesn’t matter if you live in a snowy area or not.

Being prepared means always having these items on hand.

Table of Contents

1) Shovel

The shovel is a must-have for any car emergency kit. It’s the essential tool to have on hand.

A shovel doesn’t need to take up much space in your trunk or get tangled with other items like jumper cables might do if they’re coiled together tightly at one end of an open area inside your vehicle.

The shovel helps dig out your car stuck in the snow or mud, or if you get stuck on an icy road, they are a great tool.

However, shovels are not just useful when there’re snow emergencies.

Having a shovel will help dig out someone who has been stuck or even digging yourself free from mudslides that may happen during a heavy rainstorm!

Many shovels are compact and are easily stored in a small space.

There are multitool-type shovels, and you can read more about the styles in our article Survival Shovels. 

Our recommendation for the best emergency shovel for your vehicle is:

This compact kit includes a shovel, axe, pickaxe, flashlight, rescue whistle, magnesium rod, cutter, saw, hoe, bottle opener, knife, fork, compass, fire starter, wrench.

As the kit comes in a case storing it in your vehicle will be easy.

This aluminum shovel easily collapses into three pieces saving space when stored in your vehicle. 

This shovel is made of durable aluminum alloy andhas a storage bag so that pieces do not go missing.

2) Tow rope/chain

A tow rope or chain is useful when stuck in a ditch or on an icy road. 

Qualities of good tow rope include:

A) Length – you want a tow rope that is at least 20 feet long.

B ) Strength – A thick and heavy tow rope is stronger.  However, the thicker and heavier, the harder it will be to carry around when using or store in your car trunk.

C) Flexibility- if the rope is too stiff or inflexible, it will be difficult for both drivers to pull each other out without injuring themselves or damaging either vehicle.

D) Reflective tape- ensure the reflective tape is on both ends of the rope so you can easily see where the rope ends are so you do not get tangled up while using them during an emergency!

If you have a winch, then utilizing a tow rope or chain will not require another vehicle’s assistance.  You can secure the rope/chain to a stable object, and the winch will be the power to pull you out.

Use of the tow rope and chain can be hazardous as the rope and chain can snap with no warning.  Safety is paramount, and keeping your eyes and ears open for any issues is a wise thing.

This kit includes a heavy duty recovery bag, winch line dampener, and mega snatch block.

The winch line dampener helps reduce the stress on your vehicle’s suspension system by absorbing some of the kinetic energy from the cable if it breaks or becomes disconnected under pressure.

Lab Tested 31,518lb Break Strength is a must have for for those who want to be prepared for all situations.

This recovery strap is made from Rhino USA’s Exclusive Poly/Silk Webbing, Ensuring the Softest yet Toughest Quality Anywhere!

3) Flashlight with extra batteries

Life circumstances may find you in a position where it is night with no lights, so make sure you have one handy.

The flashlight may be small or large, depending on the size of your car.

Larger flashlights have a strobe or flasher that you can use as a warning light or emergency signal, so it’s an important tool to have in your car.

The flashlight comes in handy when changing tires during dark hours of early morning/late evening.

Or even just having a light shine down into our hands when washing them makes things easier. 

What about the times you are stuck on the road for hours due to an accident or storm. 

A flashlight can provide comfort and help you feel less alone in the dark while waiting for the road to open again.

We like the following flashlight for our emergency kit:

A super tough nylon case light that is “O” ring sealed and unbreakable Lexan lens assembled in a heavy duty bezel.

This flashlight has C4 LED technology, impervious to shock with a 50,000 hour lifetime.

Runtime: Ni-Cd: high: 3.5 continuous hours.

 

The best quality light source that has over 50k hours lifespan.

The max distance of this flashlight is 200 meters /656 feet. This flashlight has 5 modes: High/ Medium/ Low/ Strobe/ SOS with dynamic mode selection.

It also comes with a zoomable focus from floodlight to a focused strong beam.”

4) Emergency flares, road cones, reflective triangles

You have a flat tire, and the highway is full of cars. 

You pull over but wonder if anyone notices your vehicle. 

If you’re broken down and need to stop traffic or warn of an accident up ahead, flares, road cones, and reflective triangles come in handy. 

They are necessary to keep you safe when you are on the side of a busy highway.

