Sunday, June 8, 2014

30 Things to Carry in Your Car for Summer Emergencies

Summer means more road trips and time in the car. We visit family, go to dog parks with Lacey, and outdoor events.  With all of that extra time in the car, we sometimes run into little emergencies (like my car accident last winter.) 

More often than not, it is usually something like giving someone else a jump with our jumper cables, or just requires a band aid to fix. Either way it doesn't hurt to be prepared.





Most of the items on this list live in our car full time because they are useful to carry in the car in summer and winter. You probably already have most of the items on the list. The 22 basic summer items don’t cost a ton of money. Most are things you can use year round.

22 Things to Carry in Your Car for Summer Emergencies

This is not a list supplies to get you through any type of doomsday scenario. This list is to help you prep for run of the mill accidents, emergency repairs, or falling into a creek when you are away from home.

I threw in a list of 11 extra items we like to keep in our trunk for impromptu summer fun. You never know when a warm breeze and a sunny day will call your name for an impromptu picnic!

Emergency Supplies to Keep in the Car:

1. Owner’s manual – It probably came with your car. It is best to keep it in the glove box just in case. If nothing else, it will give you scintillating reading material if you have to kill time waiting for a tow truck.

2. Cell phone & charger – A cell phone is helpful if you have or see an accident or need to call for roadside assistance in case of a breakdown. If you don’t want to deal with cell phone contracts and fees, pop a prepaid cell phone in your glove box or ask someone for their old cell phone and charger.


Even a deactivated cell phone like this one can make a 911 call if it can get a signal.

3. Pen and paper – Hopefully you will be using it to play tic tac toe to pass the time while you are waiting for roadside assistance instead of using them to exchange insurance information after an accident.

4. Umbrella and/or rain poncho – It is a nice thing to have in car when it expectantly rains, which happens a lot in Ohio. I keep a small folding umbrella under the seat in car to use to stay dry while rifling in the trunk for the ponchos (better to have at amusement parks IMHO.) I suggest going with a better quality rain poncho like the Totes Rain Poncho shown here  over the cheap and thin rain ponchos you can’t fold back up and put into the little baggie no matter what the instructions say and you end up tossing it after one use. If you don’t poke a hole in it first.

Fun fact: Tote ponchos are made in the USA!
Disclosure: This post has affiliate links for your convenience.


5. Roadside assistance membership - AAA, On Star, through your car brand etc. – I’m partial to AAA because I’ve had it ever since I got my driver’s license. Go with whatever company works best for you. Anytime I think about cancelling my membership because I haven’t used it in awhile, I end up needing it.

6. First aid kit – This can be as simple or elaborate as you like. If nothing else it is nice to at least have a few band aids in the glove box in case you accidentally cut yourself or get a blister from a pair of shoes. Make sure to take an Epi pen or any emergency medication you made need with you if you or your family has a related medical condition beyond the usual bump, cuts, and sprains.

I like the Adventure Medical Kits Adventure First Aid kit shown here because it is a good basic first aid kit that fits in a glove box. It is stocked for any basic injuries Husband may have on the running trail: sprains, fractures, cuts, scrapes, or what Lacey and I may experience when we are playing in the park.


Yep. I’m that crazy dog lady who makes sure our first aid kit has gauze and tape in case my dog cuts her paw, or worse, there is a scuffle at the dog park. I also have the number for the local 24 hour Vet Emergency Room in there too.


7. Swiss Army knife or Leatherman – I carry a Swiss Army knife in my purse in case I need it. Most of my emergencies involve needing it for the bottle opener and the corkscrew but the other features have come in handy too.



Husband and I bought our first Swiss like Army knives based on looks. Mine broke the second time I used the bottle opener. Don’t be me. Spend some money on quality like the Victorinox Swiss Army Knife shown here.


9. Paper map or atlas – Yes, I know. Why go with a paper map when we have cell phones apps and GPS? Because the batteries may run out or you might not be able to get a signal if you are stuck in the middle of no where. If nothing else, give it to the kids something to entertain themselves by tracking the trip and ending “are we there yet?” questions every 5 minutes.

