URBAN Emergency Kit Tin




About: My name is Deni. I enjoy DIY projects and figuring out how to tackle projects around my home, and finding creative solutions to things.

From the current plethora of “survival” or emergency kits packed into tins, it’s very clear that the idea of a small and compact emergency kit is something that pretty much everyone should have.  It’s also pretty clear that each kit more or less reflects its owner.

That being said, I am a city kid.  I do not fish, in fact, I don’t eat fish at all.  (Remember “Finding Nemo” – my motto is that “Fish are friends, NOT food!”  However, I certainly have no issue at all with anyone else catching or eating fish if that’s what they desire.  It’s not a criticism, just a personal preference.  Besides which, in LA there are only 2 real places to fish – the ocean or the neighbor’s koi pond.  Ocean fishing would require more than I could fit into a tin and if I were forced to eat the neighbor’s koi, I could probably get one out of the pond without a hook…  The same goes with fire.  It’s unlikely that I will really need to ever start a fire, and if I did, then a match or lighter would do me.  In the concrete jungle it’s pretty unlikely that I’d need to start a fire with a mag & flint, so I’ll stick to a lighter & matches.  Again, for those of you that camp or go into forresty areas, mountains or other wilderness places you’d certainly need to have that option available to you.  I’m more interested in making sure that I can get out of an 8th floor office if the power is down.  I don’t think I’d need to make a torch from the coatrack to do that.

So with that preface, please keep in mind that my kit matches me, and is designed to be an emergency kit, rather than true “survival” kit.  If the apocalypse is coming, I really doubt that anything in a tin would save me anyway.  This is my very first Instructible, so I hope that you'll enjoy checking it out and I welcome your comments!

Step 1: Long List of Inserted Items

1 Tin – totally your choice here.  I got mine at Office Depot for $2, and I liked it because it had a hinged lid rather than one that you have to remove and set aside.
1 18” Duct Tape Strip
2 1” x 8” Aluminum Tape Strips (Plus a few extra misc pieces to keep things in place)
1 Fisher Space Pen ($18 at office supply stores)
1 Short Pencil – I cut a regular pencil in half and kept the TOP half, with the eraser
1 Kind of Strong Magnet  (I think the one I have used to be a back to a name tag – the kind that lets you wear a nametag at work on your shirt, but uses a magnet instead of a pin to hold it in place)
1 2”x2” Post It Pad, or part of one
3 Large Brass Paperclips
2 Small Safety Pins
2 Medium Safety Pins
2 Funky Rectangle Paperclips
1 Pill Pouch (This is essentially a very small ziplock.  You can buy them at pretty much any drugstore, usually where you can find pill cutters or those pill caddy things.  I believe they’re about $4 for 25 or so, or you can reuse one of those small ziplocks that seem to come in most packages of electronics.)
1 Aluminum or Stainless Portable Waterproof Pill Box (About $3 for aluminum and $6 for the stainless when you can find them.  All I can find these days are the aluminum ones, but they’re usually either with the pill caddys & cutters or on the counter where you pick up prescriptions.)
1 Adhesive Business Card Sized Magnet
4 Thumbtacks
1 Small Piece of Cork
2 Picture Wire Eyes
2 Sewing Needles
1 Stainless Bobbin filled with thread (Found in any sewing store, usually in 3 or 6 packs, the 6 pack at Walmart was $2)
1 Small Portable Mirror
3 Squares of U-Glu  (http://www.ugluit.com)  2 go in the kit, the other is used to keep a few things in place
1 Altoids Tin Emergency Candle (Tons of ‘ibles out there to make them)  When I made mine, I included matches and a striker inside the tin.
2 Zip Ties
1 small lighter
1 Single Use Super Glue Tube
1 Snap Off Screw Eyeglass Repair Kit
1 Tube with a toothache swab inside (again at a drugstore, usually sold in 6 packs)
1 Small Laser Pointer
1 Whistle
1 Smaller Carabiner Clip
1 Medium Size Split Ring
2 Regular Rubber bands
1 XL Rubber band
1 Beaded Chain
1 Small Emory Board
1 Small Straw filled with Antibacterial Ointment
5 Alcohol Wipes
2 Butterfly Wound Closures
1 Eyeglass Wipe
1 Oral-B Brush Up
Expired Driver’s License
Emergency Contact Card
Small Multi-Tool

Step 2: Altoid Mini Tin Candle

REASON FOR INCLUSION - Flashlights are great, and there is a secret one inside this kit as well, but if you are in a stationary place awaiting rescue or something, and need a teeny tiny bit of warmth, this will help.  You can use it as a base to make a bigger fire if you're somewhere that you would want to be able to make one.  Besides that, these are just cool! 

