Assembling an Emergency First Aid Kit for Your Vehicle

by Lori Straus

A first aid kit for your vehicle will come in handy for a wide variety of situations, from a simple scrape on your kid’s knee if they fall climbing out of the car to a major accident on a remote road. In this blog post, we’ve collected information From The Red Cross, St. John’s Ambulance, and the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety to give you an overview of what belongs in a car emergency kit.

The Basics: Essentials to Help With Injuries

A first aid kit for your car is more than just a few Q-Tips, bandages, and packets of clean wipes. You want to prepare for a range of injuries. This list includes a few items that the Red Cross suggests you include in a first aid kit and that you may not have thought of:

  • your medications
  • emergency phone numbers
  • aspirin in packets
  • a breathing barrier with a one-way valve
  • a non-mercury /non-glass oral thermometer
  • tweezers
  • triangular bandages
  • emergency first aid guide

Visit the Red Cross’s website for the full list.

Survival kit on a wooden table

Other Emergency Essentials for Your Car

Alongside a first aid kit, St. John’s Ambulance recommends an additional list of items that can help you in a range of emergency situations. If you drive almost exclusively in the city, chances are you won’t need some of these items. However, be sure to add them if you take any long trips, especially into more rural areas, or go on a family road trip:

  • bottled water to last you 3 days
  • 72-hour supply of non-perishable snacks
  • portable radio with extra batteries
  • OK and HELP signs
  • quarters for a payphone (yes, they still exist)
  • a whistle
  • flashlight and extra batteries
  • candles and matches
  • fire extinguisher
  • navigation tools, e.g., compass, road map

In the winter, add an ice scraper and brush, and sand, cat litter, or salt.

Like the previous list, this one includes items that may not jump to mind right away when preparing an emergency kit. St. John’s Ambulance’s list, however, includes many more you may wish to pack, depending on your destination. Refer to it before you leave.

Do You Need a Fire Extinguisher for Your Car?

A fire extinguisher for your vehicle may seem like overkill, maybe because we hear about fires in homes more often than in vehicles. However, a fire in your vehicle can get out of hand long before emergency crews arrive. If you do buy one, ensure that it has the proper certifications and is stored properly in your vehicle at all times. Extinguishers for vehicles should be certified for Class B and C fires. They also require maintenance. Inquire about the appropriate schedule when you purchase yours.

Keep Safety Top of Mind

We often drive within city limits to get to and from work, to and from school, and to and from extracurricular activities. With these drives often lasting only 10 or 20 minutes, we often assume “it won’t happen to me.” However, an emergency kit for your car isn’t just about helping you; it’s also about helping others who are in trouble. Add a first aid course to your arsenal and you’ll feel more secure knowing that if an emergency happens, you’ll know what to do.