Even if you aren’t heading into the deeper, dark woods, there are plenty of times during your life you might need a little bit of help getting out of a pickle. Here are a bunch of survival tips for your time away from civilization and inside it.
Go On. Do It.
Mosquitoes are annoying, aggravating, and can even be dangerous in certain areas of the world. If you spend any amount of time outside, you probably have some insect repellent, but what if you run out or forget? Brace yourselves; this tip is wild. Find a termite hill, grab a bunch of termites, and smash them into a paste, with which you will then cover yourself.
Told you. Apparently, mosquitoes stay away from termite corpses. We have no idea why, and we aren't looking forward to trying this tactic out, but it might be handy if you have no other options.
The Rule of Threes
It's always nice to know some of the more important rules when wandering around outdoors, and one of the handiest is the Rule of Threes. This refers to how long an average person can survive in extreme temperatures without food or water. It goes as follows:
You can survive in extreme heat or cold for three hours before getting hypothermia or heat exhaustion. You can survive with no water for three days before dehydration. You can survive without food for three weeks before dying of starvation. Of course, different people will have slightly different numbers, but that's the general guideline.
Glue Cuts Shut
Small cuts are a natural thing while exploring the great outdoors, but you don't want them to sit open. They could become infected or continue bleeding, which you want to avoid. If you lack the necessities in your first-aid kit, like bandages, there's more than one way to stop bleeding.
Keep a tube of super glue handy. Make sure to disinfect the wound first, then apply a thin layer of super glue over the wound and hold it shut. Once the glue dries, the wound will be closed and will have a thin layer of protective glue as a bonus.
Put Out a Fire in a Flash
You might be tempted to throw some water on fire if it gets too large, but avoid this tactic with oil or grease fires – it can backfire badly. Instead, dump a bunch of baking soda onto the fire and cover it with a lid, or cut off the oxygen supply in some other way.
The baking soda will create carbon dioxide, which will extinguish the flame. With a lid, there's no way for the fire to get more air, and it will be out for good.
Upgrade Your Matches
Taking matches with you while you're out in the wild is a standard tactic, but what if it's windy out? You might think they're impossible to light if the wind is gusting, but it can still be done! In fact, all you need to make it easier is a small, sharp object – a pocket knife is perfect.
Use the knife to cut pieces of the match close to the head. These small splinters will catch fire to create a bigger flame, which gives the match a better chance of staying lit. Notice we said better, not a hundred percent.
Keep Food Fresh Without Refrigeration
Ever heard of a pot-in-pot refrigerator? They've been used for millennia to keep food from going bad even without power. It's like this: take a porous outer clay pot, add a smaller clay pot inside it, and fill the gap between them with wet sand. The evaporation of the outer liquid sucks heat from the inner pot, which keeps the area of the inner pot cool.
It only requires pots, some water, and relatively dry air outside. It might not be so practical for a normal camping trip, but who knows? It might come in handy one day.
Jump-Start a Fire
Being able to start a fire while you're away from all the modern conveniences is survival step number one, but here's a trick to make it a little easier. Soak cotton balls or pads in petroleum jelly or paraffin wax to create little power-packed starters that will make setting up camp for the night far easier.
Throw one of them onto a fire before you light it, and once it warms up, it will give you ample opportunity to arrange the wood to your liking. All that combustible energy means that this important step is easier than ever.
Time to Call a Locksmith
If you're stuck with a bow but no arrows, you might think you're fully out of luck. But, what's that in your pocket? Your keys! Sure, you might be reluctant to break them, but if it means survival, you shouldn't hesitate to do whatever you can.
Attach a key to a piece of thin wood to create a makeshift arrow. That you can use to hunt for food or defend yourself from predators. Having some super glue or string around will be critical here.
Fill a Tire With Grass
Spend enough time on the road, and you'll probably get a flat tire at some point. Maybe you have a spare and can use a tire iron, but maybe not. Here's an option that might make it a little easy to reach a service station. Fill the busted tire with grass to create something that will keep the rim from taking too much damage.
We don't recommend going very fast while using this method – if you can put the grass in, the grass can come back out. But it's still an option if you don't have any other ideas.
Duct Tape Is Your Best Friend
Duct tape is the kind of thing that you should always have around when in rough conditions. Let's say you're alone in the wild (or in an underground bunker after the world has ended) and you need access to whatever food jar you can find, except it's screwed on too tightly). Grab a roll of duct tape and salvage yourself.
