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A Checklist for Putting Together the Ultimate Emergency Car Kit

The Ultimate Emergency Car Kit: How to Equip Yourself for Most Any Calamity

No one enjoys being stranded on the side of the road, but when you have a well-equipped emergency car kit packed away in the trunk, the situation can be more bearable. [info_banner] This  emergency car kit checklist covers the basics, but also has suggestions for items you may have overlooked.… Allstate
Emergency Car Kit

No one enjoys being stranded on the side of the road, but when you have a well-equipped emergency car kit packed away in the trunk, the situation can be more bearable.


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This  emergency car kit checklist covers the basics, but also has suggestions for items you may have overlooked. Consider packing these supplies for a super vehicle emergency car kit you can bring along on a spring or summer road trip, or just your next long-distance excursion with the kids:


  • Toilet paper. Keep a 4-pack handy; remove the cardboard tubes and flatten.
  • Hand sanitizer. Store in a quart-size zip-top bag to avoid leakage.
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste and dental floss. Travel sizes make these easier to pack. Pack a set for each member in a zip-top bag labeled with each person’s name.
  • Plastic tablecloth. This can cover questionable surfaces when you’re ready for a meal or a diaper change.
  • Trash bags. These are good for lining an emergency potty, which could be a 5-gallon bucket or a toddler potty.
  • Baby wipes.
  • Bar of soap. Store in a zip-top bag or soap box.
  • Disinfecting wipes. 
  • Feminine protection.
  • Small box of tissues.
  • Zip-top bags in different sizes. These come in handy for holding dirty laundry, dirty diapers or trash, and can even be used to hold water.


  •  Energy bars. Choose high-calorie options; they’re lightweight but provide the calories you’ll need in a small dose.
  • Almonds.
  • V-8 juice.
  • Sport drink, premade or a mix.
  • Peanut or other nut butters in foil packets.
  • Jerky.
  • Dried fruit.
  • Applesauce/fruit cups.
  • Hearty, whole wheat crackers.
  • Hard candies.
  • Tuna packs.
  • Dry cereal.
  • Jam/jelly cups.
  • Trail mix. Make sure there’s no chocolate (which would melt in high temperatures).
  • Shelled sunflower seeds.


  • Water. A case of water bottles or cleaned 2-liter soda bottles, refilled with tap water, and tightly capped. These bottles can be reused.
  • Water filter. I like the Life-Straw or PurifiCup, which are both lightweight and highly portable.
  • LED flashlights and/or headlamps.
  • Rain ponchos.
  • Emergency radio. Choose a model that is both solar- and battery-powered.
  • Heavy-duty trash bags.
  • Reflective emergency blanket/sleeping bag.
  • Duct tape. (There’s always a use for duct tape.)
  • Fleece blankets. I roll these up and store them under the back seat for easiest access. They can be used as a window shade, ground cover, changing pad and in so many other ways.
  • Tarp.
  • Paracord. 50 yards, or more. Paracord is a lightweight nylon, general purpose utility rope.
  • Multi-purpose knife.
  • Extra batteries. For everything in your kit that requires a battery.
  • Hand/foot warmers.
  • Work gloves.
  • Small shovel.
  • Fire-starters, such as waterproof matches, flint or a Blast Match, which shoots sparks with three times the heat of a standard match.
  • Multi-tool.
  • Binoculars.
  • Light sticks. These are great to keep the kids entertained but also helpful for keeping track of them after dark.
  • Maps.
  • High quality first-aid kit.
  • Bandannas.
  • Small pair of scissors.
  • Collapsible nylon bag or small backpack. If you ever have to leave your vehicle for safer ground, this will enable you to take the most essential items with you.
  • Shoelaces.
  • Walking shoes for each member of the family. You’ll give thanks for having sturdy, comfortable shoes stashed in the car if you ever have to hoof it to safety.
  • Floppy cotton hat.
  • Sunblock.
  • Medications. Make sure you only pack those that aren’t temperature-sensitive.
  • Face mask. Even a simple dust mask comes in handy around a forest fire or high level of smog.
  • Bug repellent.
  • Moleskin.
  • Survival and first aid manuals.


  • Whistle.
  • Cash, coins. Power outages also take out ATM machines. Having cash for gas, a restaurant meal or hotel room might put you ahead of those who only have a debit or credit card.
  • Disposable camera. This could be very helpful in documenting a car accident, license plates, injuries or storm damage.
  • Pepper spray. This is good bear spray if your travels take you through bear country.
  • Emergency phone numbers on a laminated card.


  • Deck of cards.
  • Foam ear plugs.
  • Books on CD, paperbacks.
  • Inspirational or motivational book.
  • Small journal/pen or pencil.
  • Lip balm.
  • Battery-powered fan.

I keep my emergency kit packed in an opaque, under-the-bed bin that fits perfectly in the back of my SUV. To help with organization and keep track of inventory, I keep a laminated copy of this checklist on top of everything. Once your list is laminated, use a china marker to keep track of what you have packed in the kit.

Lisa Bedford, author of “Survival Mom: How to Prepare Your Family for Everyday Disasters and Worst Case Scenarios,” also blogs at She believes there is power and peace in being prepared.