Disaster can strike anywhere. At any time.

Just imagine that disaster catches you at work. Or at a friend’s house. Or when you drop your kid off at school. Or when you’re eating an incredible 15th-anniversary dinner with your lovely wife at a nice restaurant.

And no matter how many years you’ve spent refining the contents of your bug out bag – it’s worthless if it’s not with you…  

And you’ll need to make due with what you have.

Creativity and quick thinking are two essential traits of a survivalist. But as time is of the essence, it’s better to have some emergency tips & tricks already stored up in the back of your mind.

So, let me tell you about some weirdly versatile items that you can quickly grab before retreating to your bug out spot or another safe location.

  1. Aluminum foil

Found in almost any household or restaurant, aluminum foil can prove useful in a handful of disaster scenarios. You can use it to start a fire (watch a how-to video here), to cook food in an improvised aluminum pan or even to catch food with.

Yes, really.

By that, I mean that aluminum foil can be used as bait for fish. The reflective surface of the aluminum foil will attract more fish and you’ll have more chances to avoid going hungry AND cook a delicious dinner.

When SHTF, it’s vital to be up to date with the state of the nation… or of the whole world in the case of a global disaster. But if your radio can’t find a signal, wrapping aluminum foil on the antennas might actually help you get better reception.

And finally, you can also use aluminum foil to make a Faraday cage to protect yourself and your electronics from an EMP (electromagnetic pulse).

  1. Carabiners

These little hooks can be extremely helpful for day-to-day living in the wilderness. You can use a carabiner to hook things to your bug out bag, which saves space to add something else inside.

You can also use it to hang your clothes or a “No Trespassing” sign to protect your living area. And if someone doesn’t heed your sign, you can also use a carabiner as emergency brass knuckles or an impromptu slingshot.

While not a lot of people have carabiners handy, I think any survivalist would benefit from having two or three carabiners around the house and attached to their bag.

  1. Coffee filters

It’s admittedly a strange item to carry around on a daily basis, but a coffee filter can actually be a lifesaver in a disaster situation. Again, if you’re in someone’s home when SHTF, you can quickly grab a few of these because they’ll almost certainly prove themselves useful later.

Here are a few versatile uses for coffee filters:

  • You can pre-filter water to get rid of sticks, leaves, rocks or other sediments from a lake or river;
  • You can use one as a disposable bowl for food;
  • When nothing better is available, you can cut up the filter and use it as a bandage for a wound;
  • You can start a fire;
  • You can use it as emergency toilet paper;
  • And of course, you can boost your energy by simply using it to make coffee.

Coffee filters can also be extremely useful for keeping your bug out spot clean by using them as rags. They take almost no space at all in a backpack, so they’re the perfect addition for a bug out bag that’s already filled to the brim.

  1. Safety pins

I recently read this article on everyday survival items and was pleasantly surprised to see they included safety pins. I’m a big fan of these tiny hooks and I usually carry a few in my first aid kit.

And you should too. Why? A safety pin can help you to remove a splinter or to pop a blister or a cyst. And if the situation calls for it, safety pins can be used as emergency sutures.

Be sure to sterilize the safety pin before using it by heating it under fire and then wiping it down with alcohol (if you have some on hand).

Here are a few other ways you can use safety pins when you’re fighting for survival:

  • Use as a fishhook to procure food;
  • If your shelter has tarps, you can use safety pins to secure them in place when the weather is working against you;
  • Repair any broken zipper or holes in your clothing;
  • Use it as a lockpick (learn how to here);
  • When nothing else is available, you can use a safety pin as a self-defense tool.
  1. Chapstick

Want to know a secret? I always carry chapstick with me. And no, it’s not for my lips. I carry it because I’ve discovered that chapstick can be extremely helpful in an apocalyptical scenario.

How? Let me tell you:

  • You can apply chapstick on small cuts to prevent infections and speed up the healing;
  • If you’re in a snowstorm or very cold area, you can prevent frostbite by adding a layer of chapstick on your exposed skin;
  • Using chapstick can also protect your skin from the sun;
  • If your shoes rub against your skin, add some chapstick to prevent blisters;
  • You can add chapstick to your knife’s blade to prevent rust;
  • If you’re walking at night, you can cut a Q-tip in half, insert it in the chapstick, and light up the cotton – voilà, you’ve got a long-burning emergency candle!

So, these are the top 5 everyday items I consider taking with me when disaster strikes. Some other honorable mentions are:

  • Baby wipes – clean anything (yourself included), soothe a sunburn, or even use as toilet paper;
  • Dental floss – helpful for setting up traps and tripwires, an alternative to a fishing line, and creating a makeshift clothesline;
  • Baking soda – treat insect bites, clean fruits and veggies, extinguish fires, and use as an antacid.

What everyday use items do you carry in your bug out bag? Are they on this list?

P.S. Even though everyday items are great tools to use, a survivalist should always be properly prepared for any situation. With that in mind, I recommend picking up a multi-purpose survival card that fits in your pocket and has a lot of mini tools: knife, ruler, tweezers, screwdrivers, compass, magnifying lens, and even a toothpick.

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