Ton's of 'ibles out there on how to make one of these.  My personal twists on this are:

1 - Add some crayon shavings for colored wax

2 - I used aluminum tape to seal the hinge holes on the inside and outside of the tin, to keep the wick in place, and to affix the match striker to the top of the tin

3 - I disassembled a matchbook, and removed 10 matches (2 rows of 5 matches) and used a small piece of cardstock to create a new cover for the matches that would fit the new size.  I also kept part of the slogan from the matchbook striker that says "It's time to..." to maybe make me laugh if I have to actually use this in an emergency, or if it's a "real" emergency to use as a kind of grounding point to help myself relax and to focus on what the next task steps would be.

4 - Used a tiny bit of UGlu to adhere the matchbook to the top of the tin.  If you're not familiar with UGlu, it's like contact cement, rubbery little adhesive squares.  It's just like the stuff that keeps a credit card in place when they mail it to you...it kind of has the texture of boogers or something.  Kind of gross, but it works great because it is reuseable (a few times anyway if you're careful) and it doesn't damage any of the surfaces that it adheres to, and you can just stretch it out and pull it off when you want to remove it.

5 - Added a small piece of aluminum tape, with the backing STILL ON, inside the tin, so that if I have partially melted wax, I can make a quick cover over the bottom of the tin, and keep the wax inside the tin and away from the matches and striker, OR it can be used to fashion a windbreak to help keep the candle lit.

Step 3: Magnetic Cork Trivet

REASON FOR INCLUSION - First, metal containers that hold fire get HOT.  This gives you a safe surface to put your tin candle onto pretty much any surface safely.  Second, it's a great place to keep a few tacks and needles on the "roof" of your tin so you're using all of the available space, and the magnet keeps the tacks from pushing through a slimmer piece of cork so you don't poke your self with sharp points.

Parts for this step:

Piece of cork
Business card size adhesive magnet  (or if you don't have an adhesive one, you can glue yours on instead)
4 Thumbtacks
2 Picture Wire Eyes
2 Needles

Tools used in this step:
Utility Knife or scissors

Trace out your mini-tin candle onto your piece of cork.  My piece came from a 1 foot square that came in a package of 3 squares from an office supply store.  Free sources could be coasters, and you could probably substitute a similar material if you wanted to, or had something different on hand.

Cut your cork (CAREFULLY!) with a utility knife or scissors.  After you have done this, trace your CORK onto the paper side of the magnet.  Don't trace from the tin, trace from the cork, since you may have an odd line from your cutting and you want your magnet to match your cork as closely as possible.  Remove the paper to expose the adhesive, and firmly press your magnet onto your cork.  You may want to roll over the magnet side a few times with a rolling pin to ensure full contact from the adhesive, or stack something heavy on it for a few minutes.

Using a pliers, CAREFULLY push the needles into one side of the cork.  BE CAREFUL, the needle can jut out of the cork if you don't angle correctly and poke you hard in the finger or hand, causing pain, bleeding and excessive swearing!  If you have a protective glove to prevent poking injuries, I suggest you wear it!

Put your thumbtacks and Picture Hanger Eyes into your cork. 

FInished!   Place your trivet into the roof of your tin, or whatever location you think will work best for you.

It you need to, now your trivet will stay attached to the bottom of your candle tin with the magnet, so it won't slide off, and the cork will help hold it in place on a rough surface, instead of sliding around.

**No doubt you're wondering about those picture eye hangers - just why would I want those?  Simple - they're as useful as any other tack, but the ones I have are actually kind of old, so they are pretty heavy.  If I needed a way to keep something up off of the ground, I can push one into a wall, tree or any surface that would hold it, and then use the hole to hang something from.  It's not a totally common item, but it's not uncommon at all either.  It's just never been considered for use in this context before as far as I'm aware.  But, I think it could be helpful to MacGyver all kind of handy things.  And with a pair of them, can string things up between them.  What?  Who knows...if I knew I would have arranged not to be wherever I might actually need them! 

