vehicle emergency kit

Considering how much time we spend commuting or otherwise sitting behind the wheel of a motor vehicle it is wise to keep a vehicle emergency kit in your vehicle in case disaster strikes while you are on the road.

More and more people consider a fully-charged cell phone to be an everyday essential item that we would not leave home without, but don’t be fooled into thinking that this can solve all problems you may encounter when you are out and about in your car or truck.

A vehicle emergency kit can come in quite handy even in everyday emergencies, such as when you have a flat tire or engine trouble leaves you stranded. It can be especially helpful if your vacation or short road trip leads you to a blizzard, earthquake, or other natural disaster.

Your Vehicle Emergency Kit should include:


  • First-Aid Kit
  • Necessary medications (see Note 1 below,)
  • Fully charged cell phone and charger,
  • Paper and pens/pencils,
  • Coat or warm jacket,
  • Hand warmers or instant hot packs,
  • Hat for cold or hot weather protection,
  • Gloves for warmth or protection from debris,
  • Sunglasses,
  • Umbrella for shelter from rain or sun,
  • Comfortable walking shoes and extra socks.


Food and Water:

  • Commercially bottled water, one gallon per day for each person and pet,
  • Food items containing protein such as nuts and energy bars,
  • Canned foods,
  • Manually operated can opener,
  • Disposable plates or bowls, cups, and utensils,
  • View the Food and Water for Emergencies page for more information.



  • Flares,
  • Mirror or other signaling device,
  • Glow sticks,
  • Flashlights and extra batteries,
  • Battery-operated AM/FM radio with extra batteries (for traffic reports and emergency messages,)
  • Jumper cables,
  • Tow rope,
  • Cat litter or sand (to improve tire traction,)
  • Shovel,
  • Ice scraper.
  • Fire Extinguisher for Class B and C fires (see Note 2 below).


Optional extras:

  • Lightweight emergency blanket,
  • Sleeping bag(s)


For pets:

  • Food (packaged appropriately for long-term storage, such as canned food + manual can opener)
  • Commercially bottled Water,
  • Necessary pet medications, (see Note 1 below)
  • Bowl for food and water,
  • Collar and leash,
  • Rolling or backpack-type pet carrier, stroller, or case and luggage carrier for small dogs or cats,
  • Blanket and/or towel.


If you have children or infants with you include items such as formula, diapers, and a comforting toy or blanket.


Note 1: Safe storage of medication can be problematic due to high temperatures inside vehicles. Food must be packaged so that storage in a hot car will not compromise quality or destroy food value. Even so, long term storage in a vehicle may shorten the shelf life of properly packaged food items due to heat inside vehicles.

Note 2: FEMA (the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency) recommends using a fire extinguisher approved for use on class B and class C fires. Check the fire extinguisher carefully to determine the safe temperature storage range. Some fire extinguishers may limit safe storage to a maximum of 120 degrees Fahrenheit, for example. Storage in a closed vehicle during the daytime can exceed this temperature.


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