Homemade Survival Equipment For Any Disaster

| September 25, 2013 |

Photo credit: Brendan Smialowski / AFP / Getty Images

You never know when disaster is going to strike.  You could be driving in your car, sitting in your home, or hiking on a weekend camping trip and all of a sudden you are fighting for self-survival.  That’s why it seems wise to follow the Boy Scout motto to “Be Prepared” in mind and body for whatever situation may be thrown your way.

While training and mental preparedness will always be the most important survival tools, it’s always a good idea to have the basic tools for survival at the ready wherever you go.  The good news is that it doesn’t cost or take much to prepare an emergency survival kit–all you need is some ingenuity and materials you already have around the house (plus a few extras).  Having the basic tools to prepare food, water, fire, and shelter–the critical elements of survival–provide you with much better chances of surviving any situation.

The Container – Select a small, rugged, waterproof container for storing the contents of your kit.  There are many Pelican-style waterproof cases available with hinged lids, but finding a water resistant container and sealing it inside of a marine bag or plastic bag will be sufficient.  You may have a suitable tackle or gearbox already lying in your garage or shed.  Just make sure that you choose a container that is sizable enough to store your necessary gear and is waterproof and durable enough to keep it safe and dry.

Fire-starter – Fire-starting materials are one of the most crucial components of your kit.  Include at least two methods for starting a fire, but don’t bog yourself down.  A small plastic lighter, waterproof matches and magnesium rod and striker are all good main options.  Other helpful household items include:

–  Trick birthday candles – These won’t blow out even in strong wind and can be helpful in getting tinder lit, especially in wet conditions.

–  Tea light candles – You probably have a handful of these small white candles lying around the house.  They burn longer than a match, provide a good amount of light, and they float.

–  Vaseline-coated cotton ball – Once set ablaze, these homemade fire-starters burn long and hot and are a sure thing for getting a fire started outdoors.

–  Altoids candle – These candles are easy to make and highly efficient.  Simply take a strip of corrugated cardboard and fold it to fit inside an Altoids can with enough room to close.  Insert a wick in the center and pour melted wax over the cracks in the cardboard.  You can keep a few matches and striker (or sand) paper inside the lid for an emergency candle anytime.

Never rely on just one fire-starting method.  Fire is a big morale booster–especially when alone in the wild–that provides warmth, cooks food, and makes water drinkable, all things that give you an edge to overcome the pitfalls of survival.


Water-purification – In a survival situation, food can wait.  But the body needs water, especially to hydrate and replenish an exhausted body in survival mode, so your kit will need the means to collect and purify it for drinking.  The effects of dehydration can range from headaches and disorientation to blacking out.  Consider carrying iodine purifying tablets and purchasing a purifying straw or other store-bought device.  If your kit’s container is made of sealed metal it may be suitable for boiling water, otherwise you may consider a small pot or cup.  Other handy household items to include are:

–  Small bottle of bleach – Just two drops of bleach can disinfect a quart of water in 30 minutes, acting as an addition or substitute for boiling water.

–  Gallon and quart-sized zipper bags – These are handy for carrying water, making stills, and keeping other kit items watertight.

–  Homemade alcohol stove – Alcohol stoves are popular DIY survival kit items.  They can be made fairly easily using just a soda can and knife blade–tutorials are everywhere.  Carry a small plastic bottle of rubbing alcohol for fuel to boil water, brew a cup of pine-needle tea, or make a pot of stew.

–  Condoms – Condoms (of the unlubricated variety) can expand and hold upwards of 5 gallons of water.  Don’t be surprised if you find several other ingenious uses for them in a survival situation.

Food catching – Most survivalists agree that you shouldn’t overexert yourself attempting to catch fish or game–the results are often futile.  Water is the priority and food can usually be gathered in the form of berries, nuts, mushrooms, and other gatherable items before the need to fish or hunt arises.  You should still include materials to set traps and catch fish including: parachute cord, thin gardening wire, 4-6 pound test fishing line, hooks, sinkers, and a few small lures.

First aid – A first aid kit is essential in any survival kit, as you are much more subject to injury in a wilderness or disaster survival situation.  Most things you probably have around the house: antibiotic ointment, gauze, butterfly bandages, medical tape.  Consider including a length of medical tubing, which can be used as a tourniquet, drinking straw, and bellows for a fire.

Signaling/Navigating – Make sure your kit contains a small mirror to be used for signaling search parties, among other tasks.  A compass is also an indispensible pack item, and while the keychain variety is better than nothing, consider purchasing a quality-made device.

Tools – Every survival prepper has their own preferences in what other assorted gear to store in an emergency kit.  There should be some kind of blade in the kit, be it a multi-tool or folding pocketknife.  Wire saws can also be useful for cutting wood for fire and shelter.  Duct tape should be included in every survival kit, big and small, as it has hundreds of practical uses.  Consider wrapping a length around a tongue depressor, pen, or other small instrument that can serve multiple purposes.  Also include a mini-flashlight (with extra batteries if possible) for tasks around camp and nighttime traveling.

These are just the basics–everyone has their own opinion as to what should be included and left out of emergency preparedness kits.  The tools mentioned above are some of the most basic survival gear that can serve to keep you alive until you are rescued or find your way out of the situation at hand.  Making your own survival kit allows you to customize the contents to what you can actually use and will serve you effectively.

Category: Supplies

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