If you have yet to be in the stressful situation of a car breakdown or a major vehicular accident, you can count yourself among the lucky. Those of us who have been through this quickly learned that a few essential items could have gotten us back on our way or made us more likely to survive while waiting for help.

There’s nothing like experience to teach you the absolute necessity of having these things in your car survival kit. Specialize your kit from the different groups below, which may or may not apply to your situation.

Car breakdown items are the first essentials you need in your kit. While preppers tend not to focus on this element of car survival, it is probably the most likely scenario you can prepare for. Here are the essentials:

  • Basic toolkit – screwdrivers, wrench, vise grips, and hammer at minimum.
  • Spare tire – check periodically to make sure it’s not flat.
  • Car jack
  • Jumper cables
  • Tire pressure gauge
  • No-spill gas can
  • Roadside flares
  • Towing strap
  • Oil for an oil change
  • Washer fluid
  • Duct tape
  • Car battery charger
  • Card with the number of a towing company on it
  • Cell phone charger – always keep a separate charger in the car.

Next, you’ll need to add in major accident items. Hopefully, help will be close enough that you won’t have to use any of these, but you never know.

  • Fire extinguisher
  • Blankets
  • Car escape tool –  these tools are designed to cut seatbelts and break vehicle windows. Keep one in the glove box for you and one in the trunk so bystanders can use it if you’re pinned down.
  • First aid kit – go for more than the basic kit here. Make sure you have a tourniquet, even something like a belt or cloth set aside for the purpose. Another useful item is a neck brace or a cervical collar, which immobilizes the head to prevent further damage from blows to the head and neck and to prevent further damage in the case of whiplash.

Third on the list are items for cold weather. If snow is a possibility in your area, it’s best to have them in the vehicle at all times. Accidents are more likely to happen during unexpected weather, and you’re less likely to have the kit with you then too.

  • Ice scraper
  • Shovel
  • Anti-freeze
  • Sand and/or salt – this can give your tires traction on slippery surfaces when you’re stuck.
  • Extra clothing – all wool is preferable because it stands up better to cold and water.
  • Emergency heat blanket
  • Fire starters
  • Lighter
  • Water proof matches

The next batch of items are if you live in a rural area or if you’ve gone on a trip. These will be useful to you when help is a long way off.

  • Toilet paper
  • Soap and water
  • Disinfectant
  • Handheld GPS
  • Paper maps
  • Compass
  • Sleeping bags
  • Filling food – granola bars, energy bars, or even MREs
  • Gallons of water –  store in smaller containers if there’s a chance you’ll be in cold weather.
  • Extra shoes – in case you have to walk for help

Lastly, there are some items you should have in the car in case you get stranded or into an accident at night.

  • Flashlight
  • Extra batteries
  • Backup road flares

Keep these items ready to go and you will never be caught short handed when the SHTF!

Image courtesy of Thomas Quack / Shutterstock