10 Survival Items that Should Be in Your Car’s Glove Compartment

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Every single driver needs to have an emergency kit for the trunk of the car, and smart preppers also keep a Bug Out Bag in their vehicle trunk.

But what about inside your car?

There are dozens of situations where you might not be able to get to the items in your trunk.

Like if you get rear-ended.

Or if it is pitch black outside and you can’t see your way to the trunk.

Or if you find yourself in a situation where every single second counts…

For these reasons, you should have these survival items in your car’s glove compartment.


1. Flashlight

It is dark, you are on a deserted back road, and your car stalls on you. Don’t go outside without turning on a flashlight first.  The last thing you want is to add a sprained ankle to the problem!

I actually keep two flashlights in my glove compartment.  One is a really big, heavy flashlight.  Not only is it super bright, but it can be used in self-defense for blinding an attacker by shining the light in his eyes and then bashing him over the head with it.

The other flashlight is a headlamp.

Headlamps are awesome because they give you light while freeing up your hands.  Even in non-emergency situations this is a big help.

My wife assures me that going to the bathroom in the dark with a headlamp is a lot easier than doing so while holding a flashlight! 😉

2. First Aid Kit

I’ve got a complete first aid kit in the trunk of my car as well as a mini version in the glove compartment.  The main item here is heavy sterile gauze in case someone sustains arterial bleeding which needs to be controlled right away.

3. Gloves

This is a survival item that a lot of people forget about.  In accidents and other emergency situations, there is often a lot of glass, debris, and maybe even fire around.

For example, let’s say that you get rear-ended and all of your survival items are in your trunk.  How are you supposed to open your trunk without cutting your hands on all the broken glass?

Opt for heavy-duty work gloves or get a pair of cut-resistant gloves.

4. Seatbelt Cutter

I’ve actually got one of these on my keychain, but have an extra one in my glove box too.  Not being able to escape a vehicle because of a caught seatbelt is a very-real problem!

5. Window Breaker

Along with the seatbelt cutter, you’ll want a window breaker in your emergency glove box kit (the item above incorporates both).

Don’t think that you are so tough that you can smash through a car window with your hand.  You might succeed, but slice open an artery in the process!

6. Face Mask

Face masks are important for protecting yourself from fumes and airborne contaminants during emergencies.  Just think about how many people are still dying from the terrorist attacks of September 11th because they got cancer from breathing in all the toxins in the air.

An N95 face mask is probably the most practical choice.  You can read about N95 face masks here.

7. Multi-Tool

If I had to rush out of my car quickly and could only grab one item, it would be my multi-tool.  With the knives, screwdrivers, scissors, and other tools on it, I could greatly increase my chances of surviving any SHTF situation.

Though I will also say that you should probably keep your multi-tool in your pocket or keychain at all times and not just in your glove box.

I also like these EDC tools.

8. Road Map and Compass

Don’t get spoiled by GPS!  Navigation systems fail and you could find yourself very, very lost.

Nothing beats a standard paper road map and compass for navigation – just make sure you actually learn how to read a map.

Orienteering is a fun way to practice this, along with these other fun ways to learn survival skills.

9. Pepper Spray

Because of varying state laws about concealed firearms and some issues about keeping a gun in your glove compartment, I’m not going to list “firearm” here (though it is obviously an option).

Instead, pepper spray is a great alternative to guns as a self-defense weapon.

Plus, you don’t always want to kill an attacker…

10.  Poncho

What good is a raincoat in your trunk if you get all wet while going out to get it?

Wet = Cold = Death

Seriously, staying dry is important so make sure you’ve got a poncho in your glove compartment in addition to the change of clothes and rain jacket you should have in your trunk emergency car kit.

Bonus: Fire Extinguisher Under Your Seat

I’ve never had to use my car’s fire extinguisher, but a friend of mine did save someone from being seriously burnt (possibly to death!) by quickly getting out his fire extinguisher and putting out a fire which had started in her car.

So don’t put your fire extinguisher in your trunk.  Keep it under your seat where you can get to it very quickly!


What other survival items do you keep in your car glove box?  How do these differ from the ones you keep in your trunk?  

Image credit: “Typical Saab pimples on glove compartmen” (CC BY 2.0) by  tobiastoft 

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I’m Jacob Hunter, founder of Primal Survivor.
I believe in empowering people with the knowledge to prepare and survive in the modern world.

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  1. Don’t carry pepper spray, in some places it’s illegal, but you know that sticky lock?
    Those small aerosol cans of WD40 are great for curing that only don’t get it in your eyes, very painful.
    Best bit about it?
    It’s legal carry as you have a good reason for carrying it.

  2. Your heavy gauze won’t stop arterial bleeding alone, you’ll have to use a tourniquet. There are various models, the best are the ones you can apply with one hand (say you have to apply it to your own arm). Apply as high above the injury as possible, the use heavy gauze etc. to pack the wound. After time, slowly release the tourniquet and check for bleeding. If it’s stopped, remove the tourniquet, if he hasn’t re tighten.

  3. I keep a few light sticks and bandannas could be used as masks. One of those flashlights that has a red moving warning light is a plus.

  4. Probably should keep your seatbelt cutter closer than your glove compartment. If you seatbelt won’t release you may not be able to reach the glove compartment.

  5. Heavy duty garbage bags, can be used as a poncho or to carry your stuff if you have to bail. I also carry an emergency go backpack behind my seat which includes a water filtration straw, empty water container, lighters and long glowing light sticks. Dry clothes and rain gear. All very compact.

  6. I have a valid credit card (with plenty of credit) in the car in case of an unexpected expense (hotel, taxi, garage bill etc)

  7. I’ve also read that wasp spray is a good defense. It can shoot 15 feet(?)—so you don’t have to wait for the attacker to get in arm’s reach— and is perfectly legal.

  8. Car cell phone charger. Your cell phone is your prime coms device. A car battery can keep this on line until you are rescued. I just keep mine plugged into the lighter socket 24/7.

  9. In SF, CA we have breakins, and many items in the glove box are taken quickly. Sometimes, cars have side locks that open the trunks, and stuff is stolen very quickly there. Make sure that the trunk lock on the driver side. I get wooden cigar boxes from Smoke shops to store items under the seat. If boxes are place inside and out of the way, may be unseen by the thieves.

  10. This was a good review. Although I have been refining my Car Winter Emergency Equipment for 40 years since moving from Socal to Canada, there is always room for improvement. This time it was finally getting a window break tool that is also a phone charger, so it is always handy in the console charging station and can’t fly around the vehicle in a rollover. I also moved the winter work gloves up to the console from the “Car Bag” in the rear, where there is also a “Get Home Bag,” Dog Bag, and First Aid Kit.

    I have to agree with the comment that glove boxes themselves are vulnerable to thieves. Mine has been rifled twice, but luckily the humble-looking packs behind the rear seats (representing over a thousand dollars in equipment and supplies and dozens of hours) were left untouched.

    I keep only “cleaning supplies” in the glove box now…paper towel, wet wipes, hand wipes, glass wipes, rag, swiffer (for the dashboard, seriously), plus a face mask. Might have to add that heavy-duty trauma bandage after thinking about the potential for bleeds, though….

    • Thanks Katie, the window break tool that is a charger sounds perfect, i’ll look out for one. Really clever point about it staying within reach as well. Unfortunately not much we can do about the petty thieves so just have to chalk it up to the “cost of doing business”

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