There are endless amounts of gear and trinkets you can pack away into your 1996 Honda Accord Hatchback but let’s face it, looking like a bag lady with an engine is not what the goal is. So while it’s tempting to assemble every piece of gear you can and prepare for armageddon to rival the Mormon Church this is not going to be an effective way to utilize your time, space and money. The goal is to assemble a kit PLUS some items which may help you in an emergency situation.
So what are the potential items you might throw in your car that you might not put directly in your 72 Hour Bag? The first thing on my list is a pair of boots with a fresh pair of socks tucked inside. I am not the kind of guy who goes out to the store or work wearing flip flops but ultimately I recognize that I’m not always wearing the best pair of shoes if disaster strikes. My wife keeps a pair of running shoes in her trunk. You can bet dollars to donuts that if a seismic event happens there is going to be lots of glass and nasty sharp objects strewn about and open toe evening strappy shoes that look great with that Little Black Dress aren’t going to do you much good while humping back to your home.
A case of bottled water. Yes, it’s bad to keep bottled water in heat and over time the plastic will degrade. Simple solution: rotate it often. When you’re stuck on the side of the road the ability to hydrate far outweighs any environmental or long term health concern. Drink the freakin water.
Road Flares, not only are they used to signal other motorists when your car is broken down on the side of the road, but if disaster strikes you can take them with you and you’ll be guaranteed to be able to start a fire. Heck, these things will even burn under water… Don’t you remember that scene in Water World?
Duct Tape is a good addition to any emergency kit. I always try to figure out where I can roll some tape onto, like my pen or walking stick. I try to stash a good 5-10′ of tape in my 72 Hour Bag, but the ability to have an ENTIRE ROLL in your car can be worth it’s weight in gold if you need it. A whole roll of Duct Tape weighs way too much to carry, but if you need to repair something on your car and then can drive home? You’ll be writing a testimonial to the company that makes Duct Tape.
A better Jacket. I have a down jacket loosely packed into a large stuff sack in the trunk. It’s important to never over stuff anything made from down, in time it will damage the ability of the down to loft and the amount of loft correlates to how warm you’ll be by trapping more warm air with the greater loft. Having said this, if it’s go time I’d take that jacket and cram it in my bag and go. The 72 hours it’s going to take to get home won’t damage it and even if it does replacing a jacket and having been warm would’ve been worth the $100-200 bucks.
Perhaps the best thing you can do from the start is avoid having to use your 72 Hour Bag at all. Let’s face it, if your automobile is functional you’re not going to need or even want to pull out your 72 Hour Bag and walk some crazy distance back to the safety of your bed. One way to avoid having to abandon your vehicle is to carry four cans of Fix A Flat in the trunk of your car. It comes in a variety of sizes so pick the can which will work best for your tire size. A lot of cars either have a donut spare or no spare tire at all anymore. If you have no spare at all chances are you were given one can of this in the repair kit which sits in the spare tire well under your trunk mat. Check and see, know what items are in there. Sometimes they have a little cigarette lighter pump which can come in handy at pool parties.
Toilet Paper, it’s a good idea if you’re packing extra items in your trunk that you put a roll or two of toilet paper in there because you’re not going to be as concerned with taking up too much room in your 72 Hour Bag. I like the kind which are wrapped in the paper because it can then be used as tinder to get a fire going without wasting any of the actual toilet paper. Toilet paper has many uses other than what it is actually intended for. Fire starter, tissues for blowing nose, using as a layer over a small wound etc…
Wipes are also a good item to keep in your car, both kinds baby wipes (unscented) and clorox wipes because sanitation is going to be an important thing if you’re stuck somewhere away from readily available water for washing. By washing I mean not only you but items and surfaces you’re going to want to keep clean. If you have some kind of injury and you need to change a dressing it’d be a good idea to clean the surface where you’re laying out your medical items before applying them to your body. The Clorox wipes will help sanitize that area. I’m guessing they aren’t going to do a perfect job, but it’ll be better than what was there if you didn’t.
Lastly, you should already have a folding map of the area you live inside your 72 Hour Bag but because you have the room and weight isn’t an issue tuck an old school Thomas Guide inside your car. Most vehicles have pockets on the back of the front seats. Just tuck it in there, that way it’s out of the way but won’t get destroyed lying in the back seat floor. It’s just as important to have a paper map when in your car during an emergency as it is when you’re out hiking. You wouldn’t go into the wild with out a paper map and rely on an electronic device to save your ass, so don’t do it with you’re car either. Many of us go to different locations for work daily and you can’t possibly know every road and shortcut, but the Thomas Guide has very detailed maps and they are pretty easy to use. Nowadays you should be able to find one at a garage sale for pretty cheap.