You can make a small handle that will allow you to twist the cap off with enough of a strong pull. The problem is usually getting enough grip, so something that is sticky and grippy is sure to be a big help.
A Quick Raft
Rising water? What about an unexpected river that you need to cross? There are a number of situations when you have to deal with the wet stuff, but what if you didn't think to bring a canoe or anything of the sort? Here's a possible solution: You can make a raft by wrapping a collection of small branches in a tarp.
The branches trap air in pockets, and the tarp keeps it from escaping. This last-ditch effort might just work in an emergency situation, but we wouldn't trust it for more than one person if you have any other options.
Avert Your Eyes
It should be common knowledge not to look directly at the sun. The same holds true for a solar eclipse. For some reason, it's even more dangerous during a solar eclipse, since the light is a little more concentrated thanks to...space science.
Now, let's say civilization has ended and you had no way of knowing a solar eclipse was coming, let alone, getting special glasses that dim the rays. You can make your own by gluing solar film (that thing they use for tinted windows) onto an empty glasses frame and watch away without going blind.
More for Just Drinking
We're sure plenty of people bring cans of Coke along for a treat once they've set up for the night, but did you know soda cans can make for handy jet stoves? Cut a can in two horizontally through the center and poke holes around the rim, with an additional one through the center.
Crimp the edges of one of the bases inward, and fill it with cotton balls. Cover it with the second base, which has the same holes, and pour rubbing alcohol or something similar over it to soak the cotton. You're ready to go.
Preserve Meat on the Road
For some, hunting is a good bit of fun. For others, it's life or death. Transporting the meat you've gathered is an important part of the process. The best way to do this is to hang the meat over a fire to smoke it, which will dry it out.
This helps preserve the meat, and also gives it a nice smoky flavor once you chow down. Obviously, this tactic won't make the meat last forever, and it should still be cooked properly, but you can keep your food supplies high or bring back a bigger haul after a hunting trip.
Keep Food Fresh Longer
Blackouts can hit anywhere, but places that suffer from storms like tornadoes or hurricanes are in greater danger. Blackouts can last from hours to weeks, and if they stretch on, your food can go bad. Keep a bunch of water bottles in your freezer (plastic bottles, so there are no bursts) so they freeze up.
If the power goes out, put the bottles in your fridge to let them contribute to the cold, and avoid opening the fridge if possible. This also lowers your power costs while they're sitting in the freezer since it doesn't have to work as hard.
Safety in the Parking Lot
While it isn't the deep, dark forest, a parking lot at night can still be a freaky place to have to get through. If you're worried about getting jumped, grab your ring of keys, so the points stick through the gaps in your fist. Anybody that wants a piece of you will get a face full of sharp metal before they can say “stick 'em up.”
The keys probably won't do much damage unless you get them in the eye, but the shock value is a big part of this tactic. It would be like trying to rob a porcupine.
Make Your Directions Clear
So you've read all the survival tips for wilderness and city life, and you're ready to jump into action if something strikes. You're there to take control of any situation. But what about everyone else? Here's a way to make sure people know how to act. If someone needs to call 911, for instance, don't just say “someone call 911.”
People might not take the initiative, or more than one person might. Single out a bystander and say, “you call 911.” Be clear. That way, everybody will know where they stand and what they can do to help.
Create a Homemade Bug Trap
Even if you aren't far from home, spending time outside has a big drawback: bugs. Most of them you can deal with, but mosquitoes are annoying and potentially dangerous. They can carry some deadly diseases. There are plenty of sprays and candles to keep them away, but here's another option. Mix water, brown sugar, and yeast together to create something that mosquitoes can't ignore.
You can improve the trap with a two-liter soda bottle, cut in half and with the top reversed. The little scamps will gladly fly toward the interesting smell and CO2 and drown or get trapped.
Clean Wild Wounds
Getting snagged by a wandering branch or scraping a knee on a rock is a common enough occurrence while you're outside. Those scratches can be dirty, leading to infections, which can lead to a lot of bad things. Here's how to flush out a wound.
Take a regular bottle of water and poke a small hole in the cap. You should only need a needle or something of a similar size to achieve this. Fill the bottle with water, and squeeze it to create a narrow jet of water with enough pressure to flush out the wounds you've accumulated.
Spread Some Colorful Light
If you're exploring an unfamiliar area, light is critical. If you're lost somewhere in the wilderness, it can mean the difference between life and death. Taking multiple light sources while you explore is imperative, but sometimes you run out of options. Well, here's another: most crayons, if lit like a candle, can burn for about thirty minutes each.
