Survival Hacks: 37 Ways to Use Everyday Items in Emergency Situations

37 Handy Survival Hacks

In a survival situation, everyday items that you might take for granted can become invaluable tools to help you stay alive. From plastic water bottles to duct tape, here are 37 handy survival hacks that you can use in emergency situations.

  1. Water bottles can be used to start a fire. Fill a plastic water bottle with water and use its curved shape to focus sunlight into a beam that can ignite tinder. You can also boil water in a plastic water bottle.
  2. Ball up some aluminum foil to fill the gap in the battery compartment when you run out of AA batteries. This will allow you to use AAA batteries in their place.
  3. You can make a makeshift raft out of a tarp or a duty rain poncho and small, lightweight branches. Wrap the ends up and bind the entire raft with paracord or rope.
  4. Crayola crayons make excellent emergency candles, with a burn time of around 10 minutes.
  5. If you run out of candles, stick a wick (such as a strand from a natural fibers mop head) into a can of Crisco to create a candle that will burn continuously for 30 days.
  6. Cut a side out of a beer or soda can and place a votive candle inside the bottom. The shiny interior of the can will reflect the candle’s light, making it brighter.
  7. Use reading glasses to focus and concentrate a beam of sunlight to easily ignite tinder and start a fire. A lens from a binocular or camera can also do the same thing.
  8. Convert large coffee or Milo tin cans into hobo stoves by punching holes in the sides and bottom, filling with tinder, and placing a mess tin or small pot on top to cook a meal.
  9. You can make simple fishhooks by cutting the metal on a soda can pull tab with a pair of scissors or pliers.
  10. Dental floss can be used for sewing thread and also cordage.
  11. Cotton balls, dryer lint, and tampons can be soaked with petroleum jelly and used as emergency tinder. You can also use other products such as natural beeswax, melted paraffin wax, or triple antibiotic ointment as accelerants.
  12. Large contractor-grade garbage bags can be used as tarps, flotation devices, and rain ponchos.
  13. Make a convenient toilet paper dispenser by placing the TP inside a coffee can and dispensing it via a slit down the side of the can.
  14. Duct tape is a versatile tool that can be used for thousands of purposes.
  15. Super glue can be used to close small wounds requiring stitches, but be sure not to get the glue inside the wound.
  16. Cable ties are another no-brainer and have heaps of uses.
  17. Convert your headlamp into a lantern by turning it inward and using the band to hold it in place around a 5-gallon jug filled with water.
  18. You can fashion an improvised and super-effective spearhead from an old circuit board and lash it to the end of a sturdy pole.
  19. Replace your boot or shoelaces with 550 FireCord, which will give you cordage and fire-making capabilities.
  20. Empty Tic-Tac containers make great spice containers for bug-out bag mess kits.
  21. An Altoid-style tin can be filled with corrugated cardboard and lit as a heat source.
  22. If you have a flat tire, fill the hole with grass until you reach your destination.
  23. Did you know that Doritos and other kinds of chips are highly flammable? These can be used as kindling in an emergency situation.
  24. Duct tape a mini Ferro rod to the inside of
  25. your wallet. You can use your chosen EDC blade to strike it to start a fire.
  26. Keep an extra $50 note in the credit card slip of your smartphone case. Next time you run out of cash or forget your wallet, at least you have some on hand.
  27. Rice, beans, and lentils can be stored in large plastic soft drink bottles instead of bags to keep them dry and reduce the risk of spillage.
  28. A couple of party poppers and jute twine make a great campsite security warning system.
  29. If you need to open a can but don’t have a can opener available, simply rub it back and forth on a smooth rock slab, concrete, or pavers and it will open up.
  30. An emergency water filter can be created with just a knife, a plastic water bottle, coarse stone, fine stone, coarse sand, charcoal, rubber bands, and a couple of pieces of cloth.
  31. If stranded out in the wilderness with your vehicle, you can use one of your car mirrors to signal for help.
  32. Wrap a good length of duct tape around your EDC Bic lighter and survival tin. You can do the same with an old credit card and keep it inside your survival tin.
  33. Polish the lid of your Altoids survival tin to use it as an effective signaling mirror.
  34. Use your hands to determine how many hours of daylight are remaining. Each finger equals 15 minutes of daylight time remaining, so one hand would equal an hour.
  35. To determine which way is North in the Southern Hemisphere, point 12 at the sun and bisect that and the hour hand. The imaginary line between 12 and the hour hand is directional north. To use this technique in the Northern Hemisphere, do the opposite and point the hour hand at the sun.
  36. For maximum covertness, replace the metal zipper pulls on your emergency bags with paracord zipper pulls.
  37. To extract a splinter, fill a wide-mouthed bottle to the brim and press the affected part of the hand tightly against the mouth of the bottle. The suction will pull down the splinter and the steam will soon draw out the splinter.
  38. To waterproof standard matches, heat up some paraffin wax and pour it into a matchbox. When you need a match, simply scrape off the paraffin from the tip and strike away!
  39. In conclusion, these survival hacks are proof that with a little creativity and resourcefulness, you can turn everyday items into life-saving tools in emergency situations. Whether you’re camping, hiking, or facing a disaster, keep these hacks in mind to help you stay safe and prepared.


  1. What are some other items that can be used as emergency candles?
  • In addition to Crayola crayons and Crisco, you can also use a stick of butter or a can of tuna as an emergency candle.
  1. Can I use any type of aluminum foil to replace AA batteries with AAA batteries?
  • It’s best to use heavy-duty aluminum foil to ensure proper conductivity.
  1. How can I make sure my makeshift raft is sturdy enough to hold my weight?
  • Test it in shallow water first to make sure it can handle your weight before attempting to cross deeper water.
  1. Are there any other products I can use as accelerants for emergency tinder besides petroleum jelly?
  • Yes, you can also use natural beeswax, melted paraffin wax, or triple antibiotic ointment as accelerants.
  1. Can I use any type of plastic soft drink bottle to store rice, beans, and lentils?
  • It’s best to use large plastic bottles with secure screw-on caps to ensure they stay dry and don’t spill.
  1. Can I use any type of stone to create an emergency water filter?
  • It’s best to use stones that are naturally porous, such as sandstone or limestone, to ensure they effectively filter the water.
  1. How can I make sure my emergency raft is stable when crossing a body of water?
  • Pile the branches in the center of the tarp or rain poncho and make sure they are evenly distributed. Bind the entire makeshift raft with paracord or rope to keep it sturdy.
  1. Can I use any type of cordage for dental floss?
  • While dental floss can be used as cordage, it’s best to use actual cordage such as paracord or bank line for more heavy-duty tasks.
  1. Can I use any type of metal for making simple fishhooks?
  • It’s best to use aluminum from a soda can pull tab, as other types of metal may be too thick or too brittle.
  1. Can I use any type of plastic bottle for creating an improvised water filter?
  • It’s best to use a plastic water bottle with a wide mouth and sturdy construction to ensure it can withstand the weight of the filter materials and the pressure of the water.

Kevin Noyes

Hey there, I'm Kevin, a former infantry soldier in the U.S. Army. I've been through it all - from grueling training to intense combat situations. Now, I'm here to spill the beans on survival. None of that dry, textbook stuff - I'm talking real-world, practical tips to help you conquer any wild situation. From setting up camp to keeping your cool, we'll tackle it all together! So let's dive in and get ready to rock the survival game!

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