Step 4: Calling Attention to Yourself

REASON FOR INCLUSION - I'd think it was obvious, but in an emergency, if someone is looking for you, you want to be able to get their attention to help them find you.  You can make noise with the whistle, and you can signal pretty far away with a laser pointer, especially in the dark.

Parts in this step -

Aluminum whistle on beaded chain

Small laser pointer

Step 5: Notes, Clips & Tape

REASON FOR INCLUSION - The ability to take or leave a note is valuable, so you need to be able to both write one, and leave one somewhere.  Why 2 writing instruments?  Mostly because I needed somewhere to be able to put both duct tape and aluminum tape, and if I had to choose only 1 it would be the space pen, but then there are also uses for the pencil as well.  Paperclips, and safety pins?  You can do anything from eject a SIM card tray on your iPhone to fixing a broken bra strap and many things in between.  I have an affinity for aluminum tape, and duct tape is renowned for its numerous uses. 

Parts for this step:

Pill Pouch
2x2 Post It Notes
2 Medium Safety Pins
2 Small Safety Pins
3 Large Brass Paperclips
2 Funky Rectangle Paperclips
2 squares of UGlu

Put the post-its, clips, UGlu, paperclips and safety pins into the pill pouch.  Use the magnet (on the top above the "zip" part of the bag) to adhere this packet to the "roof" of your tin.

I precut 2 1'x8" strips of the aluminum tape.  The backing is still ON the tape.  Wind carefully around the body of your pen.  I used a tiny piece of scotch tape to keep the rolls closed after rolling, since the adhesive side still has the paper backing on it.

I used about a foot and a half of duct tape.  The best way to roll onto the pencil is to stick at least 2 inches of the front end of the tape firmly onto the edge of your desk, table or other flat surface, and then unroll the length you want.  Use a scissors to cut off what will be the bottom part of your roll.  I don't recommend tearing the duct tape for this.  The rough edges and strings can make the roll lumpy and uneven.  Cutting with a scissors makes it easier to get a neat edge and a clean roll.

Once you've cut your tape, take the end that you just cut and carefully and evenly place around your pencil.  You really want to be choosy about the positioning, and ensure that it is level and actually stuck on before you start to roll.  When you're ready, then extend the tape all the way out, keeping your entire length taut and roll evenly while keeping tension on the tape.  The tension is what is going to give you a clean roll that you will actually be able to UN-ROLL later.  If you don't do this with care, you're just going to wind up with a lump mess, rather than a useable roll.  When you get to the end of your roll, use the scissors again to cut a clean edge to finish the roll.

I chose the Fisher Space Pen because it can handle all kinds of extremes, including being able to write upside down, under water or in space. (Hence the name...)  It's also a small size, which makes it quite easy to be able to pack into a tin.  At $18 it's the most expensive thing in the tin, but it's something I already owned and did not go out to buy for this project.  You can choose to leave out a pen, and just use a pencil, or choose another pen, but if you've never tried one of the Space Pens, I'd encourage you to check them out, they're a great EDC item.

On the pencil itself, I cut a regular size pencil more or less in half, and made sure to sharpen it before I started, because once the duct tape has been rolled onto it, it will be harder to fit into a pencil sharpener.  I also ground down about half of the eraser, because I don't think I'll need to erase all that much in an emergency.  But, if I needed to, I could take out the eraser and use the metal on the top of the pencil almost like a hole punch, or use the pliers in the multi tool to crimp the metal and make a gouging tool out of it.  The eraser could also be used like a pin cushion to put the needles or a tack into.

Step 6: First Aid

REASON FOR INCLUSION - With what's here and in other parts of the kit, I could stitch a wound, create a pressure bandage for a serious cut, close smaller cuts, splint fingers, or in my worst nightmare, pull a tooth. 

