One of my worst case scenarios that is most likely to happen is being stranded in my vehicle. Whether it’s for a few hours, days, weeks, etc., having several essential items will make it much more bearable and survivable for you and your passengers. Having some of these items can even allow you to “self-rescue” and get your vehicle going again and continue to your destination as planned; however, if multiple factors come together (a mass evacuation from an incoming hurricane causes a traffic jam you can’t get out of, a blizzard closes off all roads for several days as you’re en route to visit family, etc.), you could end up fighting for your survival on the side of the road.
If your vehicle breaks down and you don’t know exactly where you’re going and are not confident in your abilities to get there safely on foot, it is almost always better to stay with your vehicle and any other people in it. A vehicle is much easier to be located by rescuers (consider the size, windows, mirrors, exhaust, lights, horn, etc.) than a single person on foot. If you don’t want to be found, then that is a completely different problem you have on your hands. A vehicle will also provide you shelter from the elements as well as wild animals. Making the choice to leave the safety and peace of mind that a vehicle brings is a hard one and can only be made on a case by case basis.
Many of the items I am going to list can be incorporated into your BOB or EDC (Every Day Carry) bag, but they should always be in your vehicle if nothing else – you never know if you’re going to need them on your way to/from home, work, school, etc. It wouldn’t hurt to have duplicate survival items either – one in your vehicle kit and one in your BOB. Personally, I only have my BOB in my vehicle if I’m making a trip where I’ll be driving 20 minutes or more or have my family with me; however, the items that I always have in my vehicle would help me get home to grab my BOB if I needed to.
There are also several great pre-made vehicle kits including this one (to the right). Most kits include the same basic items – flashlight with batteries, tow rope, warning triangle, gloves, poncho, duct tape, pliers, a first aid kit, and a screw driver. One item that this newer kit has that mine didn’t is a power inverter. I am not sure of the model or quality of the one included in the kit, but the one linked is the one that I have in my picture (it also comes with attachable wires that you can clip directly onto a battery instead of plugging it into the car charger port!).
Another item my kit didn’t come with (and I still need to acquire) is a mini air compressor. If all of you are as observant as I think you are, you’ll notice that the individual items I linked combined are more expensive than the kit that includes a version of all of those items – i.e. it seems more economical to just buy the kit, but if you already have some of those items you can just buy the ones you need individually.
Also, you’ll see in my picture that I have an additional first aid kit, chem lights, MREs (read my article on MRE’s here), WD-40, a few extra tools, batteries, and duct/electrical tape. Not pictured but in my vehicle are a case of water bottles, a fire extinguisher, a fuel can, a siphon for emergency siphoning of fuel out of abandoned vehicles’ tanks, and a seatbelt cutter/window breaker. Something else I’m looking into getting is a winch. I would prefer a manual winch because that will just be one less thing I have to worry about supplying power too in an emergency.
Whether you buy a pre-made kit or improvise one for you or someone else you care about, you and everyone you know should have some sort of emergency supplies in their vehicle at all times because you never know when disaster will strike.
What other items do you have in your vehicle emergency kit?
Stay prepared – stay alive!