How to Upgrade a Generic Car Emergency Kit

I’ve been meaning to clean my car out for almost a month now. We had good weather, then bad weather, rain, snow. It was nice out today and I didn’t work so I figured today was the day to do it. I made my husband clean his car out too even though he complained the whole time. His car was full of so many receipts, just receipts everywhere. He also had some of my reusable shopping bags that I thought I lost when we moved. 

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We mainly just pulled all the trash out (a whole garbage bag full between our two cars) and I washed the dash and all of the windows for each car. So dusty from running the heater all winter. 

How to upgrade a generic car emergency kit to fit your needs

The changing of the seasons is the perfect time to make sure that your emergency kit is ready for whatever life throws at you. That means Spring (when you finally feel comfortable putting the window scraper into your trunk and taking the snow shovel out of your trunk and putting it away) and Fall (when you put the snow shovel back in your truck and make sure you are stocked up on hot hands hand warmers).

Choosing an Emergency Kit

I recommend buying a basic emergency kit to start with. I just think it’s easier to build from pre-existing pieces. Then if that’s all you want to do you are covered in case of an emergency. 

If you put nothing else in your trunk get some jumper cables. It sucks to have a dead battery and have someone actually offer to help only to find neither of you own jumper cables. 

I bought the JustIn Case Kit from Walmart. It’s small, easy to carry, and actually has a ton of extra space inside for me to add a bunch of other stuff.

I was drawn to this one because it was cheap and had jumper cables, a flashlight, a towrope, and a basic first aid kit (among other things).

Of course you can always make your own Emergency Kit using the items I describe here and place them in a bag or storage tote of your choice. 

Look at what your kit of choice contains. You want to make sure the elements actually fit your needs. 

Choosing the Right Emergency Kit for Your Needs

This one comes with

  • 1 Carrying Case
  • 1 Booster Cable (8 Foot)
  • 1 Tow Strap
  • Flashlight
  • 1 red Flashlight Cone
  • 2 D Cell Batteries 
  • 1 Emergency Poncho
  • 1 Pair Knit Gloves
  • 1 SOS Banner
  • 1 Roadside Assistance Card
  • First Aid Kit
    • 20 Bandaids
    • 15 Small Bandaids
    • 10 Cottonballs
    • First Aid Instruction Card
    • Roll of Adhesive tape
    • 4 Gauze Pads
    • 2 Moist Towelettes

Add to the First Aid Kit

The first thing you’re going to want to do is add some extras to your first aid kit. Other than the jumper cables this is the part you’re most likely going to need to use. I keep all of my first aid items in a plastic ziploc bag. This keeps them all together and keeps them dry. 

  • Painkillers – Acetaminophen (I carry Ibuprofen in my purse)
  • Kleenex
  • Tweezers
  • Nail Clippers

Not Pictured:

  • Triple Antibiotic Cream
  • Hydrocortisone cream (Anti-Itch)

How to upgrade a premade emergency kit

Extra Tools

The next thing I added to my kit was a few extra tools. You never know when you’ll need to secure something, cut something, or pry something open.

  • Duct Tape
  • Screwdriver
  • Pliers
  • Box cutter
  • Cable Ties

How to upgrade a premade emergency kit

Stay Warm and Dry

Regardless of where you live there is likely to be cold and rainy weather. Also I’m a bit of a pyromaniac so matches and a firestarter are a must. I have several lighters in the glove box of my car. 

How to upgrade a premade emergency kit


It’s always good to just have some extra stuff. Maybe you’ll need it, maybe you won’t. My mother always told me to travel with a deck of cards. If you need to pass the time then a deck of cards is perfect, there are so many different games you can play either by yourself or with others. Also, in reading the description of the contents of this bag for this post I realized that the orange cone is actually designed to fit on the flashlight to create a lit up cone. I thought it was just so you could use it as a megaphone or something. 

  • Large Garbage Bags (great for wet or dirty clothes)
  • Ziploc bags
  • Playing Cards
  • Small notebook
  • Pencils
  • Giant Sharpie 
  • Quarters
  • Around $20 in small bills AKA “Yard Sale Money” But really, there are all sorts of situations where you may need cash. Small bills are a must because the other person may not be able make change. (This is actually all the cash I had in my wallet for the sake of the picture, I just never carry cash, which is exactly the reason I need cash in my emergency bag.)

Not Pictured:

  • Local Map (I have an atlas as well as a State and County map in my car)
  • Snacks (My old snacks were about to expire so I had to eat them)
  • Blanket
  • Extra Clothes

How to upgrade a premade emergency kit

Additional Items for Summer

Summer time has it’s own special car requirements separate from the other seasons. Here are some things you should consider adding. 

  • Bug Spray
  • Sunblock
  • Beach Towel (great for cleaning up spills or drying off from rain)
  • Umbrella
  • Gallon of water (or a refillable water jug) Warm water is better than no water. Just keep it out of direct sunlight, so the trunk is great. 

Do you have any suggestions for other items to add?

Let me know in the comments.

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