10 Must-Have Survival Tools (