They are a great tool when other drivers don’t see your vehicle in time before they drive right into the situation.

Emergency flares are used by placing them at least 100 feet behind any disabled vehicle with their hazard lights flashing, so motorists know something’s wrong from far away. 

At night this distance should increase because headlights will make objects appear closer than what exists.

The flare will also work well during daylight hours though they will not have the dramatic effect as they would at night.

If you are looking to add emergency flares to your kit, our recommendation is:

The triangle helps increase visibility and safety while you wait for emergency assistance, and the flare is water-resistant and extremely bright to assure the visibility of your vehicle.

The Triangle has a collapsible design and includes a convenient carrying case.

This rechargeable LED light can be used as a flashlight, floodlight and red emergency light.

It is waterproof and has 4 modes: high, low, SOS red light mode & flashing red emergency lights.

5) Heavy-duty gloves

Heavy-duty gloves are needed to protect your hands from chemicals, dirt, and injury.

Having a pair of these in the car at all times will help protect you as you can use the gloves for several things.

You never know when an emergency might occur where chemical spills happen, so it is best to be prepared ahead of time if something goes wrong with our vehicle. 

On a cold day, heavy-duty gloves sure come in handy!

You can use them to protect your hands from the cold air and wind.

If you have a pair of these gloves, keep them inside the vehicle in a location where you will know exactly where they are when needed.

The right pair of work gloves can make a world of difference.

These waterproof leather work gloves are designed for all-around protection and durability in the toughest conditions, including cold weather.

The synthetic leather palm with PVC textured reinforcement provides excellent grip on a variety of surfaces, while the EVA padding absorbs impact and vibration.

These gloves are made of natural latex foam rubber, which is a durable and breathable material.

The liner is made of thicker laminated polyester fabric to keep your hands warm in cold weather.

There is a knit wrist cuff for a secure fit.

6) Blanket

If you are stranded and cold, the first thing on your mind will be how to stay warm. 

A blanket will be your buddy in this situation.

The blanket is also helpful to sit or lie on while you may be waiting for the tow truck or other help to arrive to keep dirt, moisture from your body.

The blanket will also be there for the nonemergency days when you want to eat your lunch beside a babbling creek or have a picnic in the park.

You may want to include two types of blankets, one for warmth and one for ground cover.

Wool blankets are the best for warmth but do not fair well when used on the ground as they absorb moisture. 

In this case, a blanket or ground cover that is insulated and moisture resistant will be the best choice.

Here are our recommendations:

A Waterproof Throw Blanket that is lightweight and portable. 

This blanket  is made from high quality waterproof material to keep you dry and warm. 

On top there is sherpa fleece that provides a soft touch and added warmth.

Measuring 50 inches x 60 inches when open it will cover two adults comfortably.

Wool is a naturally fire-retardant material. 

This blanket is not treated with any additional flame-retardant chemicals making it safe.

Wool is a time-tested natural fabric that will keep you warm, even when wet. 

This blankets size is 64″ x 88″, which is large enough to cover two adults

 

7) Jumper cables and a charger

Jumper cables and a  charger for your phone/tablet are essential in an emergency to start your vehicle or contact someone for help.

If you’re stranded somewhere and need help, it can be difficult if the battery is dead. 

For those times when your phone’s power is low, a charging cable will be a safety line.  Being able to reach someone for help in an emergency is critical.

You can carry power sources with you that will allow you to jump-start your car and plug in your phone while waiting.

These 16FT,  175Amp Heavy-Duty Battery Jumper Cables(CCA) are made of heavy duty copper coated aluminum wire with PVC insulated cable. 

Each cable has a length of 16FT and 1 gauge thickness which will help ensure the cables will have the long reaching ability you require.

This power bank has a 20000mAh capacity, which is the first of its kind.

It supports all phones, tablets and other low-current accessories like AirPods, Bluetooth headphones, fitness trackers and smart watches to charge simultaneously without compromising on speed or safety.

The digital display shows you exactly how much power you have left so that you never get caught off guard. 

8) Extra fluids - Water, Oil Windsheild Washer

Water is an essential emergency tool.

It is helpful for drinking and washing wounds.

If the radiator’s fluid overflows, evaporates or boils away, it is necessary to replenish this supply when driving long distances.

