Imagine this scenario: you’re trying to race out of town to stay ahead of an impending winter storm. But thanks to heavy traffic, you wind up getting stuck, in your car, in the season’s worst blizzard. You have no blanket, no water, no food, and no way to stay warm once you car runs out of gas. And because there are hundreds of others just like you on the road, you can’t expect help anytime soon.
Sounds frightening, right? Well, this was the reality for thousands of people during the 2010-2011 winter season. Many cities, like Chicago, had to cope with miles of stranded travelers when snowfall quickly outpaced their ability to keep the roads clean. I know I’ll never forget seeing Jim Cantore, in Chicago, freaking out about the thundersnow.
Anyway, all of this is why it’s so important that we keep some kind of survival kit in our car, or in our backpack. And, we need one not just for winter but for all year around. What if you get lost while you’re out backpacking for an afternoon? What if you’re out in the middle of nowhere and you run out of gas?
I’m going to show you how to make a very small, but very effective survival kit that fits entirely in a water bottle. Yep, it’s cool.
The Water Bottle Survival Kit: What You Need
This genius idea comes from my good friend Ronin, who’s the master of anything survival related. He made me one to keep in my car, and here’s what it contains:
- 1 stainless steel water bottle
- 10 yards of paracord
- 1 Swiss Army knife
- 1 Emergency space blanket
- 1 small flashlight
- 1 bunch of matches, in a waterproof container
Here’s the picture…
What else could you add? Well, if you ended up getting a bigger water bottle you could also include:
- A small first aid kit
- A Leatherman tool (which I’ll be picking up this week for mine)
- A light stick
- Some water purification tablets
- A small section of rolled duct tape
- An emergency whistle
- A small compass (which you could attach to the outside)
- A mirror (for signaling)
- A small ziploc baggie with cotton balls and petroleum jelly (makes a great firestarter)
- A small fishing kit
- A small piece of aluminum foil (to make a fishing lure, to make a cap to heat water faster, etc.)
- Emergency nibbles, like nuts or peanut butter crackers
It’s also helpful to keep a small, empty tin can in your car. Why? So you have a small place to start a fire; this little fire can be used to melt water if you happen to get stuck in your car during a winter storm.
What’s the Paracord For?
Paracord is nylon cord that will hold 550 lbs of weight before it breaks. And, this cord is highly useful when you’re in an emergency situation.
For instance, you can use it to tie limbs together to build an emergency shelter. You can use it to make a tourniquet, as a shoelace if yours breaks, to hoist food or supplies up in the air, to tie up a robber…you get the idea. Like duct tape, paracord has a million uses.
Wrapping the paracord around the water bottle also serves several purposes. First, it saves space. Second, if you have to put cold water, on a cold day, in your water bottle, the paracord will insulate your hands when you’re holding the bottle; this will help keep you warm since you don’t have to touch that cold steel.
Last, and perhaps most importantly, imagine you’re stuck in your car in winter. You need water. Melting snow in your mouth is going to lower your core temperature and use precious calories, which is very dangerous. As I said a moment ago, you can use the stainless steel water bottle as a “pot” to melt water (using the matches and a tin can to hold the fire). And, the paracord will cushion your fingers from the hot steel.
This is another reason why choosing a stainless steel water bottle is better than going with a plastic one (like a 32 oz. Nalgene). However, a bigger bottle means you can hold more supplies.
This is a fairly frugal survival kit to make, especially since you likely have a bunch of the stuff you need already on hand. You can just toss it under your car seat and leave it alone. Hopefully the day will never come that you need it, but if you do it could save your life.
(photo courtesy: Sarah_Ackerman)