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Home » Preparedness

What To Put In An Emergency Car Kit- PLUS Printable Checklist!

Submitted by on November 29, 2012 – 8:14 am 22 Comments
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printable emergency car kit checklist

*Click HERE for the FREE Printable Emergency Car Kit Checklist*

Today, I would like to take some time to encourage all of you to put together your own emergency car kit if you haven’t done so already.


Because things happen.

Dangerous storms, natural disasters, winter weather, and national emergencies sometimes come out of nowhere at inconvenient times. Usually you have to deal with an emergency wherever you are. And for many people that might be while you are on the road, and away from home.

Even something as simple as a blown tire on the side of the highway is enough to put you into emergency mode when you’ve got children in tow! Sure, help may only be a phone call away, but sitting on the side of a busy interstate in the blazing sun or in freezing winter weather for an hour or more with a couple of uncomfortable and starving children has the potential to be an incredibly stressful situation.

Wouldn’t it be such a comfort to just have everything you would need to get by until the worst part was over? Parents, wouldn’t you like be able to keep your children happy and comfortable until help arrived?

Having an emergency car kit is a good idea for everybody everywhere. At the very least it could take a load of stress out of a very stressful situation, and at the most it could potentially save your life, and the lives of your loved ones.

If you haven’t already assembled an emergency car kit, today is the day you start getting one prepared! And I’ve made it easy, I’ve done all the hard work and created a printable Emergency Car Kit Checklist for you to go by. I dare say, it is probably the most thorough list on the web!

I’ve been working hard on this checklist for the past few days because I’m actually right there with you if you aren’t completely prepared with a car kit yet. At one point, I had my kits somewhat put together and in place in the family vehicle. But over the past year, I’ve picked at it a little here and a little there, using up things as I needed them. And it never was really complete to begin with. So, it’s time for me to update my supplies and add the final touches.

Plus, I’ve learned that some of the things I did were a big “no-no” and will need to be corrected (boy am I glad I didn’t find this out before I really needed my kit!).

So, click on the link at the top of this post to check out the spreadsheet I’ve created. If you think of anything that should be added, please feel free to make suggestions. You’ll notice I’ve included comments to many of the items listed. These are valuable tips to consider when packing your kit, so take time to read them.

But where am I supposed to store all of this stuff?

I know some of you are looking at this and thinking, “I don’t have room for all that stuff!” Even if you have a small car, there are places you can stuff supplies throughout the interior. In the glove box, underneath seats, in the trunk… it doesn’t all have to be in one place. Get creative. Plus, you don’t have to have everything on my list. Pack the most basic of basics if your space is severely limited.

But building a car kit is expensive!

It can be. But it doesn’t have to be. Start by going through the checklist and filling a tub with things you already have laying around your home. Put these things in your car, and slowly build your stash from there. Buy an extra food item once a week, or once a month, to put into your kit. Something is better than nothing, so do whatever you can as you are able.

Please consider the importance of having a well stocked vehicle. Especially if you have children depending on you for survival.

Think it won’t happen to you? I’m sure these families didn’t either:

{UPDATE: It looks like the links to these stories have been deleted from their news pages, but you still get the idea.}

The Tragic Story of the Kim Family, who got off on the wrong road, then stranded in snowy weather. Found nine days later, here’s how some survived, and sadly, one did not. (You can also watch the firsthand account interview here.)

A 9 year old girl survives a car accident that left her trapped in an upside down car for two days.

Family trapped in snowbound car for days. Fortunately, they were somewhat prepared!

Man survives being trapped in car for 6 1/2 days by melting snow, and eating peanut butter and packets of taco sauce.

Tips to remember…

1. Don’t ever leave your car, unless it is no longer safe to stay there, or help is within sight.

2. Pack some food and water within reach of each family member in case an accident traps you in your seat. A whistle and blanket within reach would also be a good idea, if possible.

3. If you get stuck in the snow, get out of your car and make sure the tailpipe isn’t blocked off. If it isn’t clear, carbon monoxide can fill the vehicle and is undetectable and deadly. Crack your car window slightly every now and then just in case poisonous gases are building up, and to get fresh air circulating.

4. Run the heat no more than 15 min. every hour to conserve fuel.

I hope I never have to use my car kit for a major emergency. At the very least, if we’re away from home longer than expected I’ll have basic supplies to keep my family content.

It’s so much better to have the stuff and need it, than need it and not have it.

