Emergency kit

What’s in your emergency vehicle kit? Free Press editor David Rauzi carries a compact toolbox of essential wrenches and screwdrivers, spare hose, clamps, shop blanket and other items in the event of an issue.

Boy Scouts practice it. Dad preached on it.

Be prepared.

Since I’ve been driving, I’ve kept a general-purpose toolbox in my vehicle. Most of us do, and its contents probably match up with many of yours. My box holds a range of wrenches (crescent, Allen), Vise-Grips and screwdrivers (standard and Phillips). Next comes some extra lengths of rubber hose, a coil of nylon rope, rubber bungies, a jumper cable set, and a mini air compressor.

Hey, this has been my car junk drawer since I was first driving a 1970 Pontiac Catalina. Some of this collection were old tools handed down by my dad, and much has been the accumulation of decades of needing this and that.

Fuses? Yeah, got a box of spares. Special tool to take off a seat belt? Yep. Blow up a football? Got what you need. Hose clamps? Well, besides being just a pretty cool little mechanical device, they do wonders to attach a damaged wiper blade to get you through a storm-ridden stretch of desolate area. First aid kit? Well, I won’t trust the aspirin anymore, but I think the 1980s-era bandages will still do fine. What else? Well, I’ve got some electrical tape, zip ties, a spare gas cap, a set of gloves and an emergency poncho.

Sitting in the editor’s chair, I see the preparedness press releases come through for your emergency car kit content recommendations, but they inevitably drone on with the obvious items we can name off in our sleep. Some are not-so-subtle advertisements to push some new gadget or gimmick, the purpose for which is to separate you from your money, and they just take up space in your box.

So, what really works? What comes in handy? I put the word out on social media, and I received lots of great recommendations that inspired me and should give you ideas of how you can improve your vehicle preparedness kit.


“Zip-tie tire chains [ZipGripGo] if you are stuck in the snow or mud,” said Mike Tackett.

“I’ve been in situations where I’ve had an allergy to medicine from an accident, and it was the worst,” said Reyna Phillips. She carries information on her medical condition regarding her legs, as well as numbing medicine in the event of an accident; all this in her cars, her bike and purse. She also carries extra glasses for her husband, Pat. “The unusual stuff,” she continued, “a ‘don’t keep me alive’ note. Get me high, and let me pass if I’m critically injured.”

“I have a bag with a warm coat, fleece sleeping bag, gloves, ski pants, wool socks, hat and scarf,” said Tammy Drew. “Also, have a water filter kit, Kind Bars, and an overnight kit consisting of deodorant, teeth care and an extra pair of chonies. And reflective triangles. Can't forgot the cell phone cord, quick charge and flashlights in cab.”

“Hammer. Every year there are stories about people driving into (or their car being hit and pushed into) a canal,” said Colleen Kelly. “I keep a hammer under the front seat, and the kids know where it is in case of emergency.”

“Basic tool set with a knife, small roll of bailing wire, tape and a lighter,” said Bruce Patrick. “A plug-in spotlight, tow strap and first aid kit. In my trucks, I also always carried a small floor jack, gas can and quart of oil, power steering oil and transmission oil. Lastly, always have jumper cables, and at least know how to use them on your own vehicle.”

“A spray bottle with 50/50 solution of isopropyl alcohol and water, which may be used as a de-icer, sanitizer and an antiseptic,” said Michelle Petersen.

“A throw rope, life jacket, whitewater helmet, full EMT jump kit, oxygen tank and hoses, pry bars, Glock, flares, five gallons h20, wrench and ratchet set, toilet paper, blanket, toiletries kit, couple flashlights, NarCan, Epi, chains, small shovel, breakdown trout rod and tackle, fire starter, duct tape, zip ties, and so much more,” laughed Frederick Taylor. “Oh, and like five Mountain House meals, a Coleman stove, coffee, cookware, little green propane bottles and lots of shelf stable snacks. I like having a pickup.”


More go-to items included an entrenching tool (from Melissa Calhoun), “handy dandy paring knife (Avery Russel and Lorie Palmer), protein bars and a blanket (Janene Engle), bear spray (Denise Bacon), “duct tape, always!” (Kateri Patton), extra credit cards (Dave Borgeson), water, peanut butter, paper and pen, toilet paper (Mary Beth Meyers), and emergency blanket and emergency food, such as Sure-Pack or Alpine Foods (Lucky Gallego). Also, suggestions were for road flares (check out the new flashing LED types), a flashlight, garbage bags and hand/foot warmers (Pamela Finley).

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