How to make 9 improvised survival items that can save your life when SHTF
05/06/2020 // Arsenio Toledo // Views

When you're in a disaster situation, you will need to make use of any items you have on hand to survive. If you ever find yourself in the middle of nowhere without all the right gear on you, there are ways that you can still make do with what you may have. Here are nine improvised survival items you can make that may be able to save your life when SHTF. (h/t to

Shoelace cordage

Shoelaces, especially the ones for military-issued boots, are made of strong material, similar to parachute cords. If you find yourself in need of additional inches or feet of cordage, use the laces on your hiking shoes or boots.

Duct tape bandages

Duct tape is one of the most versatile survival tools you can use. For one, it can be a substitute for bandage. If you don't have a first aid kit and you need something to cover a cut or a scrape, make a butterfly suture by cutting several small strips of duct tape and placing them on top of your wound. (Related: Survival first aid tips: Do you know how to apply a tourniquet?)

Hand sanitizer tinder

Many alcohol-based hand sanitizers are flammable substances. They often contain both rubbing and ethyl alcohol at a concentration of between 65 to 95 percent. If you're somewhere damp and you don't have any dry sources of tinder, such as dry leaves, use some hand sanitizer to ignite your fire.

Sewing needle compass

If you have a stainless steel sewing needle in your travel sewing kit, it can be magnetized and turned into a compass needle. You just need to rub it vigorously for a few minutes with an item or a piece of clothing that's 100 percent wool. The static electricity this generates will magnetize the needle. Afterward, tie a piece of string on the middle of the needle and dangle it from your hand. If done properly, it should point north.


Bandana water filter

If you're stranded in the wilderness, you won't survive for long without a steady supply of fresh water. Luckily, if you or someone else in your group has a bandana, it can be used as an emergency filter. While it won't be as effective as proper filters, it can filter out large particulates. Using a bandana shouldn't replace the use of proper water filters, but if it is the only method of water filtration you have on hand, using it is better than nothing.

Car key saw

Your car keys can be used as an improvised cutting instrument. While it won't be able to cut large wooden logs, it can be used to make notches in branches for making traps and snares.

Bottle cap whistle

If you need to find a way to signal your location, the cap from your water bottle can be turned into a survival whistle. Simply hold the bottle cap by placing both your thumbs over the opening. Next, create a small gap between your thumb knuckles and blow air through it. If done correctly, it should make a loud, high-pitched whistle noise.

Smartphone signal mirror

Approximately 81 percent of people in the United States own a smartphone. If you're stranded in the wilderness and you have brought your smartphone with you, its screen can be used as a signal mirror. Most smartphone screens are large enough to be able to reflect sunlight. Simply turn off your phone and try and catch light with the screen. If there are any passing aircraft or vehicles nearby, hopefully they'll be able to spot you if you point your improvised signal mirror in their direction.

Camera lens fire starter

If you brought a camera with you, its lens can be used as a fire starter, but only when the sun is shining. The camera lens is basically a magnifying glass that you can use to start a fire. Just point your lens on your tinder source for a few minutes.

Learning how to improvise different kinds of survival tools from the gear you currently have is a great skill to have. If you have the time, do your research on the different things you can make from your gear.

Sources include: 1 2

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