Do you have a car kit packed? If not, make it a goal to get it assembled in the next week.

**Printing Instructions:

If you are having trouble printing the checklist, try this.

File (on spreadsheet) –> Download As –> Web Page (.html, current sheet)

A new window will open up. Go to the File menu, and click on Print Preview. Select the Landscape option, and Scale: Fit To Page. Then Print away!



  • Theora says:

    I keep a jar of hard candy and cheap chocolates in my car. It’s candy I don’t really like, so I don’t eat it. It keeps forever, so it’s great for emergency calories. I usually have a stash of granola bars for days when breakfast never happened, or if I’m really hungry on the way home. Several bottles of water. I live in New England, and you can get stranded in heavy snow. I have a jar and some tea light candles and matches. The jar can be the candle holder for safety, but a tiny flame provides a great deal of comfort and cheer.

    I also have an LED flashlight that charges in the lighter socket, and have given these to my family, too. And they’ve come in handy. An old blanket or 2 is likely to be useful for a picnic, or for warmth. Extra mittens, fleece pullover, etc., is great for a real emergency, or if the day turns colder than you thought.

    My car is usually with me, so keeping a 1t aid kit in it is a good idea that I will implement. And it’s easy to pick up a spare backpack at a thrift shop.


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  • Stephanie says:

    A belt cutter and glass break should be secured so that it is accessible to the driver by being within reach.

  • A roadside emergency is something everyone hopes won’t happen to them, but accidents happen every day. It’s best to be prepared. My husband’s sister lost control of her truck on the freeway, and luckily nobody was hurt. She was able to drift off the road and bring her car to a stop. I know I’ll be making a kit like this, and sharing this article with her. Thanks!

  • Debbie says:

    How good is the food during the summertime. I would be a little leary of some of the items melting or ruining.

  • Steph says:

    What kind of bags are those in the photo? They look like they have a ton of pockets, which would be really helpful for stuff like this.

  • What about things that freeze? How do you handle that?

    • Lauren-Mae,

      You definitely need to take liquids into consideration when you live in areas that are prone to freezing winters. That’s one reason I like the water in boxes. When they freeze, they expand and don’t burst like full water bottles do. If you must use plastic water bottles, make sure they are emptied out a little to accommodate for the expansion of frozen water. Besides water, the only thing that might possibly freeze could be some medicines. In that case, keep them in a purse or diaper bag that you would bring with you to the car anyway.

  • Colette says:

    Just wondering – why are juice boxes not preferred?

  • Joe says:

    Just wanted to say, that lifehammer should be kept within reach of the driver, not inside a kit that is probably in the trunk or something.

  • Caroline says:

    Here are directions I found once online for a free DIY female urination device from a plastic coffee can type lid after having a discussion with some young ladies on a road trip.

    .Coffee Can Lid/Flexible Plastic Disc
    This is a rather simple device that can be easily made at home. Take the flexible plastic lid from a can of coffee grinds, or from a similar package (like a cottage cheese container or large yogurt tub), and cut away the lip so it is flat. The lid needs to be flexible enough to roll into a funnel shape or a U-shape for use. Hold the funnel end/U-end far enough back so that you position it behind your urethral opening. Aim the pointed end down toward the toilet bowl, and pee. You will have to practice to get the hang of it. You can also experiment with trimming and rolling the device in a manner that works best for you. These devices are easy to carry and conceal in your back pocket, or even in a small pocket in your underwear. Very fine grit sandpaper can be used to smooth out any rough edges.

  • Lisa says:

    Thanks for posting this excellent list. Living far out of town, I often wonder what we’d do if we broke down (cell reception is spotty in our area). Will be talking with the husband this weekend about setting up kits for our cars. Blessings, ~Lisa

  • Lanna says:

    Yup, but need to get them switched over from regular to winter car kits. I got some great foldable coolers from Costco a while back that fit a ton of stuff and are easy to carry/smush into the trunks of the cars. 🙂 Since I use most of the spaces in my minivan I’ve also rigged up a giant/flat Ziploc bag underneath the bench seat with things we’d only need if stuck in the middle of nowhere or a true emergency (extra blankets, water, diapers, gloves, snacks, deck of cards, etc.). Only take that out to vacuum crumbs out of the poor van.

  • Ashley H. says:

    Awesome post! We have 3 cars and I have been planning this out for a while because we do drive all of them. With my luck we would have the issue and the needed items would be in another vehicle. 😉

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