How to Build a DIY Roadside Emergency Kit

Keeping a roadside emergency kit in your car is just plain smart — no matter where you’re going. Even if you typically just travel across town for work, you never know when nasty weather or an unforeseen emergency will leave you stranded on the roadway.

How to Build an Emergency Car Kit

It’s surprisingly easy to put together a DIY car emergency kit. Follow the checklist below for what you should pack, then make a car safety kit for every vehicle your family owns and do an inventory every six months to ensure the kit is up to date.

What to Put in Your Emergency Car Kit

First Aid Supplies

A first aid kit is the most essential item you can add to your DIY emergency car kit. It will come in handy for a scraped knee at the park or for a more serious injury. You can buy ready-packed kits or build your own based on your family’s needs. The American Red Cross offers guidelines for assembling first aid supplies for your car, including:

  • Small, medium and large sterile gauze dressings
  • Bandages
  • Safety pins
  • Disposable sterile gloves
  • Tweezers
  • Scissors
  • Alcohol-free cleansing wipes
  • Sticky tape
  • Thermometer
  • Skin rash cream
  • Cream or spray for insect bites and stings
  • Antiseptic cream
  • Painkillers such as aspirin or ibuprofen
  • Antihistamine cream
  • Eye wash and eye bath

Survival Supplies

In addition to a first aid kit, make sure you have everything you might need in case you get stranded. Also consider what your pets might need, too, if they frequently ride with you. Start with these items:

  • Potable water, at least 3 gallons
  • Nonperishable food and salty snacks like nuts, granola or trail mix
  • Cell phone charger
  • Road map
  • Flashlight and new batteries
  • Waterproof matches
  • Blanket
  • Emergency flares or glow sticks
  • Compass
  • Hand-held GPS unit
  • Roll of duct tap
  • Paper towels or rags
  • Pet food, if necessary

Vehicle Supplies

Your vehicle needs its own roadside emergency car kit, too, in case something goes wrong. Be prepared for a flat tire, dead battery or other unexpected repairs with these essentials:

  • Properly inflated spare tire
  • Wheel wrench
  • Tripod jack
  • Jumper cables
  • Multipurpose utility tool or tool kit with screwdriver, tire pressure gauge, wrench and vise grips
  • Towing strap or chain
  • Car battery charger
  • Air pump
  • No-spill gas can
  • Antifreeze (1 gallon)
  • Motor oil (2 quarts)

Winter Weather Supplies

The Weather Channel offers important tips on what to do if you are stranded in your vehicle during winter weather. (And don’t forget to winterize your car before the snow hits.) If you live or travel where blustery weather poses a threat, you’ll want to include these must-haves in your DIY winter car kit:

  • Ice scraper
  • Bag of sand for traction
  • Backpacking stove for heating soup, tea or water
  • Gloves
  • Boots
  • Wool socks
  • Knit caps
  • Layered clothing, like sweaters, scarves and long pants
  • Rain gear, such as umbrellas, raincoats and waterproof boots

Putting together a DIY emergency kit for your car ensures you’re prepared for any situation, but you’ll also want to be sure your auto insurance offers the right amount of protection to keep you safe. Contact your Farm Bureau insurance agent to schedule a SuperCheck® and to learn more about Emergency Roadside Assistance coverage.