No matter whether you hear the tornado sirens or an order comes to evacuate for some other reason, there is a moment of panic that can send every thought from your mind. Even if you have a fully prepared bug out bag, or have made all kinds of plans, stress levels can rise to the point where you may aimlessly wander about the house or start packing things because everything else is forgotten. This guide is intended to show you seven common items (excluding the obvious knives, mirrors and other more common sense every day carry tools) that you may already be inclined to carry with you or have on hand at all times. If you can find ways to include the adaptations listed in each section, you will vastly improve your chances of survival until you have a chance to retrieve other items.
As long as you are wearing one, you will already have valuable survival tool right on your back. Here are just a few things you can do with T-shirts, plus simple modifications that will make them even more useful:
- double or triple the fabric to remove dirt and debris from the water. You can also sew in a layer of cotton and nylon. Four layers of cotton sari cloth can filter almost all cholera bacteria while nylon can remove parasite eggs.
- add a bib of 2 – 4 layers of tightly woven silk to the inner front of the T-shirt to get better results when using it as an air mask.
- Tear into strips to start fires, make tourniquets, bandage wounds, and tie items together.
- Use the hems to hold other important survival goods. Waterproof mini packets, embroidery thread, and other soft items you might forget about can all be placed in the hems.
- If you are concerned about tear gas or pepper spray, do not assume that you can simply wet the shirt and prevent burns and irritation. Your best bet is to sew in a thin rubber shield within the front bib (see above) of the shirt. Even though this will not protect your eyes, it can still shield your nose and lungs from some of the noxious gases.
By themselves, push pens look entirely innocent, yet they can make a more diverse weapon with just a few modifications:
- Add a LED light and battery to the trigger mechanism to create a makeshift flashlight. You can also rub the battery with steel wool to create sparks for a fire.
- Use the barrel to store B.Bs, bits of cotton balls (for filtering water), and other tiny objects.
- Even if you do not modify the pen, it can still be used to poke out an attacker’s eyes, or shoved elsewhere to create a diversion. When combined with specific maneuvers, a pen can be used to kill in several ways, however, it may take several minutes or more.
- Attach a poison-tipped needle to the empty end of the inkwell.
- Drill holes in the upper and lower section, then run a rubber band through to make a slingshot. Do not make the holes too big or other ammo may slip through when using the pen as a spring propelled gun.
- Create canisters that will discharge liquids when the trigger pushes against the canister. You can add just about any liquid of interest, including flammable ones.
- Once you have a suitable model that covers the widest possible range of weapons and tactical lighting, see if you can obtain a polymer base to form into a push pen, and then strengthen each area with other materials.
Metal Business Card Holder
Simply rub some steel wool across the metal surface to make it shiny enough for signaling and starting fires. If you get into the habit of using a metal business card holder as your debit/credit card wallet, you can tape sewing needles inside and other small objects. Don’t forget to include a plastic card and a credit card tool kit. Put a few rubber bands around the wallet, and you will have yet another handy resource on hand to help you get through an emergency.
A metal business card holder is also the perfect place to store step by step instructions. Don’t remember how to make an alcohol stove from a tin can? Write out these, and other instructions and tuck them away in the card holder. Mini hand drawn maps, directions to different locations, and other guides can also be of immense value. If you laminate these cards, they will also be waterproof and durable enough to last for years on end.
Embroidery Thread and Sewing Needle
Even though some people recommend dental floss as an emergency survival material embroidery thread is much better for the following reasons:
- you can use it for everything you would use dental floss for
- the threads are easy to separate, so you can get the exact thickness that you need
- embroidery thread is easy to braid together if you need to make a stronger fishing line or snare
- it can be used to sew everything from wounds to clothes
- cheaper than dental floss
- Much easier to add inside the hem of a T-shirt or any other garment.
- Aside from sewing, needles can be used as weapons, for scraping dirt out of tiny areas, and as a compass needle (when rubbed across a magnet).