Parts for this step:

Aluminum Pill Bottle
2 Butterfly wound closures
Oral B Brush Up
Eyeglass Wipe
Emery Board
Alcohol Swabs
Antibacterial Ointment (in Straw)
Toothache Swab
4x4 Gauze Pad

Pretty much everything I chose to put into my particular kit can do more than 1 thing.  The emery board can file fingernails, but also double as sandpaper or splint a finger or toe.  So why don't I have bandages?  Because I already do.  One or 2 little band-aids aren't going to do diddly if you have even a semi-serious cut.  Even with little cuts mine usually wind up peeling up on the edges and only stay on for an hour or 2.  Duct tape by itself is a great bandage, even without gauze.  For a smallish cut, I'd use the alcohol swab and duct tape it right over the cut to keep it clean and protected.  For something more serious, I can use the butterfly closures and some of the gauze or alcohol wipe with the duct tape.  If it's worse, I can stitch it with a needle and thread, then cover with gauze & duct tape.  I can kill pain with what's hidden in my little blue pill box, or stop a mild allergy attack.  You put in what you think will help you the most, or what is most likely to be used.  If I need more bandage material, I can use the glasses wipe, and the brush-up slips over your finger nearly the whole length, so with some tape around it, it's a great bandage for your whole finger, or a way to quickly brush your teeth too. 

Toothache swab?  Why would I think that was SO important to include?  Have you ever lost a filling or cracked a tooth?  It's like a spike through your head until you can get to a dentist, and these little swab things can be used a couple of times before all the medicine in them is gone.  Just use a little of the aluminum tape to close it up again after the first use so it doesn't leak all over the place.

Step 7: Miscellaneous Yet Critical Items

REASON FOR INCLUSION - I'm going to deal with this one by one in this part

Parts for this step:

2 zip ties, medium size
Split Ring
Eyeglass Repair Kit, with break off screws - the break off screws can fix hinges in eyeglass frames, and traditional glasses repair kits can't fix the hinges.
Carabiner Clip
Beaded Chain, necklace size
Single Use super glue
Sewing Bobbin with white thread  (NOTE - I'd like to add one with nylon fishing line in it as well, I just didn't have any right now)
Ziplock Bag
Mirror - a small one like this on a hinge can be combined with glue or tape to a stick or something so that you can see around corners, under a car or weird places like that, or of course for signaling.  Inside a thin protective cover, there is no need to worry about broken glass or sharp corners to cut your self on either.  This one was a freebie at a trade show, but you can find them lots of places for cheap
Expired Driver's License
Emergency Contact Card
Cash - You choice about how much to carry, but I would recommend avoiding large bills, as you may wind up parting with more than you intended because someone doesn't have change, or not being able to get smaller purchases at all with a large bill.

Lots of the small items listed here are self explanatory, like zip ties.  Next to duct tape and aluminum tape, probably the best all round fix-it kind of item.  Same with rubber bands.  The jumbo sized one can hold a ton of stuff, or get wrapped like a tourniquet.  Duct tape combined with zip ties could patch a broken hose in your car to get you off the side of the road and to a service station.

Why would I want to carry an expired driver's license?  Well, in CA, you don't get a new number when you renew your license, so it has my picture on it, and it's a state issued ID.  In a pinch, I could prove who I was, if I was somehow separated from my wallet.  If anything is outdated on the ID, use a sharpie to write current info on the back of the card.  The emergency contact card?  I'd think everyone has one in their wallet, but this is a good place to keep an extra.  You can also put major allergies, blood type or other special medical needs on the card.

If somehow you felt that you were not going to be conscious when rescuers reached you,  (mass casualty emergency or something) you could take your expired DL & emergency contact card, put them in the pill pouch and safety pin it to your shirt, so that if the absolute worst happened to you and you were not able to communicate, you would be identified and your family contacted. 

Why the split ring, carabiner clip and beaded chain necklace?  If there is a serious emergency, this kit is not really pocket friendly - it's just too fat.  BUT - I can take out my whistle and laser pointer, thrown them on the split ring, put that on the chain and keep them around my neck.  Most of the other little items can be disbursed into my pockets, and the rest put into the ziplock bag.  I can even use some of the aluminum tape to reinforce part of the ziplock, use the multi tool to punch a hole through that, and then put the ziplock on the carabiner clip either put that on the chain around my neck or hook it to a belt loop, and easily carry it all with me in a much easier way.