The crayon is just wax surrounded by paper, just slightly different than a wick in wax. This should be your last resort if you're stuck in the dark, but if you're the artistic sort, you can have an extra layer of safety.
Stay Small During a Mob
There are lots of places where a mob or stampede could happen. A sporting event, a concert, on the street, the African Savannah...lots of places. If this starts to happen around you, know what the best solution is? Get small and stay small. Try to find a hiding place and get away from the crowd, the animals, or whatever.
The danger in a stampede isn't necessarily getting hit – it's suffocating. With all those feet stamping over you, you can't draw breath. Curl into a ball against the wall and protect your head, and you're going to come out better.
Tornado? Get Under Cover
If you live in a place that has regular tornadoes, then you probably already know this potentially life-saving information. If you don't, here's the skinny: tornadoes are dangerous. Really dangerous. They can look far off, but if they get close, they will destroy a great deal. If you see one heading toward you, get under cover.
Do your best to get underground. There's a much greater chance of survival with a structure above you. Even better, have some concrete above your head. At least five inches above your head makes it much more likely you'll escape unharmed.
Protect Yourself From Lightning Strikes
Forget about the old adage – lightning can and will strike more than once in the same place. Here's how to avoid lightning: First, seek shelter. If there's none available, crouch down to get as small as possible, touch your heels together and lift them off the ground. You want only the balls of your feet to be in contact. Finally, cover your ears.
Most of these are pretty obvious, but why touch heels together? If electricity enters you through the ground, it will take the shortest path back out – through your heels instead of through your entire body.
Make Your Own Compass
Getting lost in the wilderness is a scary prospect, but most of us have things we can rely on now, like phones or compasses. But...what if you don't have them? You still have options.
Maybe your cell phone doesn't have reception in the deep dark woods. In that case, all you need to make your own compass is a needle, a leaf, water, and hair, or a piece of clothing. Rub the needle against your hair or shirt to magnetize it (be patient here) and rest it on a leaf that is floating in water. The needle should point north.
The Smell of Death
Almonds are a great source of protein. You can use them to make marzipan, and they're a great snack for when you don't want too much. However, you want to know what else almonds are full of? Poisonous cyanide! Well, not full of, per se – but it does have some.
There is, of course, nowhere near enough cyanide in almonds to kill you, but if you suddenly smell almonds when there shouldn't be any...you may just be in a place that has poison. Get away from the place, and make sure you notify the authorities.
Leave It In
This is one of those pieces of medical advice that might seem counterproductive at first, but it could be a big help in saving lives. If you get stabbed by a sharp object, the best course of action would be to leave it in. This offers several advantages.
First, it might be serving as a kind of band-aid to keep blood in. If you're hit in certain spots, blood loss will be your first worry. Second, if you're hit in the chest, leaving the object in will help prevent a pneumothorax – the scientific term for a collapsed lung.
Saving Time During the Winter
Winter is a time of sledding, snowmen, giving gifts, cookies, and – if you keep your car outside – scraping the windshield off every other day. Even if it's just a layer of frost, you still have to get rid of it to be able to survive your next commute to the office. This job is never fun. However, it can be a lot easier if you use half an onion the night before.
Get those onion oils on the glass surfaces of your car, and the frost will have a harder time finding purchase. This will undoubtedly make your next morning easier.
Carry Beans or Rice
If you're on a long, long trek, having the right food is critical. You might think it's smart to carry things like rice or beans with you, and you're not wrong – they're packed with nutrients and protein, and they make it easy to eat healthy on the road. But the sacks they often come in aren't exactly the toughest things around.
They're liable to split and spill your food all over – inside your backpack or onto the floor. Instead, fill up plastic bottles for safer transportation of the supplies you need to stay well-fed while you're taking on nature.
Safety While Driving
Road trips aren't always comfortable, but putting your feet up on the dash is a great way to...potentially hurt yourself really, really badly. While it might take some convincing, try not to let anybody put their feet up while you're driving. If you happen to get in an accident while someone has their feet up there, it's a recipe for disaster.
Not only does the impact itself present major opportunities for injury, but the airbag might force the feet or knees back, causing possible injury to the chest or face. The possibilities are endless, and none of them are good.
A Little Spending Money
Keeping a little bit of cash around is a great idea. Keep a ten- or twenty-dollar bill inside your wallet or purse for emergencies or situations when only cash can be used like toll booths, parking garages, etc. But what if you lost or forgot your wallet?