Emergency Supplies to Keep in the Trunk of Your Car:

I came into our marriage with a cobbled together DIY version of a car emergency kit that still lives in the trunk of my car year round. When I realized Husband didn’t any any of these supplies in his car (especially since this is the car we usually use when we drive several hours to visit our parents) we bought a pre made kit for his car and made a few upgrades and additions to it over the years. Our car emergency kit is discontinued. The most similar one I can find is is the Bell Automotive Roadside Emergency Kit.



This kit includes jumper cables, tire sealant, a flashlight, cable ties, help sign, gloves, tie down, a space blanket, 2-in-1 screwdriver, rain poncho, an accident document guide, and some first aid supplies. Best of all it is compact and doesn't take up too much room in a small car like ours.


10. Spare tire or fix a flat (or both,) jack, and lug nut wrench – This probably came with your car. The moment you are tempted to make room in your car trunk for stuff during a shopping trip, is the trip a pothole  takes a chunk out of my tire in a parking lot. (Not that I know anything about this.)

Fix a Flat
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Fix A Flat Tire Inflator is my version of roadside tire insurance. 
This hero has come to my rescue many, many times!

11. Jumper cables – I can’t tell you how many times my jumper cables have  also made me a hero to someone in need. If you need to buy jumper cables (some call them booster cables) I suggest you buy the best quality you can afford given what they need to do and get longest you can find.

jumper cables


 I replaced the flimsy booster cables that came in our emergency kit with a heavy duty pair like the AAA Heavy Duty 16' 6 Gauge Booster Cable shown here and haven’t regretted it.


12. Road flares/reflectors -They are good to have on hand if you need to alert other drivers where your car is on the road while you are changing a tire (in an Elizabethan jester costume - really!) Waiting for a tow truck, etc.

 car emergency flares
Personally I like the reflectors because they don’t go bad or eventually run out like flares which is good because I never check the expiration dates. I wish my reflectors folded for storage like the Deflecto Early Warning Road Safety Triangle Kit.

13. Flashlight – In case you need to see in the dark! To keep the batteries from going dead before you need to use them (ahem,) store the batteries in reverse order or out of the flash light altogether. Better yet, put a crank flashlight in your emergency car kit. No batteries needed! I’m the Queen of Batteries I Forgot to Recharge or Replace Before I Need Them. *royal wave*



This isn’t the biggest, baddest, or heavy dutyist (yes that is a word. I just made it up) flashlight,  but I have a bunch of Energizer Weatheready 3-LED Carabineer Rechargeable Crank flash lights like this one stashed in the house and in our cars because they are cheap and useful. 


14. Spare car fluids (oil, brake, windshield wiper, coolant etc.) because sometimes topping off your car fluids can fix or prevent a roadside emergency.

15. Work gloves – If you need to change a tire or do a simple roadside repair it can get little messy and that will only happen when you are dressed up for a big meeting or nice event. You can go as cheap or expensive as you want with the work gloves.



Since we can never have too many work gloves, I bought a set of Cowhide Leather Palm Gloves from Amazon because they come in a five pair pack. We stashed two pairs in each car. The fifth pair is with the rest of the one handed “sets” of gardening gloves in the garage.


16. Grit for traction if you get stuck in mud. If you get stuck in a muddy field, placing kitty litter, sand,  a carpet remnant, etc. for traction under the wheels should do the trick. Personally, I carry a jug of cheap kitty litter in my trunk because the last time I tried using an old blanket to get traction in a muddy field parking lot it shot out from under my wheels like a cannon ball from a cannon. The kitty litter also adds weight to the truck to keep the car from fishtailing or hydroplaning on wet roads.

17. Tow strap – Just because I have a small car that can’t tow anyone out of the mud doesn't mean someone else can't tow me out of the muck if the kitty litter doesn’t work.



If a tow strap didn’t come in your emergency kit like mine did, try the Neiko 20' Ft Heavy Duty 10,000 Lb Tow Strap with Hook.

18. Tire-pressure gauge - Low air in your tires can contribute to hydroplaning on wet roads or slipping on ice. Even though I love high tech gadgets, I keep a plain, manual Pencil Style Tire Pressure Gauge like this one in my glove box. That way I don’t have to worry about the batteries dying when I need it most.


19. Duct tape – I added a small roll to our kit to patch a burst hose, etc. and get me back on the road until help arrives or allows me to drive to a repair shop.

