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Baby Steps: Build Your Emergency Car Kit


Baby Steps: Build Your Emergency Car Kit. Emergency Essentials Blog.


“During the winter of 1998 I was living in Northern Virginia and owned a historic VW bus. One evening after leaving work at 10 pm, I was driving too fast on iced over roads and slid off the road in a rural area. The bus traveled down a snowy hill and smashed into several trees. I broke the tibia bone in my leg and lost conscience for several hours after hitting my head on the solid metal driver’s door. I awoke around 3 am and tried to walk away from the accident, but couldn't because of my leg. I decided my best option was to stay put and had two blankets in the van to try and stay warm. The only food I had was some left over fast food from the previous day that were destined for the trash. It was half a burger, a handful of fries and three packets of ketchup. I ate everything. A driver passing by at 8 am saw the van and stopped to investigate. If he hadn't, I don't think I would have been found for another day or more. I realized that I wasn't prepared enough for that situation. I share what happened to me with all my friends and family in order to prepare them as well.”

YIKES!! We’re glad you survived! Your story really got me thinking, "What I would I have done?" Thanks to your stories, I’m convinced to spend this weekend prepping. I’m getting an emergency car kit for sure. No more procrastination.

Baby Step 1: Buying an emergency car kit. But while I’m waiting for my order to arrive, what can I put together? What do I need in order to survive in my car? In addition to the standard car maintenance items of course.

Uh oh. The standards. Do I even have those?

Baby step 2: Make sure I have basic car maintenance items. These include a tire pressure gauge, a jack, a lug wrench, a spare tire, and jumper cables. (Note to self: buy a spare tire this weekend!) If you don’t have the tools included in the Auto Tool Kit then consider buying the kit. Winterize your car too – stop at your mechanic’s or a lube shop if you need help.

Third Baby step: Figure out which “extras” I already have at home. Extra backpack to hold everything – check. Extra blanket – check. Extra gloves – check. Extra hat – check. Extra sleeping bag? A tarp or mat (to kneel on when changing the tire)? Flashlight, food...

… What food have I got at home that I can put together tonight? Some dried fruit, nuts – but those won’t last me long-term. Some granola bars? Those have a lot of sugar for quick energy boosts, but not enough calories to sustain me. I really need one of these high-calorie food bars. They don’t take up a lot of room and they’re sturdy enough to withstand extreme temperatures. It’s no steak dinner, but it’ll keep me alive if I’m stuck in my car for a couple of days.

And what do I do about water? If I keep water in the car it’ll freeze. Does anyone have any good suggestions on how to keep liquid in my car without it freezing? Should I keep a filter or purifier and try to use snow instead?

Fourth baby step: Get a map and find alternative routes for my normal drive. If you’re going into the city this weekend, or traveling around your state, take a little time to explore a road you wouldn’t normally take. Even if I’m not stranded, knowing alternate routes will be a big help when freeway traffic is at a stand-still.

From Google Maps Jan. 24, 2013

If you’ve already done these baby steps, well done! You’re obviously ready to baby step on a more advanced level. Read through Craig’s story again. What would you do if you were stranded and had no means of communication? (i.e., you don’t have a phone, you can’t get service, or it’s dead.) How would you signal for help? Do you have a bright-colored flag or banner? Do you have some kind of whistle or other attention getter (flares, flashlight)?

What about first aid? Small first aid kits don’t cover broken bones; what do you keep in your car that could help? Could you use a long ice scraper as a splint? Do you have something to secure it with? What will you do for using the toilet if you can’t move?

Staying warm and dry is a big deal, especially when injured. Craig had extra blankets, what do you have in your car?

5 thoughts on “Baby Steps: Build Your Emergency Car Kit”

  • sandy

    in an accident and especially off the road, TURN ON YOUR FLASHERS..do everything to be seen if you can..

  • Rocky

    Be aware of carbon monoxide if you use your car engine to stay warm? If your emergency gear is in the trunk and you can't reach it what are you gonna do?
    LED stobes will last a long time and send out the flashing lites. Worth the extra money. Make sure batteries are fresh at the start of winter. Change them out just like your smoke alarms, annually. For my emergency batteries I prefer the more expensive Lithium batteries, After all, what is your life worth, or your families?

  • Ann Rubin

    Use a multi pocket vest and put essential items in the pockets and hang over the seat back. I made a seat cover that can go over the top of the vest out of an old blanket. The seat cover can also be used to cover oneself for warmth. If the water is not frozen, keep under the blanket next to your body.

    • larry

      You can store water in your car but leave some space for freezing because water expands when it freezes. A flexible bladder-type container may work best.

  • Steve

    Wondering how to keep emergency water, stored in your car, from freezing.

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