When traveling through desert areas with no other potable fluid sources, carry at least one gallon per person, two quarts, each day that you plan to drive.

Carry a minimum of four gallons if your trip includes unpaved roads where dust clouds are likely to be present.

Windshield washer and extra oil is also handy to have in a car emergency kit as well. 

Keeping your windows clean and the vehicle oil topped off, so your car operates is key to a safe trip.

We recommend using the products you utilize on a daily basis.

9) Tool kit

You may not use them daily, but you’ll be glad to have them in an emergency.

A screwdriver, wrench or pliers, tire pressure gauge, and duct tape are the basic tools that every car owner should carry in their trunk.

If your vehicle has a standard tire pressure gauge, it’s unnecessary to include this tool, but if yours doesn’t, then carrying one of these gauges would make sense.

Why duct tape in an emergency kit?

What for? 

Well, think of all the times you’ve seen someone use duct tape to fix a leaky pipe or repair their bike.

A roll is small and light enough that it won’t take up much space in your trunk and be a valuable resource in an emergency.

A 30 pc tool kit that includes: sockets, screwdrivers, pliers, jumper cables, gloves, electric tape.

This set has everything needed to be safe in the event of a roadside break down.

The emergency kit comes in a sturdy carrying case that is conveniently compact for storage in your trunk or backseat.

A compact emergency tool kit where the tools are heat treated and chrome plated.


Parents like to give it to their kids when they drive their first car.

This kit represents peace of mind for the whole family, and its cost makes it possible to throw one in each of the household’s vehicle: boat, RV, car, motorcycle, etc.

10) Spare tire, jack and lug wrench

Every vehicle needs a spare tire and a lug wrench to change a tire if needed.

It’s always good practice to try out the lug wrench before you need it to ensure that the wrench will fit on your lug nuts.

Check the spare tire to ensure it is in good condition and inflated to the correct pressure before heading out on your drive.

You may find the angled lug wrench hard to turn or get any leverage to move the bolts on a tire.

I know I have issues with this type of wrench so I ensure I have a four-way wrench in my vehicle as I can get the leverage required to move the bolts on the tire in an emergency.

The four-way wrench recommended is excellent and will help you out.

Size= 37.8 x 37.3 x 3.6 centimeters

Weight= 3.5 lbs. / 1.58kg

Length= 20 inches

Ensure size chosen will fit the lug nuts on your tire.

Size= 29.72 x 25.91 x 5.08 cm

Weight= 6.5 lbs. / 2.99 Kilograms

Length= 17 inches

Ensure size chosen will fit the lug nuts on your tire.

11) First Aid Kit, Tissues and Toilet Paper

A good idea is to have an emergency car kit with all of your necessities in it. 

The basic first aid kit includes bandages, gauze pads, adhesive tape, antiseptic wipes/spray, antibiotic ointment, alcohol pads, and safety pins to close up clothes if necessary. 

Beyond the apparent use of tissues and toilet paper, it is an excellent addition to the first aid kit.

You can use the paper to start a fire, or you can use it to clean up spills or messes in the car, and you never know when someone might need a tissue.

In a pinch, you can use the tissue as a bandage to help minor cuts.

You can buy each item for your first aid kit separately or purchase a premade first aid kit based on your needs. 

Here are essential first aid kits we recommend.

This kit comes in a 600D Polyester water resistance bag with organized compartments. 

Includes: 7.5″ Shears(1), 18″ Splint(1),

Adhesive Bandages: Butterfly – Large(5), Butterfly – Medium(5), Large(5), Standard(30), Square(5), Mini(5), H-Shape(5),

Pressure Bandage (1), Strip Closures(9), Triangular Bandage(2), Wound Dressings(2).

Cold Pack(1),

Combine Dressing(1), Conforming Bandages(6), Gauze Swabs(5),

Ear Buds(20),

Emergency Blanket(1),

Eye Pads(4),

First Aid Handbook(1),

Hydro Gel(5),

Tape, Non-Adhesive Dressings(10),

One Way Plastic Face Cover and Pouch with instructions

Laminate Baggies(6), Refuse Bag(1),

Safety Pins(10),

Splinter Probes(10),

Tweezers(1),

Whistle(1)

Everything you will need is included in this first aid kit.

