Building Your Car Disaster Kit

Being prepared for when live doesn’t go quite right is a critical part of being a safe driver and living a prepared life. This is definitely true here in Myrtle Beach were we are in crosshairs of hurricanes for several months throughout the year.  Many area residents know the importance of a good car disaster kit.  Not only will having a car disaster kit help when a storm is off the coast, it will also help the day-to-day little disasters that you face.

There are are already countless sources for good ideas for how to start and what to include in a disaster kit.  Ready.gov offers some great advice as to what to include in a car disaster kit, as well as what should be included in a general at home disaster kit.

In this article we are going to build a typical kit you might find from Ready.gov and then add in several items we at Turn Key Automotive feel should be in every car disaster kit.

Car Disaster Kit: The Container

One of the biggest drawbacks of having a car disaster kit is keeping it stored in your vehicle.  If it’s not convenient your kit will very likely end up in the garage where it won’t help anyone.   Choose a container that will fit into the unique little spots of your vehicle.  If necessary, spread it around as well.  For instance, something like a small portable air compressor, can be stored in your spare tire area.  We have found that the waterproof Sterilite gasket plastic tubs that you can find at Target are a great way to organize your kit.  Because they are clear you’ll easily see what’s inside and being waterproof means you don’t have to worry about spills.  If a tub is not what you need, consider any number of duffle bags or convenient back packs.

Car Disaster Kit: The Usual Contents

Ready.gov offers a great start for a car disaster kit.  These include the following items:

  • Water- a few bottles or a gallon jug.
  • Food – simple energy food that can withstand the wide temperature fluctuations of being left in your car.  The original Nature Valley hard granola bars are great for storage.
  • Hand crank radio with NOAA Weather Radio channels
  • Flashlight – include extra batteries as well. Important: Only use the highest quality lithium batteries.  Stay away form alkaline batteries that will leak.
  • First aid kit
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Dust mask
  • Baby wipes and/or moist towelettes
  • A few trash bags
  • Small tool kit
  • Local maps
  • Cell phone chargers – have connectors for both android and iOS
  • Jumper cables
  • Flares or reflective triangle
  • Ice scraper
  • Cat litter or sand for better tire traction

Car Disaster Kit: Great Additions

As you can see the above list from Ready.gov is a great start for a car disaster kit.  However our belief is that it is severely lacking and we recommend beefing up the kit to include the following.

  • Portable air compressor – A little compressor, like this one for less than $40 at Amazon, are a great way to help air up a flat and get to someplace safer to call for help or change a tire. Personally we would opt to upgrade to something like the Viair 300p or larger, but the convenience of a very small air compressor is nice.
  • Small gas can – Keep an empty one or two gallon can on hand
  • Jump starter pack – Sure you’ve got your jumper cables, but that only works if there’s someone willing to help you out.  Our ideal kit would include a jump starter battery pack as well.
  • Towels or blankets – They’re not just for emergencies, having a few in your car have countless uses from an impromptu visit to the beach to protecting your back seat during a move.
  • Tool kit – Having a few tools on hand is always a good thing.  However… know your limitations
  • Duct tape – There’s few problems in life a little duct tape won’t fix
  • Car escape kit – a seatbelt cutter and window punch should be part of any vehicle’s car disaster kit.  A great place to store this is actually at the bottom of your seat belt so it’s easily accessible when needed.
  • Sanitation – Keep a roll of paper towels and toilet paper in your kit.  Sometimes a good roll of TP is the only thing that will help in your personal little disaster!
  • Documentation – Keep a documentation packet in your kit with any information you may need.  This may be copies of utility bills or anything you see fit.  These can easily be encrypted as well or placed on a USB drive.
  • Tow straps and rope – Sometimes a simple tow strap or length of good quality rope can help get you back on the road.  Again, know your limitations.
  • Cash – In today’s day of ApplePay, Paypal, and credit cards more and more people are walking around with no physical money at all.  That’s a huge mistake, and one you don’t have to make.  Ensure you have a few $20s, $10s, $5s, and $1s hidden in your car. Sometimes the best way out of a problem is little cold hard cash.
  • AAA Membership – All the above are great and should absolutely be in your vehicle’s disaster kit.  However the best tool you will likely ever need is a membership to AAA.  A single call can get you a tow, gallon of gas, roadside repair and so much more.

Hurricanes, traffic jams, storms and more have happened in the past… and they will happen again.  Start putting your car disaster kit together today so when it does happen to you, you’ll have the tools you need to get home safely.

The most important thing you can do to prepare for disasters is make sure your vehicle is in good repair.  That’s where the team at Turn Key Automotive come in.  Be sure to stop by for your regular maintenance so you can rest easy knowing your vehicle will be ready to go when you are.  Schedule your next visit with us by calling (843) 293-6793 or request an appointment today!

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