5 Essential Items to Keep In Your Car

Cell phone, insurance information, ice scraper, umbrella…all items you’ve probably already got in your car on any given day and all items that come in handy from time to time. But what else should you be keeping in your car? More than you’d think. While there are plenty of places to find a comprehensive list of items to keep in your car, this list will give you a good head start because it isn’t just about emergencies, it’s also about those day to day, unexpected happenings that are a hassle, but could be made less so with these items (that may also be necessary in an emergency).

Water and non-perishable food

Whether the worst happens and you’re stranded in the middle of nowhere at night or you’re just stuck on a long commute, having food and water onboard is invaluable. A case of bottled water or a couple gallons of water and some cups should do for the water. As for food, think protein bars, crackers, peanut butter, and trail mix. All of this stuff is easy to grab if you’ve just got low blood sugar and need a quick snack, plus it’ll provide necessary calories if stranded for an extended period of time.

First aid kit

Car stuck in the snow

This needs to include more than just bandages and antibacterial cream. It’s not just for dire emergencies, it’s for daily scrapes and bruises, too. One day my brother got hit in the face with a baseball – Dad was able to grab a cold pack from his kit, smash it on the dashboard so it was cold, and jog it back to my brother before anyone else really had a sense of what had just happened. In addition to the cold pack, include medications like pain relievers and antihistamines, gauze, an Ace wrap, burn cream, scissors, tweezers, hand sanitizer, rubber gloves, and any specialized items your family needs (like inhalers).


A heavy duty flashlight in an easy-to-reach location from the driver’s seat (perhaps the compartment on the driver’s side door) is a must. A flashlight will help you see at night and help you get a good look at what’s going on under the hood of your car. Just remember to also keep spare batteries in the car or choose a wind-up LED flashlight that doesn’t require batteries.


It’s sounds old-fashioned, and it is, but it is also endlessly useful. If you’re GPS malfunctions, a map is a lifesaver. Keep it in the glove box, make sure it’s recent, don’t panic if it takes you a minute to orient yourself on the map, and don’t be afraid to stop and ask for directions with map in tow.

Escape multi-tool

Okay – this one is all about that emergency situation. But it’s important. Escape tools like the LifeHammer can help you cut through seatbelts and punch out car windows. If you’re ever in a sinking car, a tool like this can save your life. Just make sure you take the time to familiarize yourself with how it works and keep it in an easy to reach spot. This isn’t a comprehensive list of items to keep in your car, but it’s a great place to start. (And when you work on your comprehensive list, don’t forget to put these five items at the top.)