Make a Car Bag for Emergency Preparedness

Make a Car Bag for Emergency Preparedness:

It’s been a while since we’ve talked about emergency preparedness. (Catch up on those posts right here.)

With all the bad weather across the country and especially the stories coming out of Atlanta, it’s time to make a car bag. This is different from a bug out bag, because those are stored in your house–which you can’t get to if something happens and you’re at work, for example.

Imagine a situation like this: you’re at work and there’s an unexpected disaster. Here in California it might be an earthquake. Maybe the main freeway is closed because of a gas leak. Or a water main break prevents you from driving on a major street by your house.

For whatever reason, the cell network is down too. You need to be able to walk to your house or a safe place and you can’t phone anyone for help.

Start with a sturdy, nondescript backpack. Check the back-to-school sales or thriftstores. Don’t get anything flashy, or it might be stolen out of your car!

Here’s what you want to put in your car bag:

Increase quantities if you work or travel far from civilization. Most people can walk 3 miles in an hour, but everyone’s going to need to rest, drink, and eat. Don’t expect to be able to walk for 10 hours straight!

As I was drafting this article, Papa said that he kept many of these items in his car when he was in high school and college. His first car was liable to break down at any time, and since there were no cell phones back then you had to be ready for anything.

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  1. says

    You have some great ideas I hadn’t thought of! (especially the PAPER map!) One additional thing I like to keep in my car is a couple of disposable plastic or vinyl ponchos. If your car breaks down in the rain or sleet, it can be a real blessing not to get soaked to the bone while you look under the hood or walk for help.

  2. says

    This is brilliant! I keep some of those things in my car, but I never thought to put them together (d’uh) and I haven’t had a paper map in ages. I would add a compass, too, and maybe a hat.

  3. Becki says

    Since we live in the Northeast, we always carry a small metal coffee can and lid with emergency candles and matches (or lighter) inside. It can help keep you warm or melt snow for drinking water if needed.

  4. Kathy says

    It would be a good idea to include some form of self defense, IMHO, that you can use Pepper spray, or a stun gun, or whatever you are comfortable with. Some say an air horn is more effective to scare people off, if you’re in an area with other people. Personal items to help clean up in case of an accident, or slipping in the mud, like small baby wipes, and purse kleenex, with hand sanitizer would help.

  5. Kathy says

    We just picked up a free map of our state at the local Dairy Queen for our state. It also gives locations of all DQs in the state for a bonus! LOL! GREAT paper map when we need one.

  6. Vivian says

    I agree with Becki about the canned candle. A good quality whistle is a good idea. Water purification tabs travel well. Another water option is a lifestraw imho you can never have too many water options. A camping cup and stand coupled with the candle would allow for a warm beverage. I’m not a prepper, but living on the West Coast, I am a strong believer in the 72 hour prep. Best option is to stay with your vehicle but if you cannot, be sure you have pen and paper and maybe a ziploc bag to contain your note saying which direction you are going.

  7. lisa says

    I have an emergency tote box in my car at all times. A change of clothes for each person, light jackets, snacks, water, socks, shoes, sunscreen, bug spray, first aid kit, plastic bags, a backpack and tote bag, paper towels. also a large blanket to be used for warmth, tablecloth, picnic blanket, etc. In the summer I also carry swimsuits and towels for the kids. In case we drive by a spray park and they want to get wet. Has come in handy more times than not!

  8. Audrey says

    I think you have the most important basics (off course having enough for maximum car capacity). Even though I’m in my car alone most of the time … if I have family with me I want to be sure I have emergency supplies for everyone. I would include regular blankets (making those easy tie fleece blankets and packing in a small storage bag would be great to have in addition to those thin mylar emergency blankets). The air horn and/or whistles mentioned above is great. TP and wipes will be needed! I have those solar crank flashlights. I don’t know if anyone mentioned packing an emergency NOAA radio … you can get them at all price points. With al the flooding recently having a window breaking tool could be a life saver (I have hung mine on a carbinger hung over the rear view winder with an elastic hair band. The tool I have has an emergency flasher and seat belt cutting tool on it. The other commenters also came up with great ideas. Thanks all.

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