Add an extra layer of safety by keeping money inside your phone case. Of course, you need a phone case to pull this off, but many of us are using one to keep our cells safe from falls. Slip that cash against the back of your phone, where nobody will know but you.
Swapping Out Batteries
Having some extra batteries in your pack is a good tip at any time, especially while you're away from electrical outlets, but what do you do if you've grabbed the wrong pack and have AAA batteries instead of AA batteries? Tin foil.
Power is power, which means that if you can get the batteries to fit inside the battery compartment, you can get power to your devices. Ball the tin foil up to fill the rest of the space between the battery and the appliance. It won't run for as long, but it can still be handy in a pinch.
Find Your Own Thread
Thread comes from plants, and if you spot the right ones, you can even make your own rope. It won't be as good as the modern rope that you could have brought along but will be a big help if you have nothing else and need to fish, make a snare, or string a bow.
Make natural fibers out of palm leaves or, if you're in North America, from the Yucca plant. The plant has big fat leaves and barbed points that you can cut down to make some thread. Braid the thread to make a rope.
The All-Important Candle
Light and heat are two of the most important things when it comes to survival, and there are plenty of ways to achieve both. Sometimes, however, those other options fail, even when you're at home (blackouts, anyone?). So, it might be a good idea to have a bunch of safety candles available.
They're the kinds of candles that can stay lit for up to thirty-six hours, but they still need matches or lighters. Readily-available light and heat while you're going through the wild, or while you're dealing with a power outage at home during the winter.
Trashy Rain Protection
Rain puts a big damper on outdoor fun, but most of the time you can just run inside to get away from the storm. Not so if you're stuck outside or on a long camping trip. If, for some reason, you didn't pack any protective ponchos, you aren't totally out of luck.
If you happen to have some trash bags, they can be adjusted with a face hole to give you something that will block the rain. Even if you don't have them on hand, they're going to be easier to find at a store than plastic ponchos.
This survival tip is more or less obvious, but it could still be important to say. If you're somewhere that doesn't have any buildings, you need a little bit of shelter. This can protect you from elements like rain or snow, can keep you warm (or keep the sun off you during hot days), and even protect you from animals.
If you're building a shelter from elements like wood and branches, use mud and moss to seal the little spaces between them and give the place some heat-retaining insulation.
Proper Barbecue Technique
If you're in the great outdoors looking to cook up your latest hunt, make sure you're going about lighting the grill the right way, or things could get heated. If you're using propane, make sure to leave the lid wide open. Otherwise, the propane gas could accumulate and create a fireball when lit.
On the other hand, if you're using lighter fluid and charcoal, feel free to leave the lid down before getting it lit. No gas fuel means no danger. Or at least less danger. You still want to be careful whenever accelerants are present. Happy cooking!
Filtered Water Is Safe Water
Any experienced outdoorsman will tell you that you have to be careful with your water. Sure, you can carry a Brita filter with you, but what if you don't have the space? Here's how to filter your own water.
Create a pyramid shape with three sticks, and tie three pieces of cloth to the sticks on the inside, creating three levels of cloth. Fill the top with grass, the middle with sand, and the bottom with charcoal. Place something to catch the water under it all, and pour water over the top. This won't remove everything, but it will help.
Forge a Bike-Tire Bow
If, for some reason, you're stuck in the wilderness with nothing but a busted-down bike and your wits, you can still defend yourself or hunt for food with what you have on hand. Make a bow out of that old bike!
The metal wheel frames, without the spokes, can be used to make a rigid frame and grip for the bow. The rubber from the tires can make a flexible element that serves as something you can bend to add power. You'll have to produce some string and attach it to the contraption from somewhere else, but you can do it.
Bring Flavors Everywhere
Spices are handy little additions to all sorts of meals, but you can also use them for food preservation. Fill up old Tic Tac containers with spices to create simple items that won't pop open during travel.
The basics, like salt and pepper, will help with general preservation, and more adventurous flavors, like nutmeg, cardamom, and turmeric, offer a range of healing properties to keep your immune system strong. Sans refrigeration or regular medication, these natural alternatives will be a bigger health boost than you'd expect.
Create a Long-Lasting Candle
Yes, we all know that light is super important when you're out in the wild, but it can be hard to carry everything you need to keep your chosen area lit. While a candle might not spread a ton of light, you can create one that will last a long, long time.
