16 Items That Fit in Any Everyday Purse or Bag, and Will Save You From a Multitude of Emergencies

what to keep in your bag for emergencies

Graphic by KCM

Safety never seemed so simple. 

If you’re lugging around a heavy purse, chances are you have just about everything you need in there. Maybe you’ve got a heavy wallet full of change, some random makeup floating around, a stick or two of gum — but do you have what you’d need in case of an emergency? 

While you can’t carry every single thing you could possibly ever need in an emergency in your purse, it’s smart to keep a few items handy just in case. Small items like bandaids and pain relievers take up little to no room, and they’re lifesavers when you find yourself needing them while you’re far from home. 

Thankfully, lots of these essentials come in small packages that you can keep even in tiny crossbody bags. If you’re tired of carrying a Mary Poppins-esque bag with you at all times just so you can feel prepared, here are the must-haves for emergencies you should keep in your bag with you. 

Items to Keep in Your Purse at All Times

Extra Masks

These days, there’s no such thing as too many masks. Having an extra one makes being out and about a little easier, especially if you unexpectedly need a mask or someone you’re with forgets one.

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Portable Phone Charger

Seeing that your phone is on 1 percent is an instant stressor. Knowing that you have a way to charge it that doesn’t require an outlet? Instant stress reliever. This slim portable charger will ensure you never are caught with a dead phone while you’re out and about again. If you don’t have an extra charging cord you keep in your bag, it may be a good idea to invest in a USB charging cord that stays in your bag, too.

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Hand Sanitizer

Chances are you already have this one in your bag, but it’s always good to double check. Hand sanitizer is essential when you don’t have access to a bathroom to properly wash your hands or if you want to quickly kill any germs after touching something dirty like a gas pump.

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Emergency Sewing Kit

Lost a button? Have a rip in your pants? This mini sewing kit will save the day. It comes with needles, thread, extra buttons, safety pins, and a mini pair of scissors, that way you can make small repairs on-the-go. Even if you don’t have a wardrobe malfunction, it’s a great kit to have to pin a blouse closed or shorten the slit in a dress or skirt if you want to feel less exposed.

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Small First Aid Kit

Blisters and small cuts always seem to happen when you don’t have a bandaid with you. Stash this clever container in your purse and you’ll never be left limping from a painful blister again. This tin contains 18 bandaids and some antibiotic creams, which should keep you covered for a while. When you run out of bandages, simply add some more to your tin and you’re good to go.

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We’ve all accidentally left our glasses at home or lost a contact while out and about. Having a backup pair of readers in your bag ensures you won’t be left squinting at menus or road signs because you can’t see very well.

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Dry, cracked lips are painful and annoying, but they can easily be soothed with a good chapstick. This lip moisturizer from Malin + Goetz is one of our favorites because it has a smooth texture and it can be used as a cuticle or hand moisturizer in a pinch. If you want one with some color, this ILIA chapstick comes in eight different hues.

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Safety Alarm

Even if you don’t think you have any reason to use it, it’s comforting to know that you have a safety alarm with you should something happen. This one from She’s Birdie looks like a keychain, but when you pull the keyring off the device, a loud alarm sounds, hopefully scaring off anyone trying to harm you. 

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Pain Relief Medication

Headaches and random pains can strike at any moment, so having a couple of pain relief pills is always a good idea. Some come in packets, which are easier to stash in your bag than a full bottle. Plus, it makes it easier to hand a packet to a friend when they’re in need, rather than having to dig around and touch every pill before handing it to them.

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Collapsible Water Bottle

Staying hydrated is the key to a happy body, so ensuring you always have a way to drink water is a smart idea. This 20-ounce collapsible water bottle takes up little space when not in use, and you can even hang it from your purse strap to save space inside your bag when it’s filled up. It’s also way more sustainable than buying a multitude of disposable bottles every time you get thirsty. Pro-tip: Most coffee shops and restaurants will fill your bottle with ice cold water for you for free if you ask!

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Non-Perishable Snack

Hunger strikes at the most inopportune times, so having a snack at the ready is perfect for those moments. Or, in a worst case scenario, having food in your bag when you are stuck without it saves you the worry of what you can find to eat. Even a couple of granola bars or packs of nuts will keep you from feeling like you’re starving if you have to wait longer than usual between meals. We like these Clif bars because they don’t get smashed in your bag like granola tends to.

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Pill Case with Medications

Katie uses larger Stasher bags for storing treats, but these mini ones are great for holding pills and other assorted items in your purse. Making sure you have a small backup of your medications is extremely important, as you don’t want to miss a dose if you can’t get back home. Store a few of each medication you take in one of these little bags and stash it in a purse pocket for safekeeping.

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Stain Stick

Red wine and pasta sauce are no match for this mighty stain remover. Accidents happen, and drips and spills are a part of enjoying a delicious meal. This tiny stain stick can help remove stains before they set in. Simply dab the area with the pen, blot it with a clean cloth or napkin, and watch the magic happen.

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A Swiss Army knife is considered one of the most versatile tools thanks to its small size and multitude of doohickeys. While you may feel like a boy scout carrying one, we guarantee it’ll come in handy more often than you think. This one functions as a pair of scissors, nail file, knife, screwdriver, utility blade, tweezers, and a toothpick, all in one tiny package.

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Team KCM is all about protecting your skin with SPF as part of a daily skincare routine, but reapplication is important, too! This stick won’t explode in your bag the way a bottle could, and it’s great to use for a quick extra layer of protection when you’re out. Plus, if you find you’re out without any sunscreen on in the first place, this can be used all over your body to keep you from burning.

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A Bag to Hold it All

The most important part of having an emergency bag? The bag! This one from Baggu is made from heavy duty recycled nylon with a recycled ripstop lining. It’s completely machine washable, and it has a ton of pockets to keep you organized. The crossbody strap makes it easy to carry hands-free, or you can remove the strap and use the purse as a pouch you can stow in a duffel or suitcase. 

If you want something a little more sleek, this italian leather bag from Everlane is a gorgeous investment. It has a roomy interior with a pocket and an outside pocket that can easily hold your phone or sunglasses.

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