Choosing a multi-tool - UGH!  I have several to choose from, but the one I decided to put in offered me the most benefit in the smallest package.  In the end, the tipper for me was the flashlight in the handle.  It's reasonably bright, and I have a disc covering the battery to prevent it from accidentally being turned on and discharging the battery.  It has pliers, which I felt would provide more usefulness than a scissors (this vs. Leatherman Micra) and it has more tools, but is also twice the size.  But, I didn't need to also put in a flashlight, so the size was a trade off.  The one I have is branded Coast & I think I got it at Office Depot for about $8.

Step 8: Pack It Up!

It actually took me 3 or 4 tries to fit everything in.  Once I did, I carefully wrapped the tin in the ziplock bag, and closed it with rubber bands.  (I also added a couple of strips of blue painters tape to keep the edges down, but make sure that the bag would be undamaged when I took off the tape.

The best suggestion is to keep flat items on the bottom, bulkiest items go in next, and then just fiddle around with everything else until you get it all in.

Step 9: Conclusion

I really tried to choose items that would be able to serve multiple purposes, so that I could maximize usefulness in a minimum of space.  Of course, this kit is what I would find valuable, and may not be right for everyone.  It is not necessarily totally for survival, but can manage most minor emergencies and lend a hand in a serious crisis. 

There are quite a few "survival tins" out there, and it seemed to me that the majority of them are essentially highly similar.  As a result, I also wanted to stretch out a bit, and address some issues that I felt were overlooked in some of them, as well as deal primarily with an urban environment, which is where I spend all of my time.

I hope that I managed to entertain you a little, inform you a little, and maybe make you think that you should use a few of my ideas for your own kits. 

I've entered this in the BE PREPARED contest, so if you have found value in my 'ible, please give me a vote.  :-)

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Finalist in the
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    25 Discussions


    2 years ago

    Excellent. Thasks love the ideas and the real day to day focus. ☺


    3 years ago

    you are really practical. good news--dollar tree stores now have a chinese space pen for (wait for it) a dollar!


    3 years ago

    Good instructible. If you dont have an expired drivers liscense, you could also use an old student id card (which would at least put a face to a name) or as another commentor suggested, make a copy of current id. On the other hand, if you've never had an id for whatever reason, you could print out your picture and the sort of stuff you would find on an id onto the sort of paper index cards are made of, cut it out to about the right size, and cover both sides with packing tape - at least you could prove you didnt make up a name on the spot since you probably wouldnt be able to make something like that in a disaster situation.


    3 years ago on Introduction

    You've got a lot of great ideas in here I hadn't thought of before. :-) I'm in L.A. too, so emergency is either man-made or massive earthquake; making the dangers injury and sun/heat. Almost none of the survival kits make sense for my (urban/desert) situation. (I'm going to need water, medical supplies, water, shelter from the sun, and water. In that order :-)) The ID thing is brilliant (i.e., "I should have thought of that!") and the emphasis on urban-useful (paper clips, tacks, notes) vs wilderness-useful (fishing lines and compasses) helpful. Thanks!

    Amelia makes stuff

    4 years ago

    This is a great kit. I love the ideas, and the explanations are great. This deserves my like XD

    1 reply

    Thanks. It's nice to know that even a long time after I wrote it, that people still look it up, read it, and find it relevant. :-)


    5 years ago

    Finding nemo is THE best movie in the world!!!!!!!

    Pretty good, Just like to say when you are really starving you'll eat the koi & their pet poodle too. :-)

    Pretty good, Just like to say when you are really starving you'll eat the koi & their pet poodle too. :-)


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Congratulations on being a finalist in the be prepare contest!


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Very good. If My digital hadn't broken I'd show you pixs of my kit. But it's a major earthquake kit made of small catagory kits. ie: toilitries, cooking, washing-up, washing clothes, etc. I'll have to do an 'ible someday.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    This is a very good mini urban kit, it follows the philosophy you put forward in the intro, the one about keeping it tailored for your use case. I was also a bit confused about the trivet but I get it now after reading the comments.