A big jar of vegetable shortening like Crisco only needs a wick that goes down the bottom for a candle that will burn for hours upon hours. You'll have to do some work to get the wick into the jar, but sometimes the effort is worth it.
Taking a long hike? Good for you. Need to cross a river that doesn't have an obvious ford or bridge? Careful now. There are plenty of reasons why rapidly-flowing water can be dangerous. If you need to cross a stream or river, throw a branch into the water first. If it moves downstream faster than your normal walking pace, you need to find a different route or go to a different spot in the river.
Of course, always be sure to watch your step while you're crossing. Slick rocks, moss, or even fish can be treacherous.
Stay Safe With Your Smartphone
If you're like a really high percentage of the world, you own a smartphone. Maybe even two. You might be tempted to leave your phone at home if you're going camping, but there are lots of reasons to take it if you're headed to the wild. Tons of apps can help you keep yourself alive.
These include GPS apps of varying quality, apps that will let you know if there's bad weather on the way, apps that will tell you what plants are edible and which you should stay away from, army survival apps, a knots app, and many more.
Glow Sticks Are Always Handy
Just because you aren't at a dance party doesn't mean you can't get some use out of glow sticks! They're incredibly handy items to keep around in case you need to be noticed, like when you're calling for help. Make sure everybody has one or two in their packs before heading on a hike. If you get separated, crack them up to create something that will be much easier to see in the dark.
Having multiple ways to stay safe during any kind of situation gives you the biggest chance of survival, and something as quick and easy as glow sticks are a good pick.
Powdered Aspirin Is Faster
What do you do if someone is having a heart attack? Start CPR? Call an ambulance? The second one, for sure, but another tactic you might know is to have that person take an aspirin. But, and this might really mean something in the future, they shouldn't swallow it whole like most pills. They should chew it.
It will act faster, and aspirin is a blood thinner – it can make it possible for blood to get past clots. This doesn't guarantee survival, but it might make the chances a little higher, and sometimes that's all you need.
Keeping Cuts Clean
You probably remember your parents bringing out the brown bottle of hydrogen peroxide after you got a cut as a kid. It might have hurt, but it was for a good reason – eliminating potential illnesses. If you get a bad scrape but don't have any hydrogen peroxide on hand, what should you do?
A simple solution of salt and water is all you need. The steps are easy: put half a teaspoon of salt into a cup of water and boil it with the lid on. After it cools, you have something to help clean out cuts and scrapes.
Spread Light Where You Need It
So you have a couple of votive candles in your outdoor supplies to make sure you have a light source when you need it, but they aren't that great at focusing on a specific job you're trying to accomplish. The solution is simple – take a beer or soda can and cut it open, peeling back the flaps or wings to create a small home for your candle.
The reflective metal will focus the light where you're working, perfect for building a bigger fire, setting up a tent, or something else in the dark outdoors.
The Classic Fire Safety Tip
If you're above the age of about seven, there's a good chance you're aware of this one, but it's good to repeat every now and again. If you catch on fire, what do you do? Stop, drop, and roll. Easy. However, there are way too many videos of people who catch fire and then start running to try and put it out.
That won't do anything except give you a bad burn. An additional tip is to cover your face while doing the stop, drop, and roll to avoid damage from both the fire and the roll.
It's Always Great to Have Chips Around
If you're going for long hikes or intense camping trips, you've probably got plenty of food with you. While you might or might not want chips around for that, here's a reason to include them in your list of supplies.
If you're trying to create a fire after a long day of tramping through the wilderness, then grab a couple of chips – any kind, really. The oils they contain make them great fire starters. Pile some wood on top of them and light them up, and you'll have a roaring fire in no time. Plus, they're quite tasty.
Finding berries in the wild can be a huge boon to your survival. If you're out of food and wandering through the wilderness, grabbing a handful of berries can give you the sugar and water needed to keep moving, find better food, get to some shelter, or stay ahead of the men hunting for you (no matter how unlikely that is).
It's best to check beforehand which berries are safe to eat – you don't want to realize you're snacking on holly berries or something like that. Holly berries are poisonous, in case that wasn't clear.
A Free Call
In an emergency? The obvious step is to call 911 and get the authorities on their way. But, if you don't have your phone, what can you do? Well, they might not be as ubiquitous as they were before, but pay phones still exist, and here's something you might not know – calls to 911 are always free. Always.