11 Extras to Carry in Your Car for Summer Fun

I put these items from this list in a tote bag if the summer event warrants it . This list isn't a bunch of must haves in case of dire emergency. It is a list of things that make summer more comfortable and fun.

1. Windshield Sun Screen – This isn’t an emergency item but it will make your life a little more comfortable and your car a little cooler by blocking the sun’s rays and keeping them from heating up the car in a parking lot.
We have the Basix Magic Shade because it folds small when not in use and is so big it covers the entire windshield. These bad boys also keep the sun from cracking and splitting the dashboard of your car.

2. Blanket or old towel – I keep a blanket in the trunk year round. We use it for picnics and more often than not, to use when I forget my jacket on a cool evening. You can toss it over your head to keep dry(ish) if it is raining, and keep your car seats clean from wet or muddy kids and dogs too.



My car blanket is similar to the Picnic Time English Plaid Outdoor Blanket Tote shown here except mine didn't come with the super useful tote bag to keep it clean in my trunk. I wish mine did.

3. Extra jacket or sweatshirt, change of clothes, flip flops, socks, or shoes – If we are going to be around water, walking Lacey at the lake, etc. I try to remember to stuff extra clothes/shoes in a tote bag and pop it in the car because I am awesome at falling out of canoes.

4. Sunscreen, insect repellent, and lip balm with sunscreen - I want to keep these in the car in case we forget/need to reapply but I don't because they can melt/degrade in constant heat. The tubes can burst if they sit in a hot glove compartment too long (guess how I know?) I fill empty travel toiletry bottles from the big bottles we have at home and carry them in a little pouch in my purse.

5. Hand sanitizer – Because if I have to use a porta potty or public restroom it is always the one that is out of soap. I keep this in my purse too. I also have a bottle of hand sanitizer in a holder on Lacey’s leash in case we need to clean up after doggie duty. Ew.

6. Water and snacks (Energy bars, dried fruit, jerky, etc.) – We do this for long road trips more for the convenience of not stopping every time someone wants a snack than for an emergency situation. It could be helpful if you are getting hangry waiting on an empty stretch of highway for a tow truck. Been there. Done that. On Christmas Eve. Not fun.

We try to bring reusable water bottles filled with water If we know we are going to be out at festival, etc. again, more for convenience than end of the world drama. If I get woggy from the heat, I'd rather drink a gallon of ice cold water over a soda but that's just me. However dogs can get heat stroke and because we don't expect every place Lacey goes to have a complimentary dog water bowl we make sure we always have water with us for her.



Lacey has her own water bottle with a dog dish attached. Lacey's dog dish water bottle is discontinued but this Pet Water Bottle is close to hers. It has come in handy so many times! 

7. Bandannas – I tossed a couple of freebie bandannas in the car on a lark and didn’t realize how smart that was! I wear them to tie my hair back or when I sunburn the part in my hair (really and ouch!) Husband wears a wet one before, during, or after a run on a sweltering day. We used them in a pinch as napkins, place mats, and more things that I can count.

8. Reusable shopping bags, Collapsible nylon bag or small backpack. These live in my trunk year road so I don’t forget my bags when grocery shopping. They also come in handy at the library, farm market, roadside fruit stand, or street fair. If you ever have to leave your vehicle after an accident, etc. you can use one to take essential items with you.



I am crazy in love with my Chicobag Hobo Shopping Bag. A bunch of these durable, recycled content beauties barely take up room in my trunk because they fold up.

9. Ball, Frisbee, etc. – for whiny kid, people, or dog situations. Your ball crazed doggie will LOVE you forever if you always have an extra tennis ball with you at an empty dog park.

10. Matches or a lighter – to light your grill at a picnic or tail gate or a legal campfire at the beach.

11. Dog water dish and extra pick up bags –We are diligent about refilling the doggy bag holder on Lacey's leash.  I popped an extra dog bowl and roll of potty bags in the car just in case and I'm glad I did.

We can fill it the dish with water from our water bottles if need be. Sometimes Husband and I accidentally play I Thought You Refilled the Bag Holder  when we are away from home with Lacey. It also allows us to help out parent friends who may need one for a dirty diaper.


Our nylon folding dog dish leaked water. The collapsing Alfie Pet silicon water bowl doesn't.


What do you carry in your car in case of an emergency?


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