Sometimes you can find yourself in difficult situations where you don’t have the proper supplies or equipment to deal with the emergency in a standardized fashion. To help you get through some of these tough times, sometimes all you need is a creative and innovative mind. But, if you think that your creative mind will get stumped when a difficult situation arises, it can be beneficial to have a list of survival hacks up your sleeve. Having these tips and tricks can certainly help you out in times of trouble. This article provides you with a list of 23 household item hacks that you can use if you find yourself in any survival situation, whether you’re out in the wild or at home.
1. Steel Wool and 9 Volt Battery Fire Starter
If you find yourself in a pinch and need to start a fire, you can easily do so with a pad of extra fine steel wool and a 9V battery. First, place the firewood around the steel wool and the kindling on top. Then rub the protruding end of the 9V battery briskly along the steel wool. Apply friction on all edges until the steel wool sparks.
2. Alcohol Swab Fire Starter
A quick way to start a fire is by digging into your first aid kit and grabbing alcohol swabs. The alcohol ignites quickly and can hold a flame long enough for your build a larger fire. It’s useful to pack along extra alcohol swabs in case you find yourself in a situation where you need to start a fire as quickly as possible.
3. Cotton Ball or Pad Fire Starter
Another survival hack for fire starter is by soaking cotton balls or pads in petroleum jelly or paraffin wax. On any wilderness adventure these will be convenient to have so can easily jump start a fire. All you need to do is throw one in with your kindling and firewood and light them on fire.
4. Dryer Lint Tinder
Sometimes finding dry tinder in the woods can be challenging. For any camping or backpacking trip be sure to empty out the lint from your dryer and bring it along to use as tinder. You can even put the lint inside an empty toilet paper roll to make it a tinder bomb. They provide you with a sure way to get a flame going for a bigger fire.
5. Corn Chip Tinder
If you don’t have dryer lint, cotton balls or alcohol swabs handy, you can always use chips to help you make a small quick flame. Chips made with corn will be the most flammable. One of the most common brands of chips used as tinder are Doritos. Corn chips are not only delicious, but also very practical in a survival situation where you need to start a fire.
6. Metal Can Alcohol Stove
You can easily make your own alcohol stove using a metal can (food can or from a soft drink such as Coke). First you need to make sure that both ends are cut open. On one end of the can you cut ~2 centimeter/0.8 inch slits that are spaced out evenly along the circumference of the can. Then fold in every other tab inwards. The remaining tabs that were not folded will be the legs of the stove. Then you place a roll of toilet paper into the can, soak it in alcohol and set it on fire.
7. Terra Cotta Pot Heater
If you’re at home and find that all of your heating systems are broken, you can easily make your own mini heating system. All you need to do is light some candles and put an upside down terra cotta pot over top. Terra cotta is a great conductor and can radiate the heat it collects from the candles. Make sure that there is a hole in the bottom of your terra cotta pot to allow the air to flow.
8. Crayon Candles
As an emergency light source you can use crayons as candles. They can be easily waxed on to flat surfaces (like you would do with regular candles) or be wedged between two rocks. Light both the tip of the crayon and the paper label (which essentially acts as the wick). A standard sized crayon should stay lit for about 30 minutes.
9. Turpentine Waterproof Matches
Instead of buying waterproof matches, you can just waterproof them yourself with turpentine. All you need is a few tablespoons of turpentine in a small bowl or glass to soak your matches in. You can take them out after 5 minutes and spread then out to dry on some newspaper. They should take about 20 minutes or so to completely dry.
10. Tic Tac Match Case
To keep your matches protected from moisture and other outdoor elements, you can house them in an empty Tic Tac case. They fit regular sized matches perfectly and will do a much better job at keeping them dry than their original cardboard box. You can also cut a piece of the striking panel and place it in the Tic Tac case with the matches.
11. Milk Jug Lantern
Why go out and buy a camping lantern when you could just make one out of an empty plastic milk jug. All you need to do is put your headlamp around the milk jug (like you would put it on your head) with the light facing inward. The light diffuses through the plastic and provides you with a lantern that’s lightweight and portable.
12. Glow Sticks for Emergency Signalling
Battery powered lighting devices such as headlamps or flashlights can run out of juice when you least expect it. Glow sticks are convenient to bring along when you’re hiking or backpacking because they can serve as an emergency light. They can also be set up around your campsite so that you can easily navigate your way back to base camp at night.
