Preparedness blog

Useful Household Items in an Emergency

By Ready Expert
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There are a wide variety of things that you can use in an emergency situation. Many times, it depends on your creativity and ingenuity in creating a use out of something in order to help you survive.

Here are some ideas on everyday household items that you can use during an emergency! Let us know what you think and let us know what we missed. Comment below!

Make-up mirror
You can use a basic pocket-sized mirror to do a lot of things, reflect the sun to focus it in different areas, use it to signal airplanes or other vehicles.

When attempting to signal an airplane, you have a few options. You can puncture a hole in the middle of the mirror and look through the mirror in order to aim the beam of light. This method can be pretty tricky though because you don’t want to break the mirror.

An easier technique is to use the visual line of a stationary post to aim the beam. You’ll be able to see the reflection on a nearby tree and can line up the top of the tree with the airplane. Use the tree as a point of reference to direct you towards the airplane or helicopter. Figure 19-5 provides an example.

You can use shoelaces for a wide variety of things. Use the shoelaces to bundle sticks, attach tarps to your shelter or more. Check out this video on how to use your shoelaces to tie up your emergency shelter.

You can also use the shoelace to create animal traps or items.

Paper clip
You can use a paperclip to create a compass that can guide you to safety.

Unfold out the paperclip into as straight of a line as possible. You’ll then want to magnetize the paperclip by taking a magnet and rubbing the same direction multiple times. You will then need to balance the paperclip on a cork or piece of styrofoam. Float the cork or styrofoam on some still water and the magnetized paperclip should face north.

With a battery you can easily start a fire to keep yourself warm. You’ll need a battery, a staple or some steel wool.

Simply rub a 9V battery on a bundle of steel wool and you’ll start to see sparks flying. Watch this demonstration below:

If your car stalls in the middle of the wilderness you can use your lipstick to write SOS message on the top of your car or on nearby rocks.

The great thing is that most lipstick colors aren’t found in nature so they will stick out even more.

Most of us don’t carry a compass at all times. Here’s a quick trick to use your wristwatch as a compass.

Point the hour hand at the sun and create an imaginary line between the hour hand and the 12 o’clock section. That imaginary line will point you south.

What else?
What else have you used in emergency situations? Show off your ingenuity and creativity and comment below.

