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What Should I Keep in the Car for Emergencies?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated May 23, 2024
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Of course, we never want our car to break down, especially if that puts us in any type of emergency situation. Yet it's something we all should be prepared for in case it happens. Although a cell phone and an auto club membership are a good start, keeping a few basic items in the car for emergencies can often make a huge difference in surviving the emergency and maintaining at least some comfort during the ordeal.

WATER — Drinking water is extremely important to have in the car for emergencies, especially in hot weather, but it is needed any time of year. People can survive a lot longer without food than they can without water. Make sure you keep enough water for the whole family as well as water to use if the engine overheats.

FOOD — The best emergency food to keep in the car at all times is high energy food bars. Look for the ones that provide an entire day's calories in just one bar. These survival food bars are designed to fill you up and to reduce thirst. The problem with keeping actual food items in vehicles is that food tends to spoil fast when stored in cars. What you can do is to keep a supply of foods such as canned beans and canned fruit, with a manual can opener and eating utensils, in the car for emergencies and keep replacing the food items before they spoil or become damaged.

BLANKETS — Two types of blankets should be kept in the car for emergencies. A foil energy blanket is usually packaged to take up very little room and can offer much needed warmth for those stranded in a cold car that won't start, especially at night when the temperature may dip to dangerous levels. Look for emergency foil bags rather than blankets as these can really keep the heat in! You should also have a few wool blankets in your car as wool stays warm even when wet. Wool blankets can even be draped around the body and worn as clothing, if needed.

CLOTHING — A few pairs of inexpensive gloves and some knitted caps can be great to have in an emergency. A lot of body heat is lost through the head and stretchy gloves can add an extra level of protection against wind. A hooded rain poncho is an excellent item to keep in the car for emergencies as it can be worn over clothing if you need to change a tire in the rain. A spare fleece jacket, and maybe sweat pants also, for each member of the family is a good addition to the hats and gloves. You can wear soft, loose clothing to add extra layers of warmth or use it to ball up into a makeshift pillow, if needed.

OTHER SUPPLIES — Emergency flares and a first aid kit are good items to have in the car for emergencies. A large flashlight and a shovel are other great items to have. You should always think about the particular weather conditions and areas that you drive in so that you can assess what your emergency needs would most likely be. Make notes on your calendar at the beginning of each year to remind yourself of when to change or check your emergency car items!

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Discussion Comments
By Heavanet — On Feb 19, 2014

Good tip Rundocuri. Playground sand is another option for getting out from being stuck in snow, ice, and even mud.

By Rundocuri — On Feb 18, 2014

If you live in an area where snow and ice is a concern, you may want to consider carrying some cat litter in your car for emergency preparedness. If you get stuck in snow or ice, putting the cat litter around the tires can help you gain traction and get out of a jam.

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