How a Coffee Can Can Save Your Life

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While the weather is bitingly cold outside...and a storm could be brewin,' you may have plans to head out of town during the upcoming holidays. So what happens if your car breaks down and you're stranded? Do you have what it takes to survive? It may be easier than you think.

If you're driving on back roads during the winter time, you could get stuck in a blizzard...or worse. Believe it or not...something as small as a coffee can with about forty survival items crammed into it could help you survive in some of the worst conditions imaginable.

Essential survival items, like a flashlight, candles, a whistle, food...even dental floss...but not necessarily for your teeth.

"You actually can use it (floss) to tie wounds closed, you can tie things up, secure things to a backpack. It's very strong, also very convenient in a small package," said John Minck, Washoe County Search and Rescue volunteer.

He says everyone who lives and drives in a cold climate should have a survival doesn't have to be in a coffee can...but it should contain the essentials.

"Toilet paper, always important, a flashlight, very important, the knife is good to have. A compass."

A whistle, to help people find you...comfort food, to tide you over...and string, never know.

"You're preparing yourself for the worst. It may never happen, but if it does, you're prepared for it."

Best case scenario, you'll never have to open your kit...but when you're cold, tired and hungry, Minck says you'll be glad you did.

"Pencil and paper, very important. If you have to leave your vehicle and go somewhere to get help, leave a note on the dashboard inside the vehicle. For a simple a device, a large garbage bag is very handy to have. You can cut a hole in it and make a poncho out of it."

A pair of warm socks and a hat fit right over the kit, making it compact...Minck says you can add to it...warm clothes and water are most important. You can last three weeks without food, but only three days without water.

"It's got food, it has a way to heat water. You can actually use the can to heat water. It has mittens for your hands, flares, a light, spare batteries."

In Northern Nevada, the weather can turn on a Minck says it's good to be prepared...and in a dire situation, simple survival items, no matter how insignificant they seem, could truly save your life.

"It's not luxury by any means but after a few days without food, it may seem like luxury."

You can easily create a kit at home for around $30 or so. You may have to purchase some items, but many you probably already have just lying around the house.

Here is a list of options. You can print one out by clicking on the "Hot Topics" link on our homepage.

If trapped in your vehicle:
* Try not to panic. People will be looking for you and until they find you this kit will help you stay safe.
* If the car is off the road, check for and treat any injuries.
* Stay in the vehicle. Don't leave to search for others unless the help is visible within 100 yards.
* Display a "help" sign. Hang a brightly colored cloth on the radio antenna.
* Run the engine about 10 minutes each hour and only run the heater or dome light if the vehicle is running.
* Keep the exhaust pipe clear of snow and open a window slightly for ventilation.
* Clasp your hands and move your arms and legs occasionally. Don't stay in one position for too long.
* Bring anything you might use from the trunk into the car, such as blankets, jackets of flares. (do not light the flares inside the car.)
* Use newspaper, maps and even car mats for insulation.
* Huddle together for warmth.
* If more than one person is in the car, take turns sleeping. If you're alone, try to stay awake.

Here's a list of ideas of what to pack with you into a coffee can or other container:

First aide manual, 3 pieces of string, safety pins, fluorescent trail tape, candle and lighter, Penlight and spare battery, emergency blanket, socks, mittens, soup mix, instant cocoa, candy, large garbage bag, emergency scissors, pencil & paper, toilet paper, folding knife, dental floss and chap stick, plastic whistle, compass, emergency signal mirror, chemical hand warmers, etc.

First Aide Supplies: Aspirin, Advil, antacid, antihistamine, Band-aids and tape, 4 x 4 & roller gauze, trauma bandage, hand wipes and cleansing towelettes, tweezers, thermometer, moleskin, etc.