17 Things to Keep in Your Car in Case of an Emergency

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woman looking in first aid kit in her car


Spend enough time behind the wheel and you’ll likely have a roadside emergency at some point. Whether you get a flat tire or bad road conditions force you to pull over for a few minutes or a few hours, it’s important to be prepared for anything you might encounter. 

Let’s explore what to keep in your car just in case you have an emergency situation while on the road. 

Phone Charger

You likely have a phone on you at all times, but it’s not much use when the battery dies?

It’s a good idea to have your typical car phone charger handy, but that’s not enough because if your vehicle won’t turn on then your car can’t charge. Consider investing in a portable rechargeable power bank for your phone. 

A portable power bank can keep your phone charged long enough to call for help, contact your roadside assistance company, order an Uber or anything else you need during that time. 

First Aid Kit

A first aid kit can help in a wide range of situations. It’s smart to have the supplies available, just in case. 

Here’s what to include in your first aid kit: 

  • Bandages
  • Antibiotic cream
  • anti-itch cream
  • hand sanitizer
  • pain reliever
  • allergy medication
  • Eyewash
  • lip balm
  • Tweezers
  • Prescription medications you may need

It’s easy to find a pre-assembled first aid kit at the grocery store. But you might already have some of these items in your medicine cabinet – so consider creating your own as well. 

Water Bottles

If you are stuck on the side of the road, the last thing you need is to become dehydrated. But that’s not the only reason you want to keep water in your car. 

Having water handy can also help you with mechanical issues. For example, if your radiator overheats, you can pour some water in to help cool it down. You may also use water if you need to take a pain reliever or other medication. 


A roadside emergency is bad enough during daylight hours. But when the sun sets it can be a bit more challenging – and dangerous. 

A reliable flashlight will come in handy. Don’t forget to throw in an extra set of batteries in case yours goes out. 


The weather can be unpredictable. If it’s cool or cold outside, you’ll be glad you have a blanket on stand-by. 

Not sure you want a blanket taking up space in your car? Consider a beach towel or a blanket designed specifically for your car. 

A Change Of Clothes

Keeping a change of clothes in your car can be smart whether or not you run into a roadside emergency. Life can be unpredictable. So, you never know when a backup set of clothes will come in handy. 

Also consider keeping an extra set of shoes in your vehicle too. 

Insurance Card

Many insurance companies offer roadside assistance as an add-on to their auto insurance policies. And in some cases, a roadside assistance perk is added to your policy for free. 

If your insurance policy includes roadside assistance, don’t forget to carry your insurance card. It will come in handy when you need help so you know who to call. 

Want to switch to a car insurance policy that offers this feature? Consider using Compare.com to check out your options. We can help you find the best rate in just a few minutes. 

Tool Kit

Even if your experience in handling tools is minimal, a basic tool kit is worth putting in your vehicle.

A tire gauge, pliers, duct tape, WD-40, and a pocket knife are a few things to include. But you may decide to add additional items based on your location and experience. For example, you can add an ice scraper if you live in a cold area. Or a collapsible shovel if you frequently drive on unpaved roads or deal with snow regularly. 

Also, keep a gas can with you in case you have to make it to the gas station in order to get your car back on the road.  

Spare Tire

A flat tire is one of the most common roadside issues, so keeping a spare tire is a necessity. The good news is that most manufacturers design a perfect place to keep it – usually in your trunk. 

In addition to a spare tire, it’s a good idea to carry a tire patch kit as well. The patch kit will come in handy with small air leaks that don’t necessarily warrant an entirely new tire. 


You can’t change a spare tire without a jack. Hopefully, there’s already a jack in your vehicle. In many cases, you’ll find it near the spare tire. But if not, make sure to invest in this important tool. 

Portable Air Compressor

If your tire is low on air, then a portable air compressor can save you a trip to the gas station. Or if you are far away from the nearest station, you can fill up your tires without calling for help. 

You can get a small air compressor for under $30. In most cases it’s definitely worth the investment. 

Roadside Assistance Card

Not all insurance policies come with a roadside assistance policy. But that doesn’t mean you have to forgo this helpful service. You can find various roadside assistance subscription plans that will come to the rescue if you have car trouble. 

One popular roadside assistance plan is AAA. When relying on a roadside assistance program, you’ll need to carry the issued card which will have the phone number to call for help. 

Emergency Flares

Vehicles always seem to break down in the worst possible spot. How many times have you seen someone broken down in the middle of traffic or right next to a busy highway of speeding motorists? 

If you break down in a bad spot, emergency flares can help make you more noticeable and the more people who see you, the safer you are.

Jumper Cables

When a vehicle’s battery dies, jumper cables can help you get back on the road quickly. You can use traditional jumper cables that require another vehicle or also invest in a portable battery charger that you can get for as little as $25. 

Whichever way you go, take some time to learn how to use them and know where your battery is in your vehicle. It’s no use having these helpful tools if you can’t use them when you need to. 


Different types of gloves are useful in different situations. 

You should carry a pair of disposable latex gloves in your emergency kit. These are helpful if you need to administer first aid or touch something messy.

But a set of more heavy-duty gloves are helpful if you have to do some work to get your vehicle rolling again. For example, changing a tire or poking around the engine is safer when you have protective gloves on. If you have some old gardening gloves, that will do the trick as well.

Paper Towels

Working on your car can get messy sometimes. Even if you are just dealing with a flat tire, your hands will likely get dirty. It’s a good idea to have paper towels on hand to help with the mess. Also, the bottled water can make for a quick portable sink while you’re cleaning up.


Unfortunately, car trouble can strike at any time and so can hunger.

If possible, pack some snacks into your glove compartment. With that, you’ll at least be able to keep your stomach happy while dealing with this roadside emergency situation. A few potential snacks include granola bars, nuts, beef jerky, and crackers. 

Stay Prepared With The Right Car Insurance

Roadside emergencies can be a hassle. But with a car insurance policy that offers roadside assistance plans, you can expect a smoother experience. 

Want to find the right coverage that includes a roadside assistance plan? Explore your options and find the best rate today.

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