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Short and Sweet Summary: It’s a good idea to keep a vehicle emergency kit in your car for those random moments when you’re stranded on the side of the road screaming, “what the hell am I supposed to do now?!!” The best car emergency kit is one that’s well-stocked with roadside emergency necessities.
Getting stranded on the side of the road is THE WORST.
Has your battery ever died while you’re away from home? Or alternator stopped working? It’s pretty scary.
Batteries die, alternators stop working and tires go flat. It happens.
It’s in your best interest to keep a well-stocked vehicle emergency kit in your car for those random moments when you stranded on the side of the road screaming, “what the hell am I supposed to do now?!!”
Sometimes you need to call roadside assistance, like for flat tires. Other times you might just need to jump a dead battery.
Either way, it’s important to be prepared. If you carry the following emergency items in your car at all times, you’ll be the best-prepared widow on the block.
1. Jumper Cables
I’ve been driving around with a set of jumper cables since I was old enough to drive because that’s one thing my dad told me to ALWAYS carry with me in my car.
I’ve used my jumper cables plenty of times. In fact, my car battery died just last weekend because my son plugged his iPhone into my car radio to listen to his music while he played basketball in the driveway.
My boyfriend’s car was parked next to mine anyway, so we just used my jumper cables to charge the battery. Easy peasy.
I’ve used my jumper cables loads of times for other stranded motorists, too. I can’t believe how many people don’t keep jumper cables in their car.
A good set of jumper cables is long enough (around 20 feet) so you can still make a connection when cars aren’t parked right next to each other. If you have no idea how to use jumper cables, Meineke has a good article describing the process here.
2. Flashlight (with extra batteries)
Murphy’s Law states that “anything that can go wrong will go wrong.” But things don’t always go wrong in the daylight.
Make sure you have a good flashlight (like this one here) for those times when you need extra light. Like inspecting your car at night or looking under the hood in dimly lit conditions.
Don’t forget to carry extra batteries, too. A flashlight isn’t going to do much good if it doesn’t work.
3. Reflective Triangles
You can’t always determine where you get stranded.
For that reason, reflective triangles are an essential vehicle emergency kit item because they can inform other drivers that your car is a roadway hazard.
These DOT approved safety triangles alert others to be aware of what’s up ahead in the roadway. Because your safety is more important than your vehicle’s safety, you should always take steps to prevent any unnecessary injuries or accidents.
4. Spare Cell Phone Charger
If your car dies and you can’t charge your phone, you’ll need a backup plan so you’re not stranded and unable to call for help.
Carrying a spare cell phone charger helps you when you have car trouble or when any part of your current cell phone charger parts malfunction.
This is a good charger to have on hand for any cell phone battery emergencies.
5. Small Blanket
Carrying a small blanket, or even a sleeping bag, is helpful if you get stranded during the colder months.
Or a blanket can double as a pillow and make your car more comfortable if it’s taking a long time for assistance to reach you.
6. First Aid Kit
You never know when you’ll need a first aid kit so its a good idea to carry a kit in your car for emergencies or just because.
I’ve carried a first aid kit in my car for a while now because my boys always seem to need a bandaid for lots of unrelated reasons.
Your first aid kit should include at the very least, gauze, tape, bandages, antibiotic ointment, aspirin, nonlatex gloves, scissors, and tweezers.
This kit covers all of your bases.
You never know where you’ll get stuck or for how long. Carrying water and non-perishable emergency snacks like protein bars or dried fruit can come in handy when you’re starving and waiting for assistance.
Or sitting at a track meet. Or waiting in the carpool line. What about when you ran errands but forgot to eat lunch first?
I always have snacks in my car.
8. Multi-Purpose Tool
A multi-purpose tool comes in handy because it serves multiple purposes. Hence, the name.
This tool includes a screwdriver, pliers, wire cutters, knife and can opener all in one.
9. Additional Items
- Portable shovel to dig out of the snow or cat litter for traction
- Gloves and hats to stay warm in colder climates
- Duct tape because it fixes everything
- Fire Extinguisher so you’re at-the-ready in case of an engine fire
- Rain poncho because no one likes to get wet
- Tire gauge to measure tire pressure
Bonus Vehicle Emergency Kit
You can scratch items 1,2,3, 6 and 8 off your vehicle emergency kit list and purchase the Kolo Sports 156-Premium Auto Emergency Kit instead.
This kit is filled to the brim with roadside assistance tools and first aid essentials plus a 25-piece multi-purpose tool kit and tire repair kit.
The kit contents might not be as top-notch as the items you purchase separately (the jumper cables are only 8 ft. long for example) but it’s better than having nothing at all.
You need to stay safe and be protected when you’re out and about by yourself. I’ve experienced everything from dead car batteries to flat tires and it’s not fun to be stranded in the cold without light, food or warmth.
Putting together a vehicle emergency kit is a smart way to prepare for things that you don’t think will ever happen, but sometimes do.
Be prepared and be safe.
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Want to download a PDF version of the Vehicle Emergency Checklist?
It’s included in my free resource library, or if you need the password, you can get it here by filling out this form: