Estimated reading time: 8 minutes
Most people have become so dependent on technology that they’re not even a little prepared for a true survival situation, let alone attempting to survive it without any traditional survival gear.
In a situation such as a natural disaster, terrorist attack, or economic collapse where you are stranded away from your home and without any gear, you will have to find simple, everyday items and figure out how you can use them to survive.
For example, can you get a fire going without a lighter? Would you know what to do if you got a flat tire? Or if someone a deep cut and you don’t have any first aid supplies? If not, then you should find the hacks in this article very useful.
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Here are 21 random urban survival hacks that will save your ass.
1. Cordage From a 2 Liter Bottle
If you need some cordage but don’t have any, you can use your knife to get strong cordage from a 2-liter bottle. Use a piece of wood to hold the bottle steady as you turn it against the knife blade and slice off your cordage.
2. Water Bottle Raft
If you collect enough water bottles, you can lash them all together under a tarp or garbage bag for a makeshift raft. This could come in useful for traveling downriver in a city should the streets be blocked off.
3. Crayon Candles
This one is easy. Hold a lighter under the bottom of a crayon until it melts enough to where you can stick it to a flat surface such as a plate. This way it won’t fall over. Then light the top of the crayon. Once it gets going, it will burn for a long time.
4. Orange Candle
If you don’t have any crayons lying around, you still have alternatives. An orange is one such example: slice the peel in half and then remove the fruit, but keep the stem in the center. Pour some olive oil into it, use the stem as a wick, and light it. These are just a couple of many ordinary things you can turn into candles.
5. Soda Can Light
Use a knife to cut out a window in a soda can and then place a candle inside. The tin inside of the can will reflect the light back across the room to make it much brighter than the candle alone would be.
6. Battery and Steel Wool Fire Starter
Bring a piece of steel wool into contact with the terminal of a battery. This will produce sparks, which you can then use to light your tinder on fire. Here are some other unusual ways to start a fire.
7. Phone Case Cash Holder
You never know when you will need to barter in a survival situation or what you will need to barter for. Store some $20 bills in between your phone case and your phone so that you will always have some cash on hand.
8. Watch Compass
If you forgot your compass or don’t have one, the analog watch wrapped around your wrist will do. Tilt the hour hand towards the sun and draw a line between the 12 o’clock and the hour hand. This line is your north to south line.
9. Toothpaste To Treat Insect Bites
When applied to an insect bite, toothpaste will cause the pain and swelling to go down significantly. Be careful, though. If you’ve been scratching at it and it has become an open wound, then the toothpaste will sting.
10. Water From Hoses and Sprinklers
If the water in your city isn’t running anymore, there are a few places you can find extra water that other people probably won’t have thought of. For example, garden hoses and sprinkler systems. But be sure to purify it before drinking it.
11. Garbage Bag Ponchos
When it starts to rain, simply use an ordinary garbage bag as a makeshift poncho. Cut holes through the tops and sides for your head and arms. That is just one of several dozen survival uses for garbage bags.
12. Soda Tab Fishing Hooks
Remove the tabs from soda cans, and then use a pair of pliers or scissors to pry them into the shape of fishing hooks. Pierce bait through the hook and attach it to a line to begin fishing.
13. Leaves For Insulation
When you’re cold from the wind or rain, collect lots of dry leaves and stuff them into your jacket. It won’t give you a whole lot of warmth, but it will do a good job at insulating you from moisture.
14. AAA Batteries + Tin Foil = AA Batteries
If you have a device that takes AA batteries but all you have are AAA batteries, you can use tin foil to fill in the gaps. It really works!
15. Dental Floss Clothesline
Wrap multiple strands of clothesline together and then stretch them between two ends to make a clothesline. The more strands you use, the stronger it will be. Here are some other great uses for dental floss.
16. Chap Stick for Small Cuts
If you get lots of small cuts from crawling under fences, trekking through bushes, climbing trees, and so forth, a quick and easy to way to stop them from bleeding is with chap stick. Doing this will lower the chance that one of those cuts gets infected. This is just one of many other uses for chap stick.