30 x Adhesive Bandages (M)

5 x Adhesive Bandages (L), 5 x Adhesive Bandages (S), 5 x Circle Adhesive Bandages, 1 x Knee Adhesive Bandage, 1 x Elastic Bandage, 1 x Triangular Bandage

2 x Sterile Gauze Pads, 2 x Non-Adherent Pads

1 x Medical Scissor, 1 x Metal Tweezers

2 x Medical Tapes

10 x Safety Pins

20 x Cotton Swabs

4 x Alcohol Pads

4 x Antiseptic Towelettes

2 x Iodine Pads

2 x Sting Relief Pads

1 x Burn Cream

1 x TPE Tourniquet

1 x Metal Whistle

12) Candles, lighter and snacks

Candles and a lighter are not for ambiance during an emergency.

You can utilize a candle to start a fire, create light or even heat the vehicle.

A lighter also comes in handy for starting fires and is an easy way of creating sparks if you need them too!

It’s a good idea to have snacks as a part of your emergency kit.

What if someone gets hungry during their time waiting out whatever emergency they find themselves in.

Suggestions for snacks would include items that have a long shelf life, such as a can of nuts, granola bars, and water would make sense.

I place snacks in my kit every fall in preparation for winter, and in the summer, I open the snacks and celebrate the fact that I didn’t need to utilize them.

I feel grateful that, if required, I was covered.

This Candle Lantern is the perfect camp lighting solution for any situation.

It features a wide-mouth opening that allows you to easily place three standard size candles inside.

The large, sturdy bail handle makes it easy to carry and hang from any tent or tree limb, while the twist-lock vented base will keep your candle safely inside and prevent leaking.

With its compact design and lightweight body, this lantern can be taken anywhere you need to warm up and bright light.

This is the classic, long-burning collapsible candle lantern that has provided warm natural light to thousands.

The spring powered candle tube pushes the candle up as it burns, keeping the flame burning at a constant height. A viewing slot allows the user to monitor the remaining burn time of the slow-burning candle.

Has a twist lock base plus carrying handle and hanging hook.

Where do I store all these emergency supplies in my vehicle?

There are so many things to carry.

My vehicle is small.

Where do I store all of this?

Emergency Kit containers can vary widely depending on your needs, driving patterns, and vehicle size, so your choice in size and style are unlimited.

You may choose to use one or two plastic totes or a box. 

Maybe your style is to put everything into a back pack. 

Ensure that whatever container you choose is made of durable materials, so you can be sure it will last. 

Remember in the trunk of a vehicle things get moved around and even if the container gets beat up or tossed around in your trunk you want it to last.

The trunk of a car or a truck bed is the most obvious place to store your kit, but other areas will work just as well.

Maybe you don’t want to use any container but prefer to utilize the nooks and crannies of the vehicle. 

This might be better for you if it’s a tight squeeze in the back or because of limited space.

There isn’t an easy answer on where best to put this stuff – whatever works out good for you should do fine.

If everything has its own designated spot, then you’ll know what goes where and won’ have anything get lost at some point down the line or when you need it.

Pre made emergency kits for vehicles.

Yes there are pre made kits that can be purchased. 

Each pack will be unique as to the items included

The cost of these packs range from $250 to $800.

Here are our suggestion for pre made emergency kits for the vehicle.

Filter over 1000 gallons of clean drinking water with the included filter, pump, straw, bottle, 2.5 liter bladder, 2 gallon container.

Contains shelter, a poncho, 10 piece cooking set, ferrocerium rod fire starter, hand saw, folding silverware and shovel, a compass and whistle, lighting and charging cables.

This back pack is compact and contains 205 items, everything needed for 2 people to survive for 72 hours.

Contains  food and water, shelter, lighting, first aid, lighting and communication,  first Aid, search and rescue, sanitation, and storage items.

The car emergency kit is something that ideally you check yearly and replace dated stock but never have to use.

It’s just a good idea to have the essentials on hand in case you need them.

The last thing anyone wants when driving around by themselves, with kids, family or pets, is for an emergency to happen.

Think about what you might need based on your driving habits and where you go.  

You can build up your emergency kit over time, purchase the items independently to make your own kit, or purchase a pre made kit.