The children were outside playing and the adults were indoors cooking.

The evening sun was setting over a spectacular view of snow-capped mountains.

And someone was pounding on the door screaming:

 “Fire! Get out now!”


We called the kids inside, turned off the stove, grabbed our purses and car keys, and headed for the door.

We were vacationing on a ranch in the high desert of Oregon. Forest fires were somewhat common, and we figured one had sparked up nearby.

But it wasn’t a forest fire.

We walked out the door – me, my sister, our mother and our five tiny children – to flames reaching twenty or thirty feet into the sky. A vacation condo, two condos really, as well as a soaring fir tree, were completely engulfed in flames – just feet from where we stood. The heat was intense and the smell was intense and the sense of danger was very, very intense.

Royal Navy Firefighters Tackling a Blaze

Are you prepared for tragedy? 

What if you were away from home – on a road trip or a day trip or even just a trip to the store? Do you have what you need in your car to prevent an inconvenience from turning into a full-blown emergency?


September is National Preparedness Month and this is the second in a four part series of posts on Emergency Kits. Last week I wrote about a simple Under Bed Kit in case emergency strikes during the night. Being as woefully underpreparedas reportedly 60% of Americans, I’m building my kits alongside you.


This week we are building a Car Kit.

Some call it a Go Kit or a Grab-n-Go Kit, but I like to think of it as permanently in the car.

Basically you want to prepare for car trouble, especially during inclement weather or late night hours; sudden but extraordinary traffic jams, medical emergencies, or even a home evacuation.

Plan for several hours to a couple days. Be prepared to walk.



  • Backpack
  • Box, Bin or Crate

 Roadside Kit

  • Jumper Cables
  • Flares
  • Flashlight (preferably wind-up)
  • Reflective Signs
  • Basic Tools
  • Small Fire Extinguisher
  • Knife
  • Matches
  • Seat Belt Cutter/Escape Tool (awesome!)
  • A ready-made kit can be purchased at any hardware or variety store


  • Mobile Phone
  • Phone Charger
  • Whistle
  • Walkie Talkies
  • Quarters

Winter Weather

  • Cat Litter or Sand
  • Folding Shovel Ice Scraper
  • Space Blankets
  • Stocking Hat
  • Warm Gloves
  • Foldable Jacket
  • Tire Chains
  • Tarp


  • Small First Aid Kit
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug Repellant
  • Emergency Medications
  • Ready-made First Aid Kits are available at any variety store

Food & Water

  • Pop Top Canned Goods
  • Power Bars
  • Nuts
  • Peanut Butter Crackers
  • Bottled Water

Important Documents

  • Driver’s License
  • Auto Insurance Card
  • Auto Registration
  • Cash & Credit Cards

 Personal Care

  • Sunglasses
  • Corrective Glasses
  • Contact Case & Saline
  • Toilet Paper
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Wet wipes
  • Hand Sanitizer


  • Formula
  • Baby Food
  • Kid Food/Snacks
  • Diapers & Wipes
  • Change of Clothes
  • Blanket(s)
  • Comfort Item


  • Collar with Tags & Leash
  • Food
  • Folding Water Bowl

Just for Fun

  • Playing Cards
  • Pen & Paper


  • Restock/rotate items twice a year
  • Keep car in good working order
  • Keep gas tank at least ½ full
  • Agree on a communication plan with family members
  • Always check weather reports before road trips.


If this seems like a lot, make it easy on yourself. The American Red Cross sells complete kits, from the very basic to the very deluxe – backpack and all.


This summer I stocked a backpack for hiking, and since it contains many of the items on this list, I tossed it in the car and am letting it double as my Car Kit.

Here’s a photo of it – along with some of the contents.

The fire I mentioned earlier was brought under control in a couple hours. There were no injuries but the condos did suffer significant damage.


The rest of our vacation was particularly enjoyable. The fire was one of those reminders that we can’t take anything for granted.

And to be prepared, of course.

Come back next week for the STAY AT HOME KIT.

The following week will be the very important IDENTITY KIT.

By the way, the following websites have loads of information about disaster preparedness:

The American Red Cross

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (the CDC)

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) (a part of FEMA)

Survival Supply

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