    1 reply

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Thank heavens for comments! Lots of times I've found more helpful info in comments than in some 'ibles. Thanks for taking the time to check out my Instructable!


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Very Good Urban Kit, better than many others I've seen around !!

    I totally agree with you about the uselessness for a fishing kit in an urban environment (and most of the time in a wilderness one too).

    I don't get 100% of the magneti cork trivet

    In my kit I have COPIES of ID, a lot more zipties and elastic bands.
    You might also consider adding a spool of dental floss as a durable strong line for multiple uses. I also have a small pry-bar with multiple functions, Bus tickets and printed phone numbers of friends and family

    6 replies

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    I knew the "trivet" was going to throw a few people off. It serves a few functions. Like, if the power goes off at work, but you boss won't let you go home, because they're thinking it won't stay off, but you'd like to be able to see a bit. Light your emergency candle, and put the trivet under it so you don't burn your desk.

    Second, I wanted somewhere to store the tacks and needles that was on the top of the kit, rather than inside the box part because I was concerned that I'd wind up poking myself (which I did several time when the needle rolled to the side of the tin) so I decided to put them in the cork, then decided that the cork worked best on the top, of the tin not the bottom. Hence the magnet, so it sticks to the top of the tin. Also, it now will magnetically attach to the bottom of the tin, so if I needed to carry the candle for some reason I'm, not as likely to burn my hand while doing so.

    There's now way for me to also put in a pry bar, but if that's your preference to the multi tool, then I strongly encourage everyone to use the tool they feel will give them the most benefit.

    The printed phone numbers is a good idea, bus tickets in LA wouldn't help me much. Our mass-transit system is non-existent. But, again if it has you to YOU, then I would encourage that for your kit.

    Thanks for taking the time to comment, I appreciate it!


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Good grief, I need an edit button!

    To correct above - I have NO way to fit in a pry bar...

    And, if bus ticket has USE to you...


    Floss isn't a bad idea, I carry it in larger kits, but I also usually have it in my desk at work and at home, as well as in the usual places at home. I had to make some choices here, and went with the thread, since there is MILES of it on the bobbin, when I wound it with my sewing machine. I can double, triple or quadruple it up if I needed stronger or wax it myself with the candle, so I personally went with the thread.


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Good points
    Anyway I meant the floss to replace the cotton thread in the same bobbin as it is stronger. You can find it in a single bobbin as a refil sometimes


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    EmcySquare, thanks so much for sharing your thoughts! I enjoy the exchange of information, and for readers, it is always informative to hear the thoughts of more than a single person when they are deciding how to put a kit together for themselves.

    For me personally, floss would not help me nearly as much as thread. I chose white on purpose as well, since I actually checked the buttons on many of my shirts, and even the colored shirts seem to be sewn on with white thread. I'm so much more likely to lose a button on my shirt, or need to repair a seam, or need to fix a torn hem. I don't believe that floss would be a better tool for me in those circumstances. Additionally, the eyes of the needles I have are too small to accept floss even if I wanted to use that instead. I'm sure I could find a needle with a larger eye if I looked for one, possibly even large enough to get floss through it. I also don't think that waxed floss would go through my sewing machine very well to get wound onto the bobbin. I suppose I could wind it by hand, but I probably wouldn't.

    For anyone who is looking to make their personal kit more towards the "survival" side, and is not thinking of sewing on lost buttons, floss may very well be a better utilization of space than thread. It just wouldn't make as much sense for what I would use it for on a day-to-day basis.

    I checked out the link you put in. It's too bad that that site does not tell you where you can purchase such a tool. It certainly looks handy! :-)


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    About the Floss:
    You are right, thread is the way to go for sewing purpouses, whyle I use floss for other (more hardware / survival oriented) repairs. My sewing kit looks a lot like your "half match book": I got 3 needles (one is magnetized so to be used as a compass should I ever need one) with a yard or so of white, red and black cotton thread already in the neddle eye.

    About the Prybar:
    I made those prybars myself and sent it to Jalapeno Gal (the author) for a review. I'm planning to start producing them on a more resious way, maybe one day soon I'l start selling them on my website.


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Now I get it better
    My pray bar is 7cm (less than 3inches) long: it's the one you can find here:


    "made in Italy" ;-)