12 years ago
12 years ago at 2:11 AM
a plastic credit card size magnafier can be put in wallet and even carried on an air plane useful for starting fire in the wilderness.
12 years ago at 3:31 AM
While moose hunting near Nabesna when I was stationed at Elmendorf AFB at Anchorage, AK., I came across a 14 yr old boy who had been target shooting with his mother and had accidentally shot himself in the leg-through and through-with a .22 revolver. No one had any first aid supplies, but I did have a blood pressure cuff because I was practicing for a EMT class. So I wrapped the wound with the cuff and inflated it until the bleeding was stopped. Then the mother transported the wounded lad to the nearest hospital, in Wasilla I believe. I heard he came out of it just fine-and wiser in the use and handling of a firearm!
12 years ago at 8:38 AM
Regarding the wrist watch as a compass; unless I am missing the obvious it doesn't appear that the wording matches the picture shown. The imaginary line from the hour hand to the 12 o'clock is angled and the solid line shows south as midway between the two.
12 years ago at 9:26 AM
Mike, it doesn't say the imaginary line is from the hour hand to 12, it is one BETWEEN hour hand and 12, that one points south.
12 years ago at 9:30 AM
Tampons - they are good to start fires and also can be used as an emergency wound dressing
12 years ago at 9:46 AM
Another trick that works well in starting a fire, is to save the cardboard rolls from bathroom tissue and paper towels; stuff them with newspaper or other scrap paper. Use them as tinder to start your fire. This works well, especially if the existing natural tinder is damp or wet.
Jim Keyes
12 years ago at 10:29 AM
Re: Tampons for wounds Feminine napkins are even better. You can use them on a variety of wounds & they won't sog out as fast as gauze bandages. Just about the only thing you can use for a sucking chest wound or deep groin wound.I always carry 3 napkins, three rolls of elastic bandage and several pair of gloves in my car. Makes those dinky "first aid" kits look as poor as they are!
12 years ago at 1:44 PM
Good info. I teach it to my kids...just in case!
Dave W.
12 years ago at 1:54 PM
I know you can find 10,000 useful things in your house.But what do you have in your car?Or better yet what do you have on you right now?I made a list of simple things you should have on you at all time. 1.A Bic lighter.Even if you don't smoke you should carry one.And if you do smoke carry 2. 2.A good folding knife.You don't need a $100 knife.Put your knife to the test.Take your knife and a rock and see if you can cut a thick tree branch with it. 3.A L.E.D.flash light.You can get them for $2.And the trick is you change out the cheap battries with good ones.You can get 12 hours use. 4.A good pen. 5.3 sheets of paper.If you need something to write on you have it.Or it's dry tinder to start a fire.Fold it up and carry it in your wallet.
Dave W.
12 years ago at 2:23 PM
For Jim Keyes: You are right about the cheap First Aid kit.I had to add 12 things to mine.I repaced all the cheap bandaids,bandage tape,and gauze pads. I added. Hand Sanitizer Neosporin Waterproof Matches Small folding knife Real tweezers.Through out that plastic fuse puller. 20 foot of parachute cord Compass Small Scissors 2 Feminine pads After all this it would have been cheaper to buy a small case and put my own kit together.
James Noland
12 years ago at 5:55 PM
Hand Sanitizer can also be used as a fire starter. Buy a few of the P-38 type can openers, put one in your car, one on your key ring, and one in your purse. They can also be used as a striker on your fire rods.
Joe D
12 years ago at 6:11 AM
I make my own first aid kits. I was in the Marines and also a firefighter. I bought some cordura zippered puches and loaded them with these items. I keep one in each car and have given them to family and friends. Remember to update your expired items. Item qty Pocket Knife - 1 Paracord 100' - 1 Yellow light stick - 1 Latex gloves - 1 Magnesium firestarter - 1 Wet fire - 1 Handwarmers - 4 Self cling camo wrap - 1 1"x3" band aid - 7 1 3/4"x 4" band aid - 6 3/4"x3" band aid - 10 1 1/2"x3" knuckle band aid - 4 1 3/4"x2" fingertip band aid - 4 3"x3" sterile pad - 2 Anti Septic wipes - 6 Insect wipes - 4 Instant cold pack - 1 Winter face stick - 1 Benadryl - 3 Footcare kit - 1 3"x4" moleskin - 1 3"x4" precut moleskin - 1 Antiseptic towelettes - 2 3/4"x3" band aid - 3 3/8"x1 1/2" band aid - 5 Waterproof matches - 160 Zip ties black 12" - 4 Shoe lace thick 4.5" - 1 Blistex - 1 EmergenC - 3 Cyclobenzaprine muscle relaxer 10mg - 15 Ibuprofen 200mg - 40 Dayquil caplets - 8 Cough Drops - 5 soap bar - 1 Velcro straps 7" - 3 Cliff bar - 3 Tweezers - 1 Pepto bismol chewable tabs - 8 Qtips - 20 Cotton Balls - 6 Vitalyte drink mix - 2 Disposable razor - 1 Scissors small - 1 Led light small - 1 Antibiotic/burn cream - 1 Sunscreen - 1 Feminine pads - 2
10 years ago at 10:52 PM
I remember when we had a black out and we just moved into the house, all our candles were in the garage on boxes so i used my old crayons, just look for something to use like a deep lid or a small plate and light the top for the wax to drip into the base and stick the crayon on, make sure you don't rip off the label because the label is what is being used as the wick. Try to use non toxic crayons as well. Each crayon should last about half and hour or so
10 years ago at 7:41 AM
For the car carry a fire extinguisher. It could save someone's life if they are trapped.
10 years ago at 7:48 AM
To Nightfury, How do i (at the market or drug store) know what properties in a sanitary pad I don't want?
6 years ago at 7:09 PM
Look for cotton products, not synthetic materials.
Northwoods Cheryl
9 years ago at 6:02 AM
If you have a lighter such as a "BIC", and the fuel is gone, remember it will still make some very hot sparks to light tinder! Do not discard it just because it has no fuel.
6 years ago at 7:11 PM
Look for cotton products, not synthetic materials.
J Dyan Peterson-Miller
3 years ago at 2:05 PM
First aid kit: I also have Clove gum to pack into an aching tooth; an assortment of dental tools: pick, tweezers, spatula, mirror; Electrolyte tablets and water purifier straws; bandanas; silver emergency blankets (Walmart in camping dept.); Witch Hazel reduces swelling and itch from bug bites; peppermints; Imodium. I use boot laces, cotton and leather. Leather ones are best for lashing...they shrink after wetting them so make a tight joint.