The advent of the prepper trend running on the heels of a dreaded solar flare, predictions of global economic collapse, or even fears of the zombie apocalypse, has brought along with it a whole assortment of gadgetry designed for every niche duty one can imagine. But what if most of what you need is already sitting on shelves in the garage or stuffed into the kitchen junk drawer?
1) Duct Tape
First called duck tape by G.I.s during World War II for its waterproofing qualities, today’s fix-all tape was originally created for the military to make equipment repairs in the field and seal ammunition boxes against the weather. Since the famous gray tape’s entrance into the public consciousness, its functionality has increased eight-fold, at least. The question of its usefulness isn’t one of, “what can it do?” but “what can’t it do?” As a tool for today’s disaster, prepper duct tape is indispensable. A mere sampling of what it can do includes; repairing tears in tent fabric, fixing tent poles to fishing rods, binding broken bones and open wounds, it can be twisted into a rope or wrapped around a leaking radiator hose and will tape pretty much any two things together.
2) Aluminum Foil
Stuffed into a kitchen drawer or slid atop the refrigerator is another tool whose uses expand well beyond its traditional daily function. The very characteristics that make aluminum foil great for cooking are the ones that make it an effective heat insulator or reflector. The thin material can keep heat in or reflect it away depending on how it’s used. Foil can be molded into various shapes for use as a drinking cup, a container to cook in, twisted into a shiny fishing lure, flattened out to work as a signal mirror, or balled up and used as a scoring pad.
Originally, designated water displacement #40, it was designed to prevent corrosion on nuclear missiles. But just as duct tape did, once it was made available to the public and rebranded as WD-40 the uses for the contents of that familiar yellow and blue spray can grow exponentially. Among the multitude of reasons a couple of cans of WD-40 should find their way into your prepper toolkit are; waterproof camping gear and hiking boots, sprayed on windshields it will prevent ice build up, prevent rust (of course) forming on any given metal tool you will depend on during a disaster and will keep generators and engines running smoothly by removing spark plug build up or solenoid residue.
4) Garbage Bags
Large, plastic garbage bags are rivaled only by duct tape for the range of uses they have. Cut holes for your head and arms and Voilà! instant rain jacket/poncho/windbreaker. String one up flat with a slight incline to collect rainwater and direct where needed. Combine with duct tape to make a shelter or fill with leaves to form a pillow or even a mattress. Cover your bug-out bag to keep it dry or to wrap up emergency essentials and clothing to keep them dry. In addition, the large 55 gallon variety are extremely packable. Fold them up tight and they will take up virtually no space in your emergency bag, so don’t skimp on how many you stow away.
5) Dental Floss
Whether or not you heed dentists’ advice and floss each and everyday, there is bound to be a roll of dental floss somewhere in your house. Small and very packable, this average roll of 44 yards (40m) of twine all bound up into its own container has a surprisingly high tinsel strength. Use for fishing line, tying into a small animal snare or to tie sticks and branches together for a garbage bag covered shelter.
6) Pencil Sharpener
Used for more than putting a point on your disaster journal pencil, some ingenious souls have figured out a few amazing uses for this little tool. Perhaps one of the most mundane items in your home, it can be put to use sharpening tips of arrows or campfire spots all while it creates shavings perfect for fire-making tinder.
7) Regional Road Map
Yes, that’s right, one of those pain in the butt to fold back up, paper road maps. While smartphone GPS’s have evolved into the go-to tool for locating anything and everything, during a disaster cell phone networks will be overwhelmed and batteries will die. Having a handy road map that does not require signals from satellites or electricity to show you the way will help get you where you need to go.
Besides telling the time of day or night, a wristwatch can also help you navigate. By pointing the hour (small) hand at the sun and drawing an imaginary line halfway between the hour hand and the 12 you will locate South. Should you find yourself in the southern hemisphere that halfway line will point north.
This is a useful piece of fabric to have packed away. Wrap it around your head or the back of your neck for sun protection or turn it around to cover face and nose to guard against dusty or smokey conditions. A bandana can also bind a wound or to tie a splint, a tourniquet or made into a sling for an injured arm.
Yes, a cellphone, and yes I am contradicting my criticism of smartphones in #7 but despite what I said cellphones do have some benefits in emergency situations. While amidst widespread disasters cell service tends to become overwhelmed but during a personal emergency such as one where you are stranded car bound in a snowstorm or are injured hiking or camping rescuers can locate you through the phone’s GPS or they can narrow a search area by determining what cellphone towers the phone pings off. And if you conserve battery power the phone’s bright, display screen or flashlight can signal rescuers as they close in on your location.