If you don't have any quarters and have an emergency, a call to 911 is still on the table. Make sure to only do this if you actually need help – calling 911 on a whim can mean a big fine.
It's Not Just for Hopscotch
Before heading out on your next hike or camping excursion, grab a piece of chalk and add it to your backpack. No, it's not for drawing pictures at the campsite – use it to mark trees and paths that you've taken. On the way back to home base, you can use the marks to ensure you're on the right path.
This can also prevent you from walking around in circles if you're trying to find your way to something – if you see something you've marked, you know that you AREN'T heading in the right direction.
Strip to Escape Polar Bears
Okay, most of you probably aren't going to be attacked by a polar bear, but there is still a small chance of it happening if you live in the great white north. The rest of you are more likely to be attacked by a goose, but you never know.
Step one is to run away. No, seriously. Step two is to throw your supplies or bag to lighten the load and perhaps distract the bear. If that still doesn't work, your next step is to, and we aren't kidding here, strip. Hopefully, your clothes will distract the bear long enough for you to get to safety.
The Trick of Fake Body Heat
If you're out in the cold for a long, long time, you might start to suffer hypothermia – freezing to death. If you're suffering from hypothermia, you might start to feel warm. Really warm. In your confused, frozen state, you might even start to take your clothes off. Try not to do this!
It's called vasodilation, and it happens while we're getting close to the end, and our heart is going wild to warm us back up. Taking clothes off will just cool you down even faster, and that will be that.
Make a Rudimentary Gorge
A fishing gorge is a tool people used to fish before the hook became more useful, and you can make your own if you're stuck without food and need to get some fish. Take a small branch and whittle it down with a knife until it's about two inches long with a sharp point on each end.
Cut a v-notch in the middle, and wrap a piece of fishing line, twine, or rope there. Spear some bait on one of the ends and dangle it in the water until you feel a tug.
Let There Be Light
So you forgot a big lantern to illuminate your campsite for the night. That's okay, there's another way to keep the place well-lit. Take a gallon jug, and fill it with water. Attach a headlamp to the outside, pointing into the jug's side. It creates a super-bright lantern that might actually surprise you.
Your headlamp will be out of use, but it's still a pretty good trade-off. The water can even come from a lake or river. Of course, you have to have a gallon jug with you, which isn't a common carry-on...but maybe it should be.
Pen Pocket Bellow
A pocket bellow is a nifty tool for any survivalist to help get a fire going or maintain an already-lit one. But they're small, which makes them easy to lose, and that's not a situation you want to find yourself in.
Unscrew the clip from your pen and connect it to your pocket bellow. It'll fit like a glove, and you can keep your pocket bellow attached to you without fear of losing it.
Keep Pets Away From Rock Salt
If you're in an area of the world that sees a good amount of snow, then you're probably familiar with rock salt — the stuff they spread on roads to keep them from icing over. It's incredibly helpful to avoid injuries and crashes, but it can be dangerous to animals.
We're told that just a single lick of the stuff can be enough to make a dog hellaciously ill, even threatening its life if they've consumed enough. If you're spending some quality time outside with your pets in the snow, make sure to clean off their paws, so they don't lick any of it up.
Keep Toilet Paper Out of the Rain
Aside from preventing you from using suspicious plants in a delicate area, toilet paper can be used for fire kindling if you're out of everything else. Soggy toilet paper, however, will help neither situation. So, if you're in an area with a lot of precipitation, you might find your toilet paper getting soggy and useless. Use an old plastic coffee canister with a slot cut in the side to stick your roll of toilet paper inside.
Tuck the paper back into the slot while you're on the move (or the sky is threatening) to ensure you have something dry and comfortable to clean up with. Add a handle by taping on some cord or wire for easier transportation.
Heat in a Pinch
We all know that being able to get heat and light when we need it is a big survival tactic, and here's a way to warm up that might escape you. Take an old Altoids tin (empty, obviously) and pack it full of corrugated cardboard.
You can hit the cardboard with a match or lighter to create a tiny fire that will give you a little bit of heat and light, allowing you to find your way out of a sticky situation, create a larger fire for the night, or heat up some food until it's safe to eat.
Use a Shirt as an Emergency Sling
Hopefully, you're never in a situation where this becomes necessary, but if your buddy breaks an arm or collarbone and you have an extra shirt handy (or a shirt in general), here's something you can do.
Pass the head (just the head, not the whole body) through the top hole, then put the injured arm through both of the shirt's armholes. Adjust as necessary for maximum comfort and keep the arm close to the body. It will work in a pinch, but it's best to find medical help as soon as possible.
