Eight Household Items That Could Save Your Life
In inclement weather, starting a fire Boy-Scout-style can be a bit tricky. Thankfully, Stewart says tampons are among the best tinder on the planet. Begin by removing the cotton plug from its waterproof wrapper and plastic applicator. Then pull apart the tampon to expose the highly-flammable individual fibers—these will burst into flame with just a spark from a ferro rod or cigarette lighter.
Lip Balm Candle
When Chicago was hit with a serious blizzard in 2011, dozens of drivers were snowed into their vehicles on Lake Shore Drive. Those who ran out of gas because they left their engines running to maintain heat risked hypothermia. "It may surprise you to learn that a candle can actually provide enough heat to raise the temperature of a small space a few life-saving degrees," Stewart says. Take the cotton string from a tampon and, using a paperclip, stick it into a tube of lip-balm. Light the end, and you'll get an instant candle that can burn for about two hours. Keep the plastic tube from catching fire by slowly twisting out the lip balm as the wick burns down.
Plastic Bottle Solar Still
Staying hydrated should be among your top priorities after a disaster. (The average person can only survive two or three days without water.) Use an empty plastic bottle to filter water from plants, soil, or even mud, removing salts and heavy metals. Cut off the bottom of the bottle, then fold the bottle wall up a few inches into the interior. Next, place the mini still into a muddy puddle or pan of salt water and wait for the sun to do its work. Evaporated water will collect on the inside of the bottle, run down the sides and collect within the folded lip. When you've collected enough liquid, remove the lid and pour the distilled water into a clean container, or drink straight from the still.
Pop Can Fishing Rod
When resources run low, use a tin pop can to make what is colloquially known as a “hand-reel hobo kit”—essentially an improvised fishing pole. Use a knife or pliers to pry off the tab on the top, and break apart one of the small rings into a barbed fishing hook. Tie it to a piece of dental floss or any other string-like material, and wind the rest around the can. Use the makeshift rod to catch perch or other small fish. You can even store worms for bait inside the empty can.
Junk Food Signal Fire
When lost in the wilderness, food is a valuable commodity. However, under the right circumstances, a bag of oily chips might be better used as kindling for a signal fire than as a snack. "A single bag can help get the flames roaring," Stewart says, "and as the smoke rises, use the shiny mylar interior of the bag to reflect sun as a beacon to rescue planes."