Wisconsin Department of Transportation

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Coffee can survival kit for winter driving

Ice and Snow, Take It Slow campaign logo

You easily can equip your vehicle with essential survival gear for winter. Here's what you'll need:

  • A 2 or 3 pound metal coffee can (punch 3 holes at the top of can, equal distance apart). You'll be storing the other items inside the can.
  • 60-inch length of twine or heavy string (cut into 3 equal pieces - used to suspend can).
  • 3 large safety pins (tie string to safety pins and pin to car roof interior to suspend can over candle).
  • 1 candle 2" diameter (place on lid under suspended can for melting snow).
  • 1 pocket knife, reasonably sharp (or substitute with scissors).
  • 3 pieces of bright cloth 2" wide x 36" long (tie to antenna or door handle).
  • Several packets of soup, hot chocolate, tea, bouillon cubes, etc. (mixed into melted snow to provide warmth and nutrition).
  • Plastic spoon.
  • 1 small package of peanuts and/or a couple protein/energy bars, some dried fruit (such as dried cranberries, which come in nicely sealed snack packs), and even a little chocolate, to provide you with some energy or comfort in stressful times.
  • 1 pair of socks and 1 pair of gloves or glove liners, depending on what will fit in the can (cotton is not recommended because it provides no insulation when wet).
  • 2 packages of book matches.
  • 1 sun shield blanket or 2 large green or black plastic leaf bags (to reflect body heat).
  • 1 pen light and batteries (keep separate).

When complete, place stocking cap over kit and carry in passenger compartment of car. If you have a 3 pound can, you will still have additional room for band-aids, aspirin, small radio, etc. If there is still room left, increase the quantity of any of the above items or improvise items you feel might be necessary.

Other items you may want to keep in the vehicle:

  • A charged cell phone.
  • Large plastic garbage bag.
  • Pencil stub and paper.
  • Plastic whistle.

You may want to keep the survival kit in the passenger compartment in case you go into a ditch and can't get to or open the trunk.

Questions about the content of this page:
Office of Public Affairs, opa.exec@dot.wi.gov
Last modified: September 20, 2010

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