Getting Out of a Sinking Car
While it doesn't happen often, we're all a little scared of hitting some ice and skidding into a river. It's hard to act right if you're in panic mode, but here's what you can do if you find yourself in this scary situation. Headrests on seats have a pair of metal prongs that can be used to break open a window.
Make sure you unbuckle your seatbelt first and watch out for flying glass. Opening the door can be hard due to the water pressure, so this will mean you always have a way to escape your vehicle.
A Fishy Smell From the Outlets
For a lot of people, outlets are just...there. You plug stuff into them, the stuff turns on, and everybody's happy. But what if there's a fishy smell coming out of them? It can happen, believe it or not. If you have outlets that you don't use regularly – we're talking at least once a year – then you might want to give them a sniff.
Some faulty outlets and bad electrical wiring can create what many people call a “fishy smell,” and you might want to get the wiring tested. Otherwise, you could have an issue on your hands.
Block Frostbite Using Baby Oil
Spending a long time outside in the cold is something we all have to do at some point, even if it's just shoveling the driveway. If you're the kind of person that will spend hours and hours in sub-zero temperatures, it might be a good idea to keep a bottle of baby oil on your person.
Apparently, putting baby oil on your exposed skin can reduce the chance of getting frostbite, or at least reduce the severity if you do get it. Putting it on your toes, fingers, and other extremities will help the most.
A Tip to Avoid
If you spend a lot of time scrolling through survival tips, you might have seen one about putting peppermint oil on ticks. Don't do this!
The tip says that the oil is to prevent the tick from latching on, which might be partially true, but that wonderful peppermint oil is going to increase salivation in a tick – that means if there's a tick latched on, it will have a higher chance of spreading dangerous diseases.
No Magnifying Glass Needed
We all know that a bit of glass held at the right angle will focus the sun into a hot little point. You might not be using it on poor little ants anymore, but it's still a tactic for when you need to start a fire. If the sun is still out, you don't even need a “piece of glass.”
Just take your spectacles off your head and hold them at the right angle, and you should be able to get a flame going. A dry leaf or a piece of paper is the best item to focus on for kindling.
Usually, we would tell you to stay away from a car battery – those things have a lot of juice and can be plenty dangerous if handled improperly. But this is about survival, darn it, and here's something you can do with your car battery if you're out of other ideas.
If you have jumper cables and a graphite pencil, you can get a fire started. Expose the graphite on both ends of the pencil, then attach the battery cables to the pencil. The graphite will conduct electricity and start burning.
Get Rid of Ticks
Ticks are bad news. Whether they get on humans or dogs, they can spread disease and lead to some nasty consequences. You want to get rid of them ASAP, but you must do it carefully, or the head might get stuck in the skin. Not fun. It's possible to create a small “lasso” to remove ticks using a mechanical pencil and a small, thin piece of string.
Loop the lasso around the ticks and remove them carefully. Wash the bite spot thoroughly, and try to keep the tick around, just in case it needs to be given to a medical professional.
Less Dangerous Than Expected
As children, we all thought quicksand was going to be far more of a danger than reality. In truth, there isn't much quicksand near most living places, but it can still show up in some places. If you do find yourself sinking, just stay calm. Quicksand is really just sandy water, so try to tread it like you're swimming.
Go for a solid object and pull yourself to safety. If you can't do that, lift your stomach and legs to create a large surface area on top of the quicksand. Swim to solid ground and pull yourself out.
Duct Tape Arrows?
If you know anything about arrows, you know that the feathers on the back are critical to making something that will fly straight and true. It's essential for a proper trajectory and hitting what you're aiming at. Thankfully, you can make this critical component with some duct tape.
Fold a piece of tape in half, leaving a thin strip of the sticky side. Mark the outline of the fletching and trim the duct tape, but don't cut the sticky part. Do this three times, stick the tape to your arrow, and you have something you can use.
Important Letters to Remember
We don't really need to know Morse code these days unless they're a historical reenactor or work on a vessel. Still, it's handy to know SOS. That's dot-dot-dot, dash-dash-dash, dot-dot-dot. The dots have quick gaps, the dashes have longer gaps. You can shine your flashlight, clap your hands, or bang rocks together.
What does SOS mean? Nothing. It doesn't stand for anything. It was chosen because S and O are the easiest letters of Morse code to remember, so early users of Morse code singled the simple code out as something everybody could use in an emergency situation.