You do not need to spend a fortune on travel sized mini-packets, or get stuck with paper wrappings that may break apart or be ruined before you use the contents inside. To make mini-packets, follow these steps:
- Take a drinking straw and cut it to about 1 ¾”. This will give you just about enough room for a single serving or use. You can also use larger or smaller lengths depending on the material inside.
- Squeeze one end of the straw so that it is sealed. Pass this end over a lit candle so that the plastic melts.
- Place contents inside the straw.
- Seal the other open end of the packet with heat from the candle.
- For flammables, leave extra room in the straw, wipe excess away, and use tongs to hold the packet while sealing. Place the candle in the sink and remove all other flammables from the area. Avoid working near electric sockets and wires. Wear fireproof gear until you get the knack for each substance.
Even though there are literally dozens of things you can fit into waterproof mini packets, seven of them are at the top of my personal list.
- Steel Wool – absolutely necessary if you are going to make a polished surface for starting a fire. They are also very important for removing dirt and debris from other items that you may find useful as you go through the crisis. You can also use scouring pads as long as they don’t have soap on them.
- Sugar – sugar packets are important for keeping up your electrolytes, and also for wound care. Adding some sugar to an open wound will reduce the risk of infection and also help it to heal faster.
- Salt – also very important for managing electrolytes. Salt can also be used as an anti-bacterial. Do not add to drinking water, as it will cause your body to flush out water faster.
- Pain Killer Packets – aspirin and other anti-inflammatory medications are very important for pain management and dealing with injuries that cause swelling. If you do not have ice on hand, these drugs can reduce the risk of more serious impairment. Write the expiration date on each packet so that you know when to discard it and replace with new ones.
- Oils – vegetable oil can be used for lubrication and also as a fuel for fire. Include packets of herbal oils for medicinal needs. Just make sure to replace the oil packets every 6 – 12 months (depending on the oil type) so that they do not lose their potency.
- Rubbing Alcohol – can be used as a fuel and also to disinfect your hands. Some people recommend hand sanitizers, however, there is too much controversy about whether or not they actually work as well as advertised. Rubbing alcohol, on the other hand, is tried, true, and just about foolproof.
- Water (in full or half sized straws) – even a few drops of water can be priceless when it will take hours to find water and purify it for drinking needs. Replace these every 4 – 6 months to ensure freshness.
Can of Fruit Juice
A can of fruit juice can provide more nutrients and just as much liquid as a can of soda. You can also use the empty can and pull ring to make a number of important tools:
- the pull ring can be made into a fish hook
- cut the can in half and use the two parts to make a rocket stove or alcohol burning stove
- store away fishing gear, snare lines, and other small items.
- polish the bottom and use it as a fire starter or signal mirror
- make into a cup for cooking or drinking water
- wrap duct tape or electrical tape around the can so that you have it on hand in time of need.
Your Main Keyring
If you are always in the habit of keeping your keys with you, a few simple additions to the ring can give you as many vital tools as the T-Shirt.
- Even without modification, you can use house keys already on the ring to scrape items clean, cut tape, and act as gouges to rake an attacker.
- If you can’t locate or afford a credit card tool kit, go ahead and shape some keys into screwdrivers and other tools that may be of use.
- Sharpen at least one key into a point that will poke a hole in metal cans.
- Take another key and create a serrated knife edge or even a flat edge for cutting. Just remember to put a leather guard or some other material over that key so you don’t cut yourself on it.
- Keep a few extra keys that you can bend into hooks for fasteners
- Make a paracord monkey fist and add it to the keyring. You will have a weapon plus a valuable source of rope to meet many emergency needs.
- Attach a few feathers that can be used as fishing lures.
- Add a small magnet
“It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark” (Howard Ruff), and there wasn’t an actual crisis when you made all your prepping plans. A fire or many other situations may leave you in a position where you don’t have time to get to your bug out bag. If you are unable to get to your vehicle, or another location where you have every day carry supplies, there are still household items that may be of use to you. No matter whether you prepare these items ahead of time, or make it a point to carry them with you, they can save your life in more ways than expected. With a few modifications, the above seven items can go even further and give you an even better chance of surviving most major and minor crisis situations.
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Featured image by Jennifer C.