What to Pack in Your Car BEFORE an Evacuation

Keeping your car well-stocked with emergency items will save you time if you ever need to evacuate. This article is not about what to do during an evacuation. It’s about getting your car ready beforehand. Don’t expect shelters to be up and running when you arrive. Your car may be the place you sleep and hang out for several days.

I drive a Hyundai Santa Fe and my SUV has many compartments and pockets to store items in. Here is the printable list of the items I chose to keep in my car. An asterisk means it’s also an item you could keep in a grab-and-go bag too. I put several items in Ziploc bags or pencil pouches, and put them throughout my car.

What to Pack in Your Car BEFORE an Evacuation.pdf


  • Flashlight*
  • Umbrella
  • Car emergency glass breaker



  • Sunglasses
  • Cell phone wall charger (the cord is plugged into the car USB port: however, I want the wall charger in case I need it at an evacuation facility.)
  • Gum or mints
  • Hand sanitizer*
  • Mittens*
  • Cash & coins* (small bills)


Groom Me Pouch:

  • Hair elastics*
  • Brush and comb*
  • Mirror* (use an old makeup compact)
  • Tweezers
  • Nail clippers
  • Nail file
  • Tissues*
  • Lip balm*
  • Lotion*
  • Safety pins

Feed Me Pouch

  • Napkins* (gather fast-food)
  • Plastic utensils* (gather fast-food)
  • Cleansing wipes
  • Mini can opener
  • Scissors
  • Candy
  • Paper cups
  • Small trash bags

Communications Pouch

  • Pens & pencils*
  • Notepad*

ACTIVITY POCKETS behind driver/passenger seats (People get bored at evacuation shelters, so keep some activity items in your car that don’t require electricty.)

  • Sudoku and word search activities* (I copied my own online)
  • Coloring books*
  • Small spiral notebooks
  • Colored pencils
  • Colored markers
  • Cards*
  • Small kid toys*
  • Paperback books
  • Scriptures* like The Book of Mormon
  • Magazine like The Friend, New Era or Ensign
  • Laminated copy of LDS patriarchal blessing*


Since fire extinguishers don’t last forever, put a reminder on your Google calendar to have it checked a year from now. Never try not to tackle a fire that is large or out of control.

WHEELED DUFFEL BAG, BACKPACK OR CARRY-ON BAG (Use any size that fits in your car. Put heavy items towards the bottom. Mine is a 30″ Coleman Wheeled Duffle bag I found at Kohl’s. I prefer something with wheels.

  • Water bottles*
  • Millenium food bars*
  • Blanket
  • Tarp
  • Emergency solar blankets, several *
  • Rain ponchos, several *
  • Cargo pants with multiple pockets
  • Shirts*
  • Underwear*
  • Boots & socks*
  • Sun hat that covers neck*
  • Beanie*
  • Toiletries*
  • Liquid soap
  • Headlamp*
  • Duct tape
  • Wash cloth*
  • Toilet paper*
  • Feminine items*
  • Stove in a can*
  • Enamel cup*
  • Large trash bags*


  • Bandages, various*
  • Gauze & pads, various*
  • Medical gloves*
  • Ace bandages*
  • Adhesive tape*
  • CPR mouthpiece*
  • Dust masks*
  • Bandana*
  • Alcohol wipes*
  • Needles and thread
  • Triangular bandages
  • Cold packs
  • Benadryl kids chewable (bee stings, allergic reactions, etc.)
  • Prescriptions*
  • First Aid Guide*

C.E.R.T. BACKPACK (Community Emergency Response Team). You’ ll recognize these search and rescue items if you’ve been CERT trained. Everyone should be CERT trained and CPR trained. Become part of the solution.

  • C.E.R.T. safety vest
  • C.E.R.T. hard hat
  • Goggles
  • Leather work gloves
  • Knee pads or foam gardening pad
  • C.E.R.T. victim identification tape 4 colors
  • Carabiners
  • Light Sticks – 12 Hour Green
  • Permanent markers
  • Notebook
  • Pencils & pens
  • Rubber bands
  • Multi-use tool
  • Pocket knife
  • Emergency Solar Radio
  • Extra flashlight batteries in dated baggie
  • Crowbar
  • Nylon rope
  • Sunblock, travel size
  • Insect repellant, travel size

Wow! That took some time to put together. And please don’t think my car is all ready. I’ve still got some work to do.

Do I have sleepless nights worrying about evacuations? No. But it feels soooo good to get this idea moving forward. I hope you’ll find something useful in this post to help you prepare your car for an evacuation. And I hope you never ever, EVER have to evacuate.

Best wishes,

Valerie Albrechtsen

The Food Storage Organizer


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