10 Basic Household Items to Use in a Survival Situation

Jodie Weston Jodie Weston  |  Updated: July 3, 2019
10 Basic Household Items to Use in a Survival Situation

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No matter how prepared you are, survival is really about making the most of what you have on hand. Did you know there are many items sitting around your house that can protect you, no matter what kind of catastrophe strikes?

If this list is any indication, women may be the ones to stick closest to since they have some of the most useful items. If you aren’t one, hopefully, you will know one since they likely will have the best multi-purpose goods when the SHTF.

10 Basic Household Items to Use in a Survival Situation | Backdoor Survival

Household Items To Use When Disaster Strikes

No matter what you have in your storehouse, supplies can run out or you may not have prepared for every eventuality. If you are in a pinch, here are some household items that can mean the difference between life and death in a survival situation.

1.  Tampons and Pads

These two have a variety of uses. Pads are obviously an excellent way to staunch blood if someone suffers a serious wound, but they are also a great way to filter water. Tampons can do a lot of the same work. They can be used to filter water when they are fluffed out, and the string makes an excellent wick. They can both be used for tinder as well.

2.  Dried Kitchen Sponges

These sponges — like those you get at William-Sonoma — were the inspiration for U.S. Military’s tool, XStat, which works similar to a fix-a-flat. Its purpose was to stop gunshot and shrapnel wounds from bleeding out. Since XStat isn’t lying around the house, those super-compressed sponges can be used to do the same thing, though it may take a little finesse without the syringe.

3.  Bras

Snip a bra down the middle front and you have two fairly reasonable particulate filters that can be used as facemasks. You can even use the straps to tie it around the face for hand-free use. Underwire could also come in handy when metal becomes a need, the elastic straps make useful slings and, if the bras are padded, the padding can be used for tinder.

4.  Air Compressor

Air compressors will be great to have on hand in a survival situation for many reasons. Perhaps one of the most crucial is for skinning meat after a kill. Cut a small hole in the thigh of a deer you have killed and hung, insert the air compressor nozzle, and voila, the skin becomes detached from the meat.

5.  Canned Tuna

No matter the situation, wasting food isn’t a good idea. Some foods, however, are packaged in such a way that also makes them good for survival. Not much can beat canned tuna when the SHTF since it can be used as a food source and an oil lamp.

Make sure it’s oil-packed tuna, then stab a hole in the top. Use the tampon string or some newspaper as a wick and shove it into the hole, leaving about a ½” exposed. Give the oil time to soak to the wick, then light it. A can of oil-packed tuna will burn for about two hours, and the fish is still good for eating after.

6.  Chapstick

Chapstick can be used to protect lips, faces and hands against the elements in a survival situation, but it may be more important as a candle. Use wire from a bra to work the tampon-wick into the top of the chapstick. Light it up, and continue to push the chapstick up to keep the tube from melting. It should work as a candle for about two hours. Lip balm in a can works well for this, too.

7.  Alcohol

Because it can increase dehydration, most preppers don’t think to stockpile alcohol, but it can mean the difference between life and death in some situations. It’s a disinfectant, so it can be used to treat wounds and calm the injured person down. Among other uses, it can:

  • Clean a gun
  • Cook an egg
  • Kill bacteria and mold
  • Start a fire

8.  Dental Floss

More than for your mouth’s hygiene, dental floss has an unending list of uses.  It can suture a wound, seal pipes, kill a chicken, be used as a fishing line and to fix broken eyeglasses. In any situation where you might need string it can be handy, but its portability and strength make it effective beyond even that.

9.  Coffee Filters and Coffee Grounds

Prepping sometimes involves taking what no longer has traditional use and using it for survival. Coffee filters can filter water and be used as tinder, but coffee grounds are just as important. Coffee grounds can melt ice, repel pests and be used as fertilizer.

10.  Pantyhose

You can now stop throwing away pantyhose after you get a run. Add them to your stockpile because they have myriad uses. They can be used to carry things, prevent blisters, as mosquito netting, to filter water and to sprout seeds.

The Final Word

Alongside the traditional items to stockpile like salt, water, and canned goods, consider keeping a few of these items on hand. What may seem like common items that get you through your day can also help you survive a crisis. The key to survival is thinking ahead, so look beyond the prescribed use of everyday items in your home and prepare today for anything that could happen tomorrow.

Author Bio: Bobbi Peterson loves writing and regularly posts on her blog Living Life Green. She’s also a freelance writer, green living advocate and environmentalist. You can find more from Bobbi on Twitter.


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Below you will find the items mentioned in today’s article as well as other personal favorites.

Norpro Natural Pop-Up Sponges:  I used to get these sponges at Williams Sonoma but this set of 12 a better value and a lot more convenient.

GUM Butlerweave Floss Mint Waxed, 200yds (Pack of 6):  This, by far, is the best dental floss ever.  I have been so frustrated by floss that shreds or get stuck in my teeth that I was ready to try anything.  This works plus it is value priced.  These are 200-yard rolls – huge.


Aff | Tactical Flashlight

[DEAL] Ultrabright Tactical Flashlight

Never be Vulnerable in the Dark Again

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Aff | Emergency Blanket
[DEAL] Emergency Survival Blanket Get Cheap Security

13 Responses to “10 Basic Household Items to Use in a Survival Situation”

  1. Great reading Gaye. Every mind is a mine if given the time and necessity. i recently read about cig. lighters and the many uses of them. It was amazing and I think I saw it on your site. I am a diabetic and lately have been stuffing the strip cans with crappie lures and line and cotton balls with vasoline on them for tender to light easily. Keep the good stuff coming.

  2. I’d like to more about using alcohol to cook an egg. I can see that coffee grounds would make ice less slippery, but they actually melt the ice? I’m intrigued!

  3. for those of us who wear glasses, keeping some small paper clips around (and in our edc’s!) is very useful, as they can be used to replace a lost eyeglass screw. they can also be broken easily by bending back and forth, so you don’t need a wire cutter to get them down to size.

  4. Never tried the tuna lamp, but have made emergency fuel using empty tuna cans & they work great. Just wash the can, fill it with a long strip of cardboard cut to the height of the can & wound tightly into a circle, then slowly pour in melted paraffin to fill it. The cardboard should be a bit higher than the paraffin. When it cools, you light the cardboard & use as you would a can of sterno to heat food in a regular pan. Yes, learned this in the Girl Scouts, along with rubbing the bottom of the pans with bar soap so the charring will wash right off.
    Jay, you might find that a positive approach makes you feel more happy and peaceful, which – speaking of survival – leads to a long & healthy life.

  5. Tuna fish oil lamps…. Now I’ve heard it all. People who believe this nonsense are going to be the first to go. Don’t forget to plug your air compressor into the nearest tree so you can de-skin that deer thigh!

    Let’s not forget the box truck, too, in which to carry all of this crap……

    • Unfortunately Jay this works. This is an old Girl Scout project from the 60’s. So sorry that you can’t add to our knowledge here on this website, but are really good at showing us you’re a troll.
      Oh and Jay if you have a generator, as most of us do, you plug the compressor into that!

    • Sorry you don’t feel this site is useful, but fortunately a lot of us do, so make of that as you will.

      I will point out to you however, that not all disasters are going to throw us back to the stone age, so planning on alternate ways of doing things can make sense. I like to layer my preps and have stuff for sheltering in place with full utilities, with what power we can generate locally with generator (short term) and solar panels (long term), or post EMP. Having plans A thru D or further can help as things tend to happen that you can’t really expect, but having multiple options gives you flexibility…and flexibility is the key to survival. It’s great that some folks can survive in the woods with a knife and the contents of their pockets, but I’d rather not have to test that…

      BTW, If I have to bug out, then I’ll be leaving a lot of stuff behind (a box truck wouldn’t be enough for all the supplies I have stashed around the property), but that would only be in an exceptional circumstance…leaving behind a garden, water source and good shelter only makes sense if it’s a life or death decision. But everyone’s situation is different and you have to plan based on your needs, skills and what resources you have available. Remember, don’t lock yourself into a mindset and you’ll do better no matter if it’s SHTF or it’s TEOTWAWKI.

    • I was thinking the same thing. These suggestions are not only far-flung, they’re ridiculous!

  6. We use panty hose in our garden to hold up vine fruits like smaller watermelon off of the ground. They are strong and stretch to hold most items.

  7. For those of us in northern climates, pantyhose are also good for ice dams. Fill a stocking with calcium chloride pellets, tie it off, then toss it onto the ice dam. The pellets will still work through the hosiery and cut a path through the ice. A nice DIY solution if you can’t find the ice melt pucks at the hardware store (which happens every season up here unless you buy them early…)

  8. I have been using panty hose to store my fruit. I add about 6-8 fruits per leg. Other wise, it gets too heavy. I then keep them tied to my close-line with an easy-to-pull knot. They are easy to access and are bug free and animal free. So far I have used grapefruit, oranges, apples, and pears. I have been toying around with some ideas to improve on this.

  9. Love this article! It has things I hadn’t ever thought of. And I always save pantyhose & knee-hi’s to use in the garden for tying up tomato branches and other staked produce. Unlike twine, they are soft & cushion the branch – no bending or breaking.

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