What to put in an emergency car kit

DRIVE Team
September 12

Stay prepared with this list of essential first-aid and safety items for your car.

From road trips to your daily commute, emergencies and the unexpected can happen when driving. Keeping a kit of essentials in your car to help deal with everything from common first-aid needs to larger road-side emergencies is key to helping you drive safe.

Here’s what should be in your emergency car kit:

1. First-aid kit

If packing your own first-aid kit isn’t on your to-do list, fear not. Prepared first-aid kits are readily available anywhere automotive supplies are sold, in addition to being found through many online stores. But if packing your own is the way you want to go, here are some of the essentials:

  • Bandages in various sizes (pack more than you think you need – scrapes and nicks are bound to happen when dealing with car troubles)
  • Sterile gauze pads in various sizes
  • First aid tape
  • Antiseptic towelettes
  • Mylar rescue blanket
  • Latex-free gloves
  • CPR face shield
  • Tweezers
  • Scissors
2. Food and water

If you find yourself stuck on the side of the road, it might take a while for help to get there. That means the wait for your next meal could be even longer! Keeping a small amount of non-perishable food and water in the car will help keep you calm as you wait for help, and keep your hunger at bay. Things like granola bars, fruit packs (think baby food), cereal and nuts are all easy to store in small packages in the car.

3. Extra clothing

Weather conditions can change quickly. Keep additional items like extra warm layers, hats, gloves, socks (nobody likes wet feet), and even a cheap plastic rain poncho in a bag in the car. Remember to pack a bag for the kids, too.

4. Car Blanket

The car blanket has evolved from a simple wool square to a heated contraption sure to warm any weary traveler. Both will do the job if you’re stuck on the side of the road, but the heated option is something to consider when building out your emergency kit.

5. Instant Heat Packs

Keeping a few packs of these hand-friendly warmers in your car is a must in the winter season. If you need to work outside the car on a cold day, instant heat packs can help keep your hands (or feet) from over-exposure to the cold. And nothing feels better than warming your hands on a frigid winter’s day!

6. Auto Safety Kit

A kit of first-aid essentials is a must in the event of injury, but don’t forget about a kit of other safety-related items you may need in the event of a breakdown or emergency. Things that should also be easily found in the car are:

  • Flares
  • Waterproof matches
  • Flashlight
  • Tea lights
  • Work gloves
  • Road flares
  • Whistle
  • Multi-function screwdriver
  • Seat belt cutter (best to keep this somewhere accessible to the front seat in case you need it in an emergency)
7. Fire Extinguisher

A small engine fire can turn serious in seconds. Having a fire extinguisher at the ready can help prevent further car damage and in some cases save lives.

8. Canned Tire Inflator

Yep, you can temporarily fix a flat tire with an aerosol can! If changing a flat in your current situation won’t work, having a can of tire inflator in your trunk can come in handy. It’s not a permanent fix and doesn’t last long, but it should be enough to get you off the road safely or to a mechanic.

9. Windshield Washer Fluid

A drive through messy conditions can quickly use up washer fluid and put your windshield at risk of an obstructed view. To keep things looking crystal clear, always carry an extra container of windshield washer fluid. Next time you gas up, look at the big stack of washer fluid at the pumps and purchase one.

10. Booster Cables

A dead battery can happen to the best of us. Booster cables are a must-have for any driver. If you’re not sure how booster cables work on your car, ask your mechanic for an explanation next time you are in for an appointment.

11. Extra Gas

If you’re planning on a long road trip, especially into areas you aren’t familiar with, carrying extra gas in a no-spill can should be something you consider having with you.

It’s good practice to set a reminder in your calendar at the beginning of every season to review what’s in your emergency kits so you remember where things are and what’s in them. It’s also good practice to have your car serviced going into a new season to have your vehicle inspected and serviced. Sign-up for DRIVE and let our concierge service help you handle all of your car maintenance and service bookings.

This article offers general information only and is not intended as legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. While information presented is believed to be factual and current, its accuracy is not guaranteed and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the author(s) as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by RBC Ventures Inc. or its affiliates.