In a perfect world when a disaster happens you would have everything needed to survive. Of course, in a perfect world disaster and catastrophes would obligingly never happen. Yet having to contend with those frequent bad things that befall us at the most inconvenient times is a consequence of living in the real world. And as Murphy’s Law would have it, one of those times will be the one time you leave your bag of emergency equipment on the workbench in the garage. Due to this law of crappy timing, consider learning how to make emergency essentials out of commonplace objects or as an homage to classic ’80’s TV, how to MacGyver your way through an emergency.
5 Ways to Survive
When night falls without a flashlight, how can you light your way? No camp stove? How will you cook food or boil water to drink? Can you catch fish without a fishing pole and lure? Is it possible to open a can without a can opener? What about staying warm without a fire?
1) Light it up
Technology is a great thing, isn’t it? Everything these days has a light, from key chains to multipliers to cellphones, even saw an umbrella with one but let’s face it, batteries die. And when they do, you’ll still need a light when the sun goes down. And for that task go with the tried and true, old school way to light the way, a candle.
There are several candle hack ideas out there with most incorporating oil of various types, a container for the oil and a homemade wick. First, how to make a wick. Any cotton fabric, twine or fiber will work by either twisting it up into a coil, or wrapping it around a wire or toothpick for support. Cooking oil (vegetable, olive, canola) is an excellent fuel source. Poured into some sort of container, anything from an orange peel to a glass jar to a tin can will work as long as the wick will stand up in it with about a quarter inch above the surface. A stick of butter is its own candle, just insert a wick, coat it in some butter and light it. A can of tuna in oil is a ready-made candle as well. Poke a hole in the top, insert a wick that will soak up some of the oil and light it.
Another simple candle is a paper wrapped crayon. Start by melting the bottom slightly and press it down onto a nonflammable surface so the crayon will stand on its own. Clip the tip down to the paper and hold it to a flame until it lights. The paper, this time, is the fuel source while the wax crayon serves as a wick. The crayon candle is good for about half an hour.
2) Improvised Stove
Just as there are several ways to make a candle, so there are about as many to make an improvised stove. Any metal can is a potential emergency hobo stove. Punch a series of holes near the bottom and along the top near the rims of the can for air. Then cut a rectangle piece out near the bottom, large enough to insert tinder and additional fuel (wood) into. Light your tinder and slide it through the rectangle, adding larger pieces of wood to build up the heat. With a couple metal strips laid over the opening, another can or appropriately sized pot can be set on top to cook or boil water for drinking.
3) Flowerpot Space Heater
For once the weatherman was right. The storm hit just after six, dropping a foot of snow in the first hour and a half but that was before the winds barreled through whipping the skies into a frenzy. Comfortable inside your home, the temperature plummets outside as the blizzard rages just beyond sending a slight chill up your spine, grateful the family is safe indoors. Secure and cozy until the house goes dark, the billowing sound of the heater replaced by the raging weather outdoors. No more heat, what do you do now? How about a flowerpot space heater?
Start with two clay or ceramic flower pots (one larger than the other), 2 to 3 candles and a metal tray with raised sides or a few bricks. Set the lit candles in a row in the tray or surrounded by the bricks, spaced no longer than the diameter of the smaller pot’s top,. Place the smaller pot upside down atop the tray’s raised sides or on top of the bricks, directly over the candles. Then place the larger pot over the smaller one. There should be enough space inside between the larger and smaller pots for air to circulate within, from under the rims and through their bottom drain holes. The candles will warm the pots, and the air circulating in and out, providing warmth to a room. Two or more of these will go a long way toward staving off the freezing cold of rampaging blizzard
4) Fishing Without
Imagine, the worst has happened, society has fallen and food is scarce but the river down from your bug-out camp is running strong with trout. Unfortunately, your bug-out bag packing plans didn’t include a breakdown fishing pole. What to do? Did you happen to pack a water bottle? How about some twine of decent strength? I’m sure somewhere along the way you saw a crushed soda can. Go back for it. Tie and wrap the twine around the bottle’s neck then pull the tab from the soda can and tie it to the end of the line. Clip one side off the tab for a makeshift hook. This in of itself may be shiny enough for the fish to bite on but to increase your chances go digging for worms or search out grasshoppers as bait.
5) Food, food all around but not a can opener in sight
While the tin can (not made of tin anymore) was a leap forward in food preservation, it can be an infuriating thing for a starving soul without a can opener or knife. Luckily there are a couple of methods for opening a can in the absence of the traditional tool and one involves a spoon. Holding a spoon by the handle with a gloved hand, or wrapped in a towel, work the end of the spoon along an approximate one-inch section of the can at the rim. Working the spoon back and forth repeatedly will eventually weaken the metal to a point it will break through. From there it is easy to punch through the can’s lid along the rim just as you would with an opener. The second option is to turn the can upside down and vigorously rub it on a slab of concrete until the metal is fatigued enough to pop off the top.