While everyone should have an emergency survival kit on hand, many of us may feel like we don’t have the time to research what needs to go into a survival kit or the energy to put a kit together. But a little bit of ingenuity can go a long way in repurposing common items for survival use. Here are a few everyday items that can be used to help you survive if you’re ever lost in the wilderness or stuck at your house without power.
1. Dental Floss
Dental floss can be used as inexpensive cordage to bind branches to create an improvised shelter, or as fishing line to try to catch fish in a stream. So if you don’t keep bales of rope handy, just use dental floss as a stopgap.
While smartphone compasses may not be the most accurate, they’re still better than nothing if you’re not carrying a standard magnetic compass. And even if you can’t make phone calls in the wilderness, the signals your phone is sending out can help rescuers find you. Once your phone loses power, stay put. Rescuers will zero in on the last place from which your phone was signaling. You can use the glass screen of your dead phone as a makeshift signaling mirror to catch sun rays and signal your location to rescuers.
Many people may think that bandanas are of little use, or just a fashion statement. But a brightly-colored bandana can help rescuers see you in the wilderness. A bandana can also be placed over your mouth and nose to help you breath in dusty conditions, or to filter debris out of water. And in a pinch, a bandana can be used to tie splints or as a makeshift tourniquet.
4. Garbage Bags
If you’re out in the wilderness you’ll want to take garbage bags with you to pack out your trash. But bring a few extra just in case. If you’re caught in a freak rainstorm or snowstorm you can turn a garbage bag into a windbreaker to keep yourself dry.
Bootlaces can also be used as cordage to tie together branches to make a temporary shelter. Hopefully you’ll have brought extra bootlaces just in case yours break, but in a pinch it’s better to use your single pair of laces rather than remain exposed to the elements.
6. Hand Sanitizer
Hand sanitizer is mostly alcohol, so it’s highly flammable. If you find yourself needing to start a fire, you can resort to using your hand sanitizer to help catch a spark or to make leaves, pine needles, or other tinder more flammable.
7. Soda Can
Most people won’t take cans of soda into the wild, but if you do, you can turn them into makeshift survival items. The cans can be used to collect water to keep yourself hydrated. And the tabs can be formed into crude fish hooks. They may not be as good as real fish hooks, but they’re better than nothing.
8. Duct Tape
There’s just about nothing that duct tape can’t be used for. Use it to tie together branches to make a temporary shelter. Or use it as a makeshift bandage in case you don’t have a first aid kit on you. The possibilities are endless.
9. Car Keys
Many people know how to use car keys to open packages in the absence of a box cutter. But keys can also be used as saws to cut small branches and twigs. You likely won’t be able to cut wood to create a shelter, but you can use keys to cut small pieces of wood for kindling and fire starting.
If you find yourself at home with no power and no source of light, you can rely on a can of Crisco to create a makeshift candle. Stick a candle wick down the center of a can of Crisco and you’ll have a candle that’s supposed to last for up to 45 days.