Maybe you think that as long as you carry an extra cell phone battery in your glove compartment, you’ll be covered for any emergency car kit you could encounter while driving.
But a working cell phone alone will not keep you prepared for disaster on the road. What if you’re in severe weather or you have an accident that renders your phone unusable? What if you’re traveling in a remote area with no phone reception and your car break down? At the very least, arm yourself with these must-haves so you’re prepared for the worst.
Here is everything you need to pack in a car survival kit.
- Fire sticks/starter, light sticks, candles and flashlights
Why all four? You never know when one will fail, and you don’t want to be stuck at night without light to help you see or a fire to keep warm should you find yourself stranded while traveling.
- Blankets, rain ponchos, coats, shoes, hats, gloves, socks and a change of clothes for every family member
If you’re traveling in the winter, keep clothes dry in waterproof containers. You’ll be able to stay warm by bundling up and not have to burn the car’s fuel reserves by running the heater. You also decrease the risk of harmful fumes.
- A cell phone lighter adapter and charger
- A battery-powered radio
Replace the batteries every few months with new ones
- Extra batteries in a variety of sizes
Check and replace them every few months if you don’t use them. In this category also lies extra cell phone batteries.
- A first-aid kit
Stock it with first-aid essentials, including allergy-relief meds as well as any prescription meds your family needs. Keep all prescriptions in their original prescription bottles.
- Food and water
For example, you’ll want to include food like trail mix, energy bars and dried fruit. Rotate food and water monthly to make sure it’s fresh. A general volume rule for water consumption is one gallon per person per day. If you’re traveling out into the wilderness, also remember to carry water purification tablets.
- An aerosol tire inflator with hose such as Fix-a-FlatA jack
- A spare tire
If you haven’t checked your spare tire’s condition in a while, make sure it’s ready-to-use regularly.
- Jumper cables
- A five-foot square moving blanket or old carpet for traction if your car gets stuck in mud or snow
- Tow chains
- An ice scraper for your windows
- A car escape tool to break windows in case your car becomes submerged underwater
You might think you’ll never need this, but the CBC reported that a Canadian family was saved by one of these car-escape gadgets in 2014 when an accident veered their SUV off-course into a pond. The ResQMe device fits on a keychain and also has a blade for cutting seatbelts.
- Paper maps
Don’t solely rely on GPS. If you’re out of range, it won’t do you any good. Keep a map of your state and a country atlas handy.
- A compass
In the event you find yourself without a working phone/GPS, you’ll need it if the sun isn’t shining.
- Flares and distress flags
- A folding shovel
You might need it to dig out sand, mud or ice; if you’re really traveling remotely, you might even need it to dig for water.
- Metal cups for boiling water
- Sanitary wipes
- A wire saw that cuts through plastic and wood, in case you need shelter
Here are a few additional survival tips for car travel:
While it may be tempting to keep your car survival kit in the trunk, don’t. If the trunk gets frozen shut or if you’re in an accident, there’s no way to reach the kit.
Always let friends or family members know your route and expected arrival time if you are traveling long distances.
If your car is stuck in the mud or snow and won’t move, do not run the engine more than 10 minutes every hour and when you do, make sure the windows are open and that another passenger is awake and aware. This will not only save gas, but also it will help to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
It’s also important to maintain your vehicle so it can transport you safely from Point A to Point B. Depending on your car’s condition, you should also consider a survival kit for it that could include:
- Brake fluid