Building Your Car or Truck Emergency Kit

In another article, I wrote about the importance of having an emergency kit in your vehicle when you travel.  In this article, we will take a closer look at what you may want to include in your emergency kit and some important considerations.

Photo by Ashim D’Silva on Unsplash

Photo by Ashim D’Silva on Unsplash

Items to Include in Your Emergency Kit

There is no definitive list of tools or supplies that you should always carry in your vehicle.  However, I have created a list for you to consider when building your kit.  Each vehicle is different and may have different needs.  I’ll get into that a little more in the next section. However, here is the list you might want to consider:

  • A flashlight
  • Reflectors or cones
  • Jumper cables or a portable jump starter
  • Toolkit (screwdrivers, adjustable wrench, pliers, etc.)
  • First aid kit
  • Water – especially if traveling through the desert
  • Battery charger for your cell phone
  • Work gloves
  • Duct tape
  • Electrical tape
  • Rope or towing straps
  • A rain poncho
  • Scissors
  • Wire (small gauge, so it is easily bendable)
  • Tire pressure gauge
  • Extra fuses
  • Blanket, candles, tin can, lighter


Most of these items are self-explanatory. However, I want to highlight a few of the benefits of some of them. First, consider bringing along a gallon or two of clean drinking water. You can use this for your radiator or if you run out of windshield washer fluid. Also, you can drink it, if necessary.  Carrying clean drinking water is highly recommended for people traveling through deserts or remote locations.


Next, consider carrying thick, yet bendable wire.  You can use this wire to temporarily bind things together that cannot be bound with duct tape. This may include slippery or hot items (such as a tailpipe). This is definitely not recommended as a permanent fix; only use the wire in a pinch.

Portable Jump Starters

If your battery goes dead, your first reaction might be to get out the jumper cables and have someone let you jump start your car by attaching your battery to their battery. This is great, as long as someone else is around with a good battery and they are willing to help. With advancements in battery technology, a new product has emerged known as the portable jump starter.  These devices can be as small as a cell phone but have the power to jump-start your car. They can also be used to recharge your cell phone or other devices.  While prices vary, they are well worth the cost.  Not only can you quickly start your car, but you also do not need another car or jumper cables.  Simply attach the cables on the portable jump starter to your battery and start your car. I really encourage people who travel a lot to carry one of these.

Blanket, Candles, a Tin Can, and a Lighter

If you are traveling in very cold weather, you may want to consider bringing these items to keep you warm.  If your car or truck breaks down, even if you call someone to help you, it may take a while for them to reach you.  If your car engine fails or runs out of gas, you’ll need to keep warm.  The blanket can help. But you can also light the candles, place them in a tin can (like a coffee can) and hold the can to keep warm.

Make or Buy

If you do not want to make a kit, there are plenty available to buy online. They range in price from about $20 to $60 or more. However, I like to put together my own kit, depending on the weather I’m driving in and the vehicle I’m using.  Either way, do yourself a favor and be prepared.


Written by Gary Pradel