13. Foil Battery Upgrade
Let’s say you needed to use AA batteries but you only had AAA batteries. One easy trick to convert your smaller battery into a larger one is by using aluminum foil. You can wrap foil around the ends of the AAA batteries so that they can fit in a AA battery slot.
14. Pop Can Tab Fishing Hook
In a survival situation, you may find that you’ll have to hunt, fish or forage for your own food. If you don’t have a fishing hook with you, a pop can tab (from a Coke, Sprite, Pepsi, etc.) can be made into an adequate hook. Using a blade, snippers or scissors, cut the center of the top portion of the tab and then cut the center of the side portion. This will turn the pop can tab into a J-shaped fish hook. Make sure the bottom of the J is sharp so you can easily attach bait. Then tie dental floss or sturdy string to the top of the J.
15. Wash Cloth Water Filter
In a survival situation where you don’t have a water filter or purifier, you can filter out some sediment and debris by using a wash cloth. First, put some dirty water in a container. Dunk the wash cloth in the dirty water until it is fully absorbed with water. Then wring out the water from the cloth into a clean, empty container.
16. Leaf and Sewing Needle Compass
If you don’t have a compass with you, but you need help navigating your way, you can quickly make a compass in a few easy steps. First, put the water in a container (such as a bowl), then place a leaf on the surface of the water. Make sure that the leaf doesn’t sink or get wet. Then rub the needle on your clothing or hair to magnetize it and place it on top of the floating leaf. It should align with the Earth’s magnetic field and point your northwards.
17. Condom Slingshot
Slingshots can be used for a number of different things, such as hunting, scaring away animals, or for target practice. If you find yourself in need of a slingshot you can always make one using a Y-shaped branch and a condom. All you need to do it tie the condom on each fork of the branch, grab some ammo, and start firing away.
18. Dryer Sheet Insect Repellant
If you’ve run out of insect repellant or citronella candles, you can always use dryer sheets to keep the insects away. If you rub them all over your body they can mask your scent and make you smell like the chemicals on dryer sheets that repel insects. They’re also very light weight and easy to pack for any outdoor adventure.
19. Super Glue Stitches
Open wounds are a common first aid situation you’ll have to deal with, whether you’re out in the wild or at home. If you need a quick stitching job done, super glue should do the trick. All you need to do is clean around the wound, pinch the laceration closed with glue, and hold it until it dries. Super glue is worth storing in your first aid kit because it’s small, easy to carry and a handy thing to have.
20. Slings Made with Clothing
Slings can be improvised with any piece of cloth that’s stretchy and pliable. You can use anything from bandanas, hoodies, t-shirts, blankets, and even tarps. If a piece of clothing or cloth is too small you can easily tie other items together. Or if your makeshift sling item is too big can you can cut it to an appropriate size.
21. Garbage Bag Rain Ponchos
The main purpose of garbage bags is to house our waste. But, if you find yourself unprepared for the rain, you can always use a garbage bag as a rain poncho. Just cut holes for your face and arms near the bottom of the bag. Then you can slip it on and stay protected from the rain.
22. Anything-That’s-Reflective Signals
One way to signal that you’re distressed or need help is by reflecting light. You might not have a mirror with you, but there are other items that can be used to signal for help. Basically, anything that shimmers in the sunlight can be used as a signalling device. You can use a wide range of items, such as CDs, anything made out of polished metal and jewelry.
23. Food Can Toilet Paper Roll Dispenser
If you want to keep your toilet paper protected from the outdoor elements or disguised from your buddies, you can make a toilet paper roll dispenser using a food can. First, find a cylindrical food can that’s big enough to fit a roll of toilet paper. Then cut a slit along the full length of the can and make a small flap (this will allow you to feed the toilet paper through). Put your toilet paper roll inside, then voila, you have yourself a toilet paper roll dispenser/disguise.
Now that you’ve read over this list of household item hacks, hopefully you feel more prepared for survival situations that can catch you by surprise. You can never predict exactly when or where an emergency will take place, so having these survival hacks up your sleeve can be useful. When it comes to survival, preparedness is key, but in some cases adaptability will be your saving grace. Sometimes you have to make do with the materials and supplies that you have readily available to you. Hopefully this list has also inspired you to think of other creative ways to use household items for emergency situations. If you’re curious to learn more survival hacks, be sure to follow the links provided in the article and research other web pages and videos. With survival hacks, the possibilities are endless.