Here's the situation: You've driven off a cliff and landed in a bottomless ravine infested by rabid polar bears. Don't worry. You've prepared for this exact moment and you're ready to survive! This kit, while far from comprehensive, will provide some of the bare minimum supplies that will keep you ticking long enough to get rescued.
Assemble the kit from the following steps, and drop it into your purse/jacket pocket. Forget about it until the polar bears thing.
Step 1: Fire
So you've crawled out from the wreckage and somehow escaped the polar bears, but a host of mangy bonobos have stolen your cell phone. Fire is your next logical step to getting found.
Besides providing a host of psychological benefits, it provides a plume of smoke that will call attention to your location and scare off other potential bonobo looters.
You've probably seen plenty of "use lint as fire-starter" going around, for good reason. It lights easily and burns a little longer than most tinder. It's also easy to come by: dryer vents, belly buttons, under your couch, ect. Some people go a step further and dip it in petroleum jelly or pour over melted candle wax, both of which prolong the burn.
Simply make a small teepee of dry twigs around your furball, light it and watch the magic happen. Gradually stack larger sticks and limbs on top. Remember to clear out dry leaves and sticks for several feet from your firepit, and gather way too much wood. It goes a lot faster than you think, and you don't want to miss your rescue opportunity because you've gone out to find more wood.
My first iteration included the makings for s'mores, but those marshmallows sure do waste a lot of room.
Step 2: Water
So, now that you've got a safely raging fire, you're starting to sweat, and all that sweat is making you really thirsty. They say you can survive for three days without water, but let me tell you, two hours without a sip for me and I'm parched. I'm getting thirsty just thinking about it.
This is probably the coolest thing going for this Instructable. Take out the filter from a Brita water bottle, and snip the nozzle at the end so it fits into the tin. Poke it into the corner of a ziploc and tape the seal up with duct tape. Ta-dah! portable water filter. Fill it up with some mucky pond water, and it'll filter out 99.9% of the bad stuff. You're on your own for the other .01%.
Be aware, it does leak like crazy from the nozzle, so if you can, store it upside down. Tug it back whenever you're thirsty!
Step 3: Everyday Staples
So you're kicking back by the fireside, waiting to get rescued, when nature calls. Luckily, you've included some everyday staples that will make the waiting to get rescued bit all the more easy.
I've chosen Charmin Ultra Soft (the one with "comfort cushions" and the Bear on the front). You're stuck in the wilderness, but you're not a barbarian. Sheesh. There are just too many leaves that could be poison oak. Don't take that risk.
The uses for this are myriad. Fold it into a little boiling bowl for the fire you just made. Fold origami cranes. Make television bunny ears. Form it into an alien thought reading-proof hat. Use it as a terrible mirror. Whatever you use it for, you're going to feel cooler than MacGyver, and that helps your morale. Leading me to:
It's not just because you probably have some ragged squirrel bits left wedged in your teeth (blegh!). It's scientifically proven that people who floss live longer. That's 100% true, just Google it. You want to survive longer? Floss.
It also provides a tactile reminder that you're going to survive, and eventually return to civilization. The more you can keep your hope up, the stronger you're going to be.
You've taken everything out of the box, but that doesn't mean it has no more use. Assuming it's not covered in rust, it can also double as a mirror signal. if you see a helicopter in the distance: find a clearing in the trees and hold your hand up like a peace sign, with the copter between your two fingers. Use your peace sign as a target to guide the beam through towards the helicopter. Beam me up!
Step 4: Shelter
Alright, I know a lot of Altoids "purists" are against whatever can't fit into the tin, but whatever. These two things will make your life infinitely more comfortable.
Remember what I said about MacGyver? Duct tape is the key ingredient to making all kinds of good stuff. Especially in combination with:
Cut off about 10 feet and wrap it around the entire thing. If you happen to have a tarp, you can use the paracord as the centerline to drape it over (because everyone always carries tarps around). You can also tie it around branches to form a lean-to.
The trick for both of these is to use your imagination. Providing any kind of roof over your head is going to make all the difference in your morale.
Step 5: Extra Credit
You're sitting in your sweet hut, waiting to be rescued, and all kinds of bad thoughts start entering your head. "Why hasn't the helicopter come yet?", "What if I'm stranded here forever?", and "What if the bonobos are sending out dirty snapchats to all my friends?"
It's time to get your mind on more productive things. Like making a peg board game, as seen in Cracker Barrel tables across the country. I've been going for years, and I've never gotten past "just plain dumb". I'm not sure what that means, but being lost in the woods would be the perfect opportunity to finally prove my genius.
Get 14 little twigs, and make a triangle with 5 holes on each side. Fill in all the holes except for the top. Each hopped peg is removed. Try to hop all the pegs and leave just one twig. Simple you think? The rescuers are going to be tugging you away from your little peg board puzzle. "Just let me finish! Only two moves left!"