Building an Auto Emergency Kit

Posted by: Dan on 26/10/2015

Category: Maintenance

Building an Auto Emergency Kit

A good auto emergency kit is an absolute essential to have in any car. If you have a car, but don’t have an auto emergency kit, this article should help bring you up-to-speed on what you need have, based on a variety of scenarios and emergencies that could arise on the road.

Your Emergency Kit Bag

Deciding what sort of bag you’ll use to store the essentials of your emergency kit is an important consideration. You want the bag to be strong and sizeable, yet not too big or hard to carry. While a standard backpack should allow you to carry most of what’s required for an emergency supply on the road, a gym bag is even better. This allows you to carry a wider range of goods, and enables you to store longer and bigger items than you’d otherwise be able to in a standard backpack.

Now, let’s look at what you need to have in your ‘go bag’...


Go to your supermarket and look for a 10 litre canister or flagon that you can fill with tap water, put in your trunk and forget about it. Whatever use may arise for it in the future, you’ll be glad to have it when it's needed. Whether it is diluting antifreeze, cleaning your windows - or even serving as drinking water if you have car trouble somewhere remote - water is versatile, and it’s the first essential you need have in your auto emergency kit.

A Camera

While your smartphone could serve this purpose in a pinch, having a second camera on hand gives you peace of mind (and likely allows for better photographs). It isn’t crucial what kind of camera you pick - a cheap point-and-shoot picked up for under $100 will do the job.

Making sure your emergency kit has one is, however, crucial. If an emergency arises, you’ll need to be able to document what has occurred or is occurring. Whether it’s a simple fender bender that requires photos for your insurance company or something more severe, keeping a camera on hand will ensure you’re able to make an accurate record - and that’s crucial in any emergency.

Auto Emergency Supplies

Once you have water and a sufficient way to document any emergencies you encounter, it’s time to add the emergency auto equipment you’ll need to address most any situation that arises on the road. To start, jumper cables. You battery goes flat and you need a start? A friend’s car and a pair of jumper cables will do the trick.

Next up, a tyre pressure gauge, alongside a temporary tyre-patch kit is necessary. Together these tools will help you keep your other tyres sufficiently pumped and functional, as well as fix the one that’s temporarily gone flat.

A spare tyre and jack also deserve a place in your kit, as they’ll get you back on the road should you find yourself unable to patch a tyre. While you’ll be unable to keep these comfortably in a standard backpack or gym bag, they nonetheless should form part of your emergency kit, and be constantly checked and maintained accordingly.

A Window Breaker

Finally, there are two other auto emergency supplies you should have in your car, but kept out of your emergency bag. The first is a window breaker. A emergency window breaker is a hammer-like tool that’s specifically designed to shatter a window in an emergency. Keep this in your glovebox, and only remove it when you’re taking your entire emergency kit out of your car (such as when going on holiday and intending to use a hire car).

A Seatbelt Cutter

This is another tool that’s important to have - though you’ll hope you never need use it. Regardless, following a car crash, people may need to exit the vehicle quickly - and this tool is especially useful if you have young children who may panic if they’re unable to free themselves easily. Besides being sold as a stand alone item, many retailers do sell a window breaker and seatbelt cutter combo tool for those who wish to buy two-for-one.

Medical Supplies

Though you don’t need to equip yourself like an ambulance, keeping a host of band aids, bandages, antibacterial cream, headache tablets and other general supplies is invaluable. While it is important to consider the storage and safety of these items - so avoid having any glass bottles or goods that have a quick expiry date - ensuring these are on hand will help you attend to a range of common medical need that could arise in an emergency.

Your Identification

Furthermore, keep relevant identification on you. Your driver's license, insurance information, and an emergency contact card with your relevant medical (blood type, known allergies, etc) and religious affiliation (as applicable) are all essential pieces of paperwork you’ll want to have on hand to help facilitate any emergencies that arise.

As well as what you keep in your kit, it’s also important to consider where you keep it. It's understandable that, if you’re on a family trip cross-country, you’ll have little desire to keep a big duffel back in your backseat. Yet, if you regularly use the car by yourself or with just one or two passengers? It’s best to keep the emergency kit either in your front passenger seat leg space, or behind it. Avoid putting the emergency kit behind your own driver seat, as this will make it hard to reach in a crisis.

Finally‚ a note on maintenance... There is no getting around it - going through your pack and checking that your batteries are current and that your first aid kit’s equipment is all up-to-date is hardly the funnest way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Yet‚ it needs to be done. This is the most important thing to remember as you compile your emergency kit: it must remain fully equipped and functional. If batteries are flat‚ medicine is expired - or you never replaced that sweater you took out for use hiking one time - you’ll be kicking yourself when you need it.

What else do you keep in your auto emergency kit? If you’ve got another suggestion to share, leave it in a comment below:

Image: Flickr