Looking for a compact, water-proof survival kit?  Turn a sturdy Lexan water bottle into a handy kit for your car, camping trip, or bike ride.  Keep one in your office or dorm room.  Should you ever be stranded or in an extreme situation, you’ll have the tools to keep yourself safe.  

UPDATE (5/26/08):  Nalgene now sells their own version of this brilliant idea.  It doesn’t have as many items as the one I made myself, but it’s still the basic idea and could easily be added to. 

Lexan Water Bottle
Shatter-proof, leak-proof, a Lexan bottle will withstand temperatures from -135C to 135 C.  Get one with a wide mouth, making it easy to pack full of everything you might need in an emergency situation.

Six-Function Whistle
You can find this in the camping section at Walmart or in any outdoor supply store.  Includes LED light, compass, magnifier, thermometer, signal mirror, and whistle.  Sure, you can buy these things separately, but you’ll increase the weight and size of your kit.  The magnifier can be used to start a fire in sunlight.  The mirror, whistle, and flashlight will be useful if you need to signal for help.  A compass is a survival necessity.

LED Flashlight
An LED flashlight’s battery will long outlast one with a regular bulb, and will usually yield far more light as well.

Look around and find one that suits you best.  There are tools with screwdrivers, tweezers, can openers, nail clippers – the works!  You need to be sure you have a blade – the rest is just preferences.

Fixed-Blade Knife
A fixed-blade knife is safer and easier than a folding knife for striking flint and doing large amounts of cutting.  Get one that fits in your water bottle.

Fire Steel
A fire is important in many survival situations.  You can keep warm, boil water for purification, cook food, signal for help, ward off animals and insects, and it keeps your morale up.  Be sure to have back-up methods of fire-starting so you’re never stuck without a fire.  Practice your fire-starting techniques on a regular basis so in a real emergency you can start your fire with confidence.

Waterproof Matches
It’s important to have at least two methods of fire-starting, so you can be assured of getting a fire going when you need it.  You can buy waterproof matches, or create your own by dipping matches in hot wax.

Bike Inner Tube
Cut into rings, the inner tube can be used as tinder for starting a fire.  It lights easily, even when wet, burns several minutes, is light weight, and the rings can also be used as sturdy rubber-bands.

Yes, tampons.  Get the O.B. brand, which are very small (no applicator).  They are made of cotton, and when pulled apart and fluffed can be used as top-notch tinder for fire-starting.  They are condensed and wrapped tightly taking up less space than cotton balls.  The plastic wrapper also protects from moisture, though isn’t completely water-proof.

Para Cord
Uses for this kind of cord are almost endless.  It is strong, but lightweight.

Mylar Blanket
Preventing hypothermia is important.  This can serve as a sleeping bag, or even as a shelter from wind and rain.

Clif Bars
Having compact emergency food is essential.  You can find many types of energy bars, this is just one of my favorites.  Make sure not to get chocolate-coated ones, as they will become gooey in warm weather.

Water Purification Tablets
Staying hydrated is essential, and a case of diarrhea can be fatal in survival situations.  Being able to purify whatever water is available is an important aspect of survival.

Permanent Marker
If you need to leave a note or mark your path or whatever, a permanent marker is essential. I have a small one which has a loop for hanging on a key chain, lanyard or carabineer.

Duct Tape
Obviously, the whole roll won’t fit in your bottle.  Just start a mini-roll on a thin strip of cardboard and roll until it’s about an inch or so thick.  Duct tape can come in handy in many situations, including patching shoes or clothes, a make-shift bandage, marking your path, etc.  I picked the yellow because if you’re marking your path, it’s easy to see in both daylight and at night.  You can use your permanent marker to make notes on it too.

Basic Sewing Kit
The needle can be useful for removing splinters.  The thread can be used for fishing and tying.  Safety pins can be used for fishing and for many other uses.  And if you have ripped clothing, you can repair it.  You don’t have to buy a kit, just wrap some thread around a strip of cardboard, and slide a few needles into it, place it in a plastic bag or a film canister.

Having an assortment of bandages can really help.  Even minor scrapes and cuts can become infected and cause major problems

Antiseptic Wipes
Sticking a bandage on a dirty wound won’t help as much as sticking it on a clean one.  Keep a few antiseptic wipes in your kit and you won’t have to worry about infection.

Moist Towelettes
You probably won’t want to waste your drinking water on washing your hands.  So get some individually wrapped towelettes and stay clean.

In addition, keep some cash and change in your kit, and never ever “borrow” it.  Leave it there so you know it’s there if you need it.  You can add some additional comforts, such as toilet paper.  But remember not to over-stuff your bottle, because you need to be able to put things in and out of it quickly.  Pack everything in small plastic zip bags to keep it contained and water proof.  I use bike inner tube rings as rubber bands to secure the bags and keep them compact.

Other emergency supplies to keep in your car:

Emergency Candles
A good emergency candle can provide just enough limited heat to make a difference in the car. You don’t run the risk of monoxide poisoning, plus if you have a small tin cup or can, you can melt snow to drink.

Colored ribbons or fabric
Tie two thick ribbons or bandanas to your antenna, side mirror, or roof rack to signal that you need help.  A red one for daytime, and a white one for night.

A package of hard candies
Last winter a woman in her ’80s took a wrong turn and became stuck on an unused road. She was in the car for two nights in sub-zero temperatures, and – fortunately – was found just in time. She had THREE peppermints with her, and somehow managed to eke them out to give her a bit of energy.

A hand-crank cell phone charger
Having a cell phone is fantastic, but not if the battery dies down. Having the hand-crank to provide power, you know you can recharge enough to get a message through.

Warm clothing and shoes
If you get stranded in your party clothes or work clothes, you will appreciate having shoes you can walk in and warm, dry clothes close at hand.  I keep a pair of track pants, a t-shirt, underwear, bra, and socks in a small tote bag in my car.  As soon as I buy a new pair of sneakers, I’ll toss my old ones in my car for back-up.

A blanket
I always keep at least one blanket in my car.  In the summer, I can use it for picnics or to cover a hot seat.  In the winter, it could save my life.  I rolled mine up and tied it in the middle like a sleeping bag.  That keeps it from becoming a rumpled mess in my trunk.

A tarp
I use mine all the time to keep my windshield clear from overnight snowfalls and ice storms.  But I also keep it in my car in case of an emergency.  It can serve as a shelter and for many other purposes in a survival situation.