A Vehicle Self-Rescue/Emergency Kit

(Bill Hatfield, Stir the Embers co-founder and facilitator)

The purpose of an emergency survival kit is to provide you with the basic supplies and tools you might need to survive in an emergency situation. Below is a general list of items for an emergency kit that can be kept in your car. The items listed can be used in a variety of emergencies or and geographic locations. Your kit should be customized to fit your specific situation and always kept in a sturdy bag with a strap or a backpack so that it can be carried or transferred to alternate vehicles easily.

When you assemble your emergency kit, take into account the areas you frequent most and the types of emergencies you might encounter. A kit for use in an urban area, for example, should always contain a prepaid phone card, whereas a kit for use in a rural area should include signaling devices such as a signal mirror and flare gun.

The list below does not take into account general vehicle emergencies. Every car should have road flares, simple tools, replacement fluids and a can of Fix-A-Flat® tire sealant. Vehicle emergencies are worthy of their own emergency kit.

Please keep in mind that the key to survival in any emergency is using your intellect and being highly flexible. The tools here can only help you. Ultimately, you must save yourself.

Most of the tools listed here can be found at Harbor Freight for a reasonable price. The clothing and the carrying bag can often be found at a thrift store, normally for around $10. For the food supplies, I suggest meats and pasta in “pouches” from the grocery store or MRE meals from the military surplus store. Full MREs are normally very bulky and expensive, so we recommend just purchasing the individual entrees.

Here are the items you should have in an emergency survival kit in your car, along with some suggested uses:

Food and Water
5 Servings of Soft-Pack (Pouched) Food
5 Bottles of Water
Fire Tools
Waterproof Matches
Fire Wicks
Magnesium Fire Starter

Survival -Self Rescue Tools
Water Filter Straw – Water is heavy, so there is no way to have enough water for five days and still have the kit be portable. A water filter straw will remove biological contaminants down to 2 microns as well as many chemical contaminants.

3 Flashlights – A Maglite®- and Mini Maglite®- style flashlight and a small headlamp-style flashlight.

Gloves – Protect your hands if you can.

Large Knife – This is useful for chopping small wood for fires. It is also a threat to predators of the two-legged variety and a very real weapon.

Folding Knife – Easier to carry and use in most situations. Transfer this to your pocket in an emergency so it is handy.

A Multi-tool (Gerber®, Leatherman®, etc.) – The brand of this item doesn’t matter as long as you don’t skimp on the quality. A cheap multi-tool is likely to be more of a hazard then a help as the handles can break.

Bolt Cutters (small) – These are useful for making a hole in a chain link fence or cutting a lock that prevents you from going where you need to go.

911 Shears/Heavy Duty Shears

Pliers – These can cut wire, handle red hot metal, bend bits of metal and even be used on nuts and bolts.

Duct Tape – 1001 uses for repairs and even medical emergencies. It can be used to bind a wound, repair shoes or tie poles together for a shelter. There is no telling what you may use it for.

Cable Saw – This can be used to cut large pieces of wood, including wooden fences, large firewood or even downed telephone poles.

Wrist Rocket® Slingshot and Marbles – This is capable of killing small game, but the real reason to include this in an emergency kit is as a deterrent. This device is capable of driving off an attacking dog and is powerful enough to damage a two-legged predator, making them choose an alternate target. While we would prefer you have a firearm for that type of incident, knowing that it is possible is important.

Small Pepper Spray – Another option to deter predators.

Sewing Kit – No personal emergency kit should be without a needle and thread. Anyone who has ripped the seat out of their pants or broken the zipper on their jacket in freezing weather will attest to this.

550 Cord – Sometimes called paracord, this is military parachute cord rated to 550 lbs. It is extremely useful for a variety of things. It can even be used to rappel.

Wire – Cord does not handle heat well. Wire does.

Siphon Pump -This pump can help you reach water that you can’t otherwise reach and can also siphon flammable liquids such as gasoline or diesel.

Epoxy Putty – A fire-resistant putty that you pinch off, knead until it is a uniform color, and use to fasten things together or attach things. Since the epoxy hardens in about five minutes, you can use it to attach a handle to a can to make a pot, stop a door from locking, or create a makeshift door lock. While the possibilities are not endless, they are pretty darn nifty.

Plastic Sheet – Useable as an emergency poncho or shelter, the real value of this item is in making a solar still. A solar still can be used to purify water or extract water from anything with moisture. To make a solar still dig a hole, place a container in the center, and suspend the plastic sheet loosely over it. Place a small rock in the center of the sheet to make the plastic dip towards the container. Line the hole with vegetable matter or even contaminated water. The heat of the sun will cause moisture to condense on the plastic sheet, which will dribble down and be collected in the container in the center of the hole. This water is potable.

2 Large Garbage Bags – These make great instant rain ponchos and can be used to waterproof items placed inside. Lining a pillowcase with a garbage bag turns it into a water carrier.

3 One Gallon Resealable Bags – Useful for everything above, but on a smaller scale.

4 Small Resealable Bags – Useful for everything above, but on an even smaller scale (e.g., waterproofing your wallet).

Rain Poncho – Inexpensive and quick to use, these are usually brightly colored and useful for signaling as well as staying dry.

Notepad and Permanent Marker – Allows you to leave a note, among other things. A note is a way to communicate with people that doesn’t require you to be present. (e.g., Need to leave your car? Leave a note for rescuers.)

Medication Box
Aspirin – As much for heart attack treatment as for pain management.
Ibuprofen – An anti-inflammatory.
Anti-Diarrhea Medication – An emergency is the worst time to have this sort of issue.
Antihistamine – For allergic reactions.
Charcoal Tablets – These are used to treat many types of poisoning, including alcohol poisoning and food poisoning.
B-12 Tablets – An energy supplement to help you keep going.

First Aid Kit
5 Feminine Pads (Kotex®, etc.) – There are useful to help treat bleeding wounds. A feminine pad combined with duct tape or any cloth bandage makes an excellent pressure dressing.
Hand Sanitizer
1 Pair of Rubber Gloves
1 Roll of 2” Gauze
5 Gauze Pads (3×3)
1 Package of Assorted Band-Aids®
1 Tube of Antibiotic Ointment (e.g., Neosporin®)
1 Roll of First Aid/Medical Tape

Clothing (sealed in a plastic bag)
Sweatshirt with Hood
Sweat Pants
Sturdy shoes
Emergency Cell Phone Charger
$50 Cash (Small Bills)

Now, it’s your turn. What items would you include in the emergency survival kit you keep in your car? Tell us in the comments below.

Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: