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What to pack in your car in case of an emergency

Our field engineers are always on-the-go. Whether it’s heading across state lines to perform an inspection or traveling right down the road, we’ve found it’s always best to be prepared for the unexpected. That’s why we put together this list of our picks for essentials that everyone should pack in their car in case of an emergency.

1. Flashlight or headlamp

First, man learned the secret of fire. Then, he created a flashlight. You may be tempted to use your cell phone flashlight, but your phone has more important work to do in an emergency. Save the battery, get a real flashlight. 

This roadside kit includes a Gerber Multi-Tool and light wands, or look at the many options from MagLite. If you want your hands free, invest in a head-lamp. REI put together it’s own list of the best headlamps.

2. Car Battery Jump Starter  

Jumper cables may work but a charged battery jump starter will save you the hassle of finding a good Samaritan to lend you a connection. This one’s a little pricey, but comes with all sorts of bells and whistles, like a bright LED light and air compressor.

3. First-aid kit

One of the best investments you can make is a simple first aid kit. This one from Johnson & Johnson comes highly rated for a great price.

4. Food and water

Pack non-perishable food and bring a large reusable water bottle with you anytime you are in the car. The recent debacle on I-95 had people stuck in their cars not moving for 30 hours. While trail mix might not be your first choice for dinner, it sure beats nothing.

Bonus: Look for high-energy non-perishables, like these energy chews, to help get a boost when you need it most.

5. Reflective Triangles and Safety Vest

The thing about emergencies is that you never know when or where they’ll happen. If you get stuck on the shoulder of a round-about exit at night, having reflective gear might save your life.

This vest will help you stand out and these triangles are DOT approved.

Other Great Picks

In addition to the five staples above, here are some other items you should consider when building your kit:

  1. Fire extinguisher
  2. Duct tape
  3. Rain poncho
  4. Phone charger
  5. Emergency blanket
  6. Seat belt cutter and window breaker tools
  7. Tire gauge
  8. Coolant
  9. WD-40
  10. Rags

Bonus: A good duffle to keep it all in. Here’s a nice cargo hauler from Eagle Creek.

Note: The products we reference here are examples, not endorsements. We do not receive compensation from any of the brands mentioned.