Car Emergency Kit

What to Keep in Your Car in Case of Emergency

Icy Road

Keep the following supplies in your car emergency kit, which will serve you well if an adverse situation arises in your automobile.

Car Emergency Kit List

Keep these items in a bag in your trunk:

  • Battery– or hand-crank–powered radio and flashlight, plus extra batteries
  • Blanket
  • Booster cables
  • Bottled water and nonperishable high-energy foods such as granola bars, raisins, and peanut butter
  • Fire extinguisher (5-lb., A-B-C type)
  • First-aid kit and manual
  • Maps, shovel, flares
  • Tire repair kit and pump
  • Spare tire

Winter Emergency Kit List

For those in wintry areas, we advise adding these items to your standard emergency kit.

  • A snowbrush and ice scraper
  • A snow shovel
  • A bag of sand to help with traction
  • Extra windshield-wiper fluid
  • A blanket, just in case
  • Old winter boots and winter clothes (hat, gloves, jacket, snowpants, scarf, etc.) for the trunk


Winter Driving Tips for Car Safety

  • Keep your gas tank filled above halfway to avoid emergencies in bad weather.
  • Stuck on the ice without sand or cat litter? In a pinch, you can take the mats out of your car, place them next to the tires, and slowly inch the car onto and across the mats.
  • To restore proper windshield wiper blade action, smooth the rubber blades with fine sandpaper to remove any grit and pits.
  • Gently rub a small, moistened, cloth bag of iodized salt on the outside of your windshield to prevent the ice and snow from sticking.
  • Fog-proof your mirrors and the inside of your windshields with shaving cream. Spray and wipe it off with paper towels.
  • Avoid driving when you have the flu, which can reduce your reaction time almost six times as much as moderate alcohol intake. 

What do you have in your car emergency kit? Let us know in the comments!

Learn More

If it’s balmy all winter where you live, be thankful that you don’t need all of this stuff! To see if snow and ice are predicted in your area, see our free two-month long-range forecasts or check out your local 7-day forecasts.

Be sure to find out what to have in your home emergency supply kit, too!

Reader Comments

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Don't forget the kids!

For each of our kids we keep in the car: a blanket, handwarmer, Mylar blanket, extra hat, scarf and mittens, extra sweater, extra change of clothes, and diapers and dry cloth wipes, so they are not wet and freezing! Those are always in the car during winter along with items for the car and myself and partner. Whenever we go anywhere though, we pack our "diaper bag" backpack with bottles of water, age appropriate snacks and a packet of dry milk in addition to our usual child necessities. We always bring heavy coats and bibs and if they are not wearing snow boots already, we toss them in just in case. It's a lot of extra stuff, especially with more than one kid, but it's worth it. And like most cars that transport kids, there are some toys and kid items. If something were to happen, they would be there to keep the kids occupied.

Remember, absolutely do not put a child in a carseat while wearing winter gear- they can slip out of the straps. My kids' blankets are folded in between their car seats for easy access, they can reach them and use them anytime they want in the car. An infant would probably be snuggled under a blanket already (mine always were!)

I'm sure there are other items that could be helpful for children, but everyone's needs are different, so just keep them in kind when preparing your vehicle.

Always carry cash

Keep some cash in your stash as well. Not everyone accepts plastic. Cash will also get you through if you lose your wallet!

Oh; and sources of ignition; carry MATCHES; not butane lighters, if you're in a cold climate. Butane won't go to a gaseous state below 15*. If you are in a bad situation, and a "Bic lighter" is all you have, put it close to your body for a while before using it, to warm the butane.


For those of us in cold zones (prone to freezing weather for many months), bottled water SOUNDS like a good idea, but keeping it in the car means frozen water or shattered bottles during freeze/thaw cycles.

Anyone got a good alternative?

RE: Question

About the only thing you can do is carry a bottle or two of water with you, not leaving it in the car. I have an EDC (Every Day Carry) pack that I carry to and from work. Along with several, "prepper" items, here's room for a couple of water bottles in the pockets of it.

Bottled water actually holds up pretty well when frozen. I routinely use them as ice packs, keeping them in a sub-zero freezer until needed. Trouble is, you have to defrost the thing before you can drink it...

Thanks for the advice! Hope

Thanks for the advice! Hope we don't need to use it, but better to have it and not need it... :)

Common sense adds

Wooden matches, and old newspaper or magazine, hand sanitizer, chap stick, small bottle of Windex (many uses), paper towels, flashlight, All can be kept in a new paint can (cheap at hardware stores - keep the key in the glove box, center console, or ash tray).

I keep 2 Duraflame logs in my

I keep 2 Duraflame logs in my trunk, you never know how long you may wait for help if you slide off the road.

fully charged unactivated cell phone

unactivated cell phones cost you next to nothing to keep charged in your vehicle and 911 service is a mandatory feature - usually no sim required and triangulation via cell towers can actually assist emergency crews to locate your whereabouts in a life or death situation.

Not to sound paranoid, but a

Not to sound paranoid, but a handgun might come in handy!

A car emergency kit should be

A car emergency kit should be available in worst case scenario - being trapped inside your car. All those items are of absolute no use if placed in the trunk. The only things to be placed in the trunk are shovel, kitty litter, tow rope, etc. Anything required for survival should be placed INSIDE the car and always accessible. That means if you're driving by yourself, the emergency kit should be up front with you and not in the backseat.


Most new cars have access to trunk thru backseat

He's right

I was hit by a truck and sent off the side of an overpass on my way home for Christmas. Temp was -5 deg F. I survived bc I had a huge old heavy old Eldorado. The weight of that car kept it from flipping, and the long long nose of that car saved my life. BUT...the entire nose and engine etc had smashed onto my legs and pelvis, and had me pinned in the car. The door was off, and windshield busted exposing me to the extreme cold. My hands were free. I had a thermal blanket in the front seat etc. Luckily, it was early evening, and on the interstate so like 100 people rushed to my aid. They covered me till the ambulance and fire dept arrived.

But had I been alone...i wouldnt have been able to get to the trunk through the back seat for my bag, or even the back seat, or even the floor on the front seat. I agree keep your bag within arms reach, and even belt it to the console or whatever so it doesnt get thrown. If I had had to wait for help, id have had protein bars, water, cell phone, and my thermal blanket all within reach.

The awesome ending to this story is that one of the ENT's, and the first guy to put his head inside my car, was dressed like Santa Clause. I actually thought I was hallucinating. But I wasn't. He was suppose to play Santa at the Children's hospital and was ready to head over when he got the 911 call. He had a big pack of teddy bears in the fire truck for the kids, and he gave me one, and I still have it till this day.

But...the pack should always be where you can reach it.

Things to add to this list:

Things to add to this list: include a first aid kit (bandages, flex tape & quickclot). Roll of ductape, small pocket knife such as the Buck Rescue Knife (can break glass and cut seatbelts), small can with candle and matches, rotate a small stash of medicine you might need, extra pair of regular prescription glasses, add one or two cheap Cree Ultrafire Q5 3 mode flashlights $4/$5 each. See other common sense ideas at

I have heard of the candle

I have heard of the candle and lighter.When a lighter gets cold it will not light,you will have to get it warm by putting it close to your body to warm it up before it will light.A tin can to put your candle in would make a good little stove to keep you warm and it would be safer as far as keeping your car from catching on fire or getting melted wax everywhere.

A candle and lighter in your

A candle and lighter in your survival kit. A little warmth from the lit candle will help take away a bit of the chill.