17. Duct Tape Butterfly Bandage
For more serious injuries such as an open wound, you need to close it off quickly to avoid infection. Once you’ve flushed the wound, you can use duct tape and scissors to make a butterfly bandage.
18. Fix a Flat Tire With Grass
This is one of those hacks that you should only use in an end-of-the-world type scenario where you absolutely have to keep driving to make it to safety. Remove the tire, cut slits in the side of the tire and start stuffing it with grass until it’s nice and firm, then put it back on your car. It’s not a long-term solution, but it will keep you going for a while.
19. Use Chips as Kindling
If you’re having trouble finding dry kindling to start a fire, use some regular chips. They are dry and full of fat so they burn easily.
20. Ziploc Bag Electronic Device Protector
Keeping your electronic devices such as your GPS or phone dry will be crucial so you can navigate or communicate with others. When traveling, store them inside airtight Ziploc bags to keep out moisture.
21. Swim Goggles to Protect Eyes
If you’re in an area with lots of smoke and/or ash in the air, you should tie a bandana or something similar over your mouth and nose. But what about your eyes? If stuff in the air is stinging your eyes, put on a pair of swim goggles to protect them.
These hacks are pretty random, so I may keep adding to this list as I think of more ideas. If you have any urban survival hacks you’d like to share, leave a comment and tell me about it.
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As kids, my siblings and I used to drink from the hose more often than I can recall. We never got sick, and we didn’t filter the hose water. We just drank from the hose rather than bother go inside for a drink.
Fed Up! says
You have sabotaged print as pdf with the stupid Pinterest graphics, which populates many full page P’s in the print.
Please get your act together!
Alan Urban says
I had to switch to a different social share button plugin, and it keeps adding the Pinterest icons to the print-friendly page. I can’t figure out how to stop it, so I finally just switched to a different plugin. The pin icons shouldn’t be on the print friendly pages anymore.
One way to keep warm is to snuggle up with some pretty ‘hot’ women.
One adult can output about 700 Btu’s per hour of heat.
3 adults – 1/2 of an electric space heater output.
Horizontal exercise puts out even more heat.
Shoe strings can be used to make cordage too.
Fishing string. Strips of cloth.
PB Johnston says
Impressive and creative options that most of us think we’ll never use, but it’s awfully nice to have them locked in memory if the need arises. I’d rather know it and not need it than need it and be at a loss for what can be done to improve a bad situation. Some good ideas here – particularly the Watch Compass. Several of these are potential life-savers and I take them very seriously. Thanks for sharing it.
Keep these ideas coming. If its the end of the world or not the need to Macgyver your problems with these solutions is a top priority. As Mac said the stuff is already there I just fine a different way(s) to use them.
As times head south, you don’t have to be at the end to use the stuff on a daily bases.
After retiring as a steelworker I worked briefly, part-time, in a discount tire shop that made most of its money from selling used tires. One day a guy came in with a tire that had a rag stuffed in the sidewall ! Don’t know how far he’d gone on it but it was enough to get him to the shop. By the way, the shop was outside the city so there was some distance and speed involved.
Needless to say, unsafe and not recommended at any time but I would go with this before grass at the ‘ end of the world ‘ scenario.
Michael Cobb says
I love the soda tab fishing hook idea! I will definitely be trying this.
On #10 – water from garden hoses… IF the hoses hasn’t had anu chemicals sucked back in to it then all you have to do is be able to remove lead (and most possibly other chemicals) that the hose itself has leached into the water.
I was surprised to learn that there is a reason that RV water hose is special for drinking water, they don’t leach chemicals out.
and for you hose water drinkers – there’s a difference between drinking from the hose when fresh running water is flowing through it and the water has been just soaking inside the hose…
Just DON’T use any rock that is in water!! The heat from a fire can cause it to explode in your face!
If you’ve got a fire burning for some reason or another, throw a football sized rock in the fire for a while. This thing will heat up and retain that heat for quite a long time. Using a stick or tool of some sort, maneuver it into a big pan and bring it into your home or shelter to warm a room.