Nature's Mosquito Repellent
We cover a number of mosquito repellents in this list (some of which are pretty repellent in their own right), but here are a few more. You want to avoid itchy bites, but it's also nice to know you don't have to worry about the various and dangerous diseases that these little pests can carry.
If you're outside without any spray repellent, there are numerous wild plants that can help. Grab citronella, lavender, wild geranium, or rosemary and crush the leaves to produce oils that will ward off the most annoying bugs in the world.
A DIY Security System
This will take a little bit of work to get it set up properly, but if done correctly, you can make a handy security system out of twine, a glow stick, and a classic mousetrap. Tie the glow stick onto the trap's trigger, and string the twine across the area that you want to protect.
If anything triggers it, you'll hear the snap of the trap as well as see the light of the glow stick, since the trap will crack the interior and activate it. If you're worried about safety while you sleep, this is the way to do it.
It's a pretty common piece of life-saving knowledge that CPR goes at a specific rate, the kind of rate you can replicate using specific songs. While performing CPR, use the beat from “Nelly the Elephant” by Toy Dolls, “Stayin' Alive” by Bee Gees, or “Another One Bites the Dust” by Queen to get the proper pattern for keeping a heart going.
Yes, some of those names are wonderful options, and they could end up saving a life. We still recommend getting CPR training from a professional, but this tip can work in a life-or-death situation.
Create Your Own Fire
Remember in “Castaway,” when Tom Hanks was oh-so excited to have created his own fire? You can get the same thrill, but you don't even need to work at it for that long! Remember this next tip if you're ever lost outside with some old batteries. You'll also need a chewing gum wrapper.
All you have to do is connect the tinfoil side of the wrapper to either end of the battery. The small electrical circuit will start the paper side on fire, and voila! You have a little flame you can use to start a bigger fire.
Telling the Time
Devices make it pretty easy to tell the correct time these days, but what if you're stuck without those things and you need to figure out the hour? For a rough estimate, measure the distance between the horizon and the sun.
The width of each finger is approximately fifteen minutes of time before the sun goes down, but this will differ based on location, time of year, and the size of your hands. But, sometimes, an estimate is all you need. If you just have a pinky left before the sun goes down, it's time to get some shelter.
The Difference Between Snakes
Most snakes aren't really that much of a danger to humans. However, there are still plenty that might be a bother if they happen to sink their fangs into your skin. While there are plenty of differences, a few can be seen at a glance – if a snake has a triangular head instead of a rounded or oval head, then there very well might be fangs hidden in the mouth.
In addition, snakes with elliptical pupils are the ones to stay away from. Those with rounded pupils won't be looking to strike quickly, which means they aren't as dangerous.
Stay Away From Stormy Elevators
Flash floods are incredibly scary and pose a lot of danger for a lot of people. Here's a way to stay safer. Never, ever, ever use an elevator, unless you're going up and staying there.
Never go down in an elevator during a flood – you won't know how high the water is, and if the elevator hits it in the shaft, you're stuck in that tiny space. Even if you can get the doors open, you might just let the water in. Not a good idea. Stay on the upper floors or head for the hills.
Ready to Catch Some Dinner
So you're roaming across this beautiful world we call home, and you find a stream, full of fish that look mighty tasty once they're roasted over a fire. You have string and sticks, but what about a hook? We've got you covered.
Grab some of the soda cans or energy drinks that you've been sipping on and take a pair of scissors to the hooks. With the right snips, you can create a quick hook that will work in a pinch to snag a little bit of dinner out of the water.
Do You Know About Tsunamis?
Ever gone to the beach to find it's low tide? It can be sort of disappointing, especially if you had a whole day planned. Thankfully, the tide is incredibly regular, which means high tide will be on its way in just a few short hours. Unless, of course, there's a tsunami headed toward you.
A tsunami is a wave or series of waves much larger than normal, and they can pose serious danger to people and even buildings. If the ocean's tide appears unnaturally low, you might want to seek higher ground. Get to the highest hill in the area.
Having an in-ground pool is a ton of fun (and work!), and it's one of life's greatest ways to relax after a day of work. There are a lot of questions that go into it, and one of the rarer questions is, what if the water tastes metallic? If anybody swimming in a pool reports the water suddenly has a distinct metallic taste, everybody needs to get out of the pool immediately.
There's a good chance there's an electrical short somewhere that is reaching the pool, and it could be only a few seconds before electricity hits the pool.