The Practical Prepper
Having a general, basic emergency kit in your house is essential, and putting together an evacuation kit is important too. However, for those of us that drive an automobile, preparedness also means keeping a dedicated emergency kit our vehicle. Here are things that we've included in our car kit:
- Jumper cables : These are a mainstay in any vehicle emergency kit. I've carried jumper cables in every car I've ever had. They get used about once a year, give or take… often to assist others who don't have cables of their own. You can find some relatively inexpensive ones, but it's worth buying heavy-gauge cables. We have 12-foot long cables to ensure that we can reach from the battery of one car to the other. You'll want to be sure you know how to safely jump-start your car, however.
- LED flashlight: Any flashlight will be helpful, but having an LED flashlight will mean longer battery life and much less chance of the bulbs going out. There are many to choose from, and some are very inexpensive, so you may want to have a couple, maybe of different kinds. We have more than one, and one of them is a hand-cranked flashlight, so we don't have to worry about the batteries being dead when we really need light.
- Emergency Shovel : This is critical when you're driving in a potentially snowy climate, although a shovel can be useful when stuck in the mud too. There are many small or folding shovels available, but we carry the one that's linked here because it's lightweight and compact, yet very sturdy when ready to use. Plus, it has a bit more surface area than other folding shovels I've encountered. Of course, if you think digging in mud or sand might be more likely, then you may want to consider alternatives.
- Emergency Thermal Blankets : The linked mylar blankets are great for an emergency. Of course, we carry some spare blankets that work fine too. The important thing is to have some when you're stuck somewhere and it's cold out!
- Bottles of water: Having bottles of water in your car is a good idea in case you're stranded. I prefer stainless steel ones since they're more durable and have less chance of leaching any chemicals into the water as it's stored in a variety of temperatures. We don't fill the bottles all the way; instead, we leave some headspace, especially when we'll be the time of year where the water might freeze. We also change out our emergency water periodically too (usually during our biannual inventorying of all our emergency kits).
- Tools: At bare minimum, you should carry a multitool, which is what I started with. They range from inexpensive to very expensive , so you should be able to readily find one with the tools you want and price point you can afford. In addition, it's a good idea to consider putting together (or buying) as small kit of tools to keep in your car. A small, inexpensive set like this 39-piece general tool set would cover many of the tasks you might encounter. A more robust set like this 130-piece kit is still compact enough, but would cover the majority of your needs.
- Gloves: We carry a good set of basic leather gloves. These help protect our hands when working on or around the car in an emergency. They can also help keep our hands warm in colder weather, in the event we don't have winter gloves with us.
- Gas can : We carry a small, empty gas can so that it's ready to fill in case we run out of gas. By the way, carrying a full can of gas can be problematic, from a safety and/or legality standpoint. Plus, you have to be sure to treat the fuel to allow it to remain useful as it's stored. (Of course, having a preparedness mindset means that we try to fill up out gas tank when it's half-full. Doing so is helpful in avoiding the need for this gas can in the first place.)
- Road flares: We carry the old-fashioned incendiary road flares, even though they generally last only a short time — as little as 15 minutes! You may want to consider electronic LED Emergency Beacon Flares , which will get you more hours of warning time for other motorists, without the hazards of burning flares.
- Roadside warning triangles: As an alternative to road flares (or better yet, "in addition to"), you may want to keep a set of warning triangles in your kit in order to forewarn other drivers of your incapacitated vehicle.
- First aid kit: We simply carry a very small, basic first aid kit. Whether you build one or buy one, have some basic first aid supplies in your vehicle.
- Printed state map: We always keep an actual paper map of the state(s) we frequently travel within. Having a GPS device in our phone is very helpful, but always have a printed backup in case our phone(s) aren't working for some reason.
- Notepaper and pen: Having a pen and paper can be helpful in many everyday ways. From a preparedness stantdpoint, you can use them to leave a note behind if you have to abandon your car for some reason (for example, if you need to walk back a half-mile to a gas station).
- Walking shoes: I carry a comfortable pair of good-quality walking shoes that fit well, provide good support, and are broken-in. Having a pair of walking shoes is especially critical if you regularly wear sandals, high heels, or any other shoes that aren't built for walking long distances (and don't forget socks too!). Of course, if you expect to be off road, hiking shoes may be more appropriate. Just don't forget to change into your alternative shoes before you leave your automobile.
- Mobile phone car chargers: We always carry a mobile phone charger in each of our vehicles. That way, our phone will essentially have power as longer as the car does.
- Storage container(s): It's very helpful to keep your emergency gear in some kind of container. A plastic storage bin is ideal, since it will keep road dust out, as well as any water, should your vehicle have a leak. If a larger bin won't work for you, try multiple smaller ones. The main thing is to keep your emergency gear clean, dry, and together, so that it's ready when you need it.
To save some time, you can purchase a preassembled car emergency kit. However, bear in mind that you'll only get some of the above items; you'll still need to gather the other ones on your own.
Believing that preparedness and self-reliance are key to individual freedom, Atticus Freeman is the founder of the Self-Reliant Info blog, in addition to authoring The Practical Prepper weekly blog here on Farm Dreams. Thanks for reading!