skip to Main Content

Roadside Emergency Supplies For Your Car


*We may earn a commission for purchases made using our links.  Please see our disclaimer to learn more.

Whether commuting or driving long distance, travel by road comes with the possibility of an emergency, breakdown situation. If you have roadside assistance and a cell phone signal, you can of course call for help, though even then help might be a long time in arriving.

However, there could come a time when you are broken down beyond the reach of help in a remote place and want to have a well-stocked emergency roadside kit in the trunk of your car that will quickly get you back on the road or, if this is not possible, at least to keep you comfortable until help arrives with supplies of food, water and a blanket.

Below are some of the car essentials recommended by the National Safety Council, and the American Red Cross. When you are putting together your emergency kit, you want to take into account the age and condition of your vehicle and the weather you are likely to experience, for example, if you live in an area with no snow you can skip some of these items.

Roadside Emergency Kit For Car – General

Once you assemble your supplies, you will want to store them in a sturdy container, like a large vacuum-seal bag, durable canvas bag or a plastic storage bin.  The contents of your emergency kit will depend in part on your ability to carry out simple repairs yourself. (If you do not have much technical experience maybe you should get someone to help you to learn how to use some of this equipment.) Even if you are not going to carry out running repairs yourself many of these items could be useful to someone who stops to help you.

Tools For A Roadside Emergency

Multipurpose Utility Tool or good quality pocket knife (On the high end of the spectrum you have multipurpose tools like the Leatherman Wave and on the budget end you have the Victorinox Classic Swiss Army Pocket Knife.  All multipurpose tools are made for with one purpose; to help you survive)
Tool kit with screwdrivers, pliers, adjustable wrench, vise grip, in addition to a car escape tool including a seatbelt cutter and window breaker and a collection of temporary fix-it materials – duct tape, string, cable ties, and flexible wire.

10 Emergency Motoring Situations Where It Is Good To Have the Right Equipment To Get You Home (and some ideas for this equipment)

1. Flat Tire

  • Spare tire and wheel wrench
  • Jack plus a stout bit of plank to give the jack a stable base on uneven ground
  • Battery operated or cigarette lighter powered tire pump for inflating a tire. Tire pressure gauge
  • Canister of tire inflator and sealant such as Fix-a-Flat.

2. Flat Battery & Electrical Issues

  • Jumper or booster cables (12-20’ of the right gauge for your vehicle, well-insulated, at least 10 feet long. Look for jumper cables that fit top and side post batteries with fully shielded clamps. If possible get a set that comes with safety gloves and heavy-duty professional clamps.)
  • Or a small, portable, lithium-ion battery with jumper cables. Usually, these batteries will also recharge computers and cell phones so look for devices with multiple USB ports for simultaneous charging of more than one device. If you go the battery route, though, make sure to keep it charged.
  • Assorted spare fuses – to replace popped fuses controlling dashboard lights, etc.

3. Electrical Fire OR Fire As A Result Of A Collision

  • Fire Extinguisher – needs to be rated for Class A, B and C fires by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). It needs to be fitted securely in an easily accessible bracket (not locked in your trunk).

NOTE: quotes the following statistics
“On the national level, according to the United States Fire Administration (USFA):
Nearly 1 out of 7 fires involves vehicles
1 out of 10.5 fire deaths results from vehicle fires
An estimated 300 civilians are killed and 1,250 are injured each year from vehicle fires
4% of fire-related firefighter injuries each year result from vehicle fires”

>>Check prices on Amazon

4. Radiator / Water Issues

  • Container of water, at least a gallon
  • Coolant, a gallon

5. Oil Issues

  • Motor oil, a quart or more

6. Stuck In Mud

  • Heavy duty rubber mats (to aid tire traction)
  • Sand or kitty litter (to aid tire traction)
  • Small, folding shovel (to dig away mud prior to inserting traction aids)

7. Need Towing (maybe because you are stuck in mud!)

  • Tow Rope or Strap (30 foot or longer, heavy duty, – preferably rated at a 10,000 lb break strength capacity, rated for a vehicle weight greater than 5,000 lbs, with 4.5 ton forged safety hooks)

8. Out of Fuel / Gas

  • No-spill can of gas (2-5 gallons)

9. Roadside Breakdown In The Dark

  • Flashlight, Lantern or Headlamp with extra batteries or hand-cranked (lantern provides 360 degrees of illumination, headlamp gives you directional light without the disadvantage of being one-handed)
  • Reflective Triangles – to be placed before the accident/incident, on the side of the road where other drivers can easily see it to communicate that there is an emergency up ahead.
  • Flares LED flares are also an option worth considering OR roadside flares (including possibly reusable LED flares) or glow sticks set out to alert other drivers
  • Reflective vest, so that other drivers can easily see you moving about your stranded vehicle

10. Visibility Issues

  • Windscreen scraper – for scraping off ice, mud or other impediments to vision
  • Spray bottle with washer fluid

If your efforts to fix your car yourself are unsuccessful it might be that you are going to have to wait in your car for some time before help arrives, in which case here are:

8 Types Of Emergency Equipment You Need To Carry In Your Car For Yourself

Communication & Way-Finding

  • Cell phone charger (left in car at all times)
  • Crucial phone numbers(Emergency and family) – listed in case your cell-phone is not working
  • Battery-powered and/or hand crank radio
  • Pen and paper
  • GPS, or Local maps – to find your way out or explain to rescuers where you are
  • Compass

First-Aid Kit & Manual For Emergency Situations

Drinking Water – (bottled, sealed, 2 to 3 gallons) – A Must For Every Emergency Kit

Food – Non-perishable:

  • Protein/Granola/energy bars,
  • Dried fruit
  • Peanut butter
  • Dehydrated meals

Sanitation Items & Toiletries

  • Hand sanitizer/soap
  • Towelettes, disinfecting wipes,
  • Four-pack of toilet paper
  • Zipper bags in various sizes to hold trash and wet items
  • Feminine products (if relevant)
  • Mosquito repellent
  • Sunblock

Clothes / Weather Protection For Emergency Situations

  • Spare set of clothes
  • Rain coat/poncho, umbrella,
  • Winter/summer head-gear
  • Extra gloves, boots, wool socks, stocking cap (for colder climates)

Blanket Or Space Blanket And/Or Ground Sheet

Fire Making / Water Heating Equipment


Before you are actually in an emergency situation, take some time to take out the equipment you have collected and make sure you know how to use it.  Also, it is important to check and refresh your supplies a couple of times a year.

Kate P

I have always had an urge to “be ready’ for emergency situations. To my delight, I discovered the term “prepping” and that there is a community out there willing to learn and share information on a subject close to my heart. I also discovered how entwined self-sufficiency and homesteading are with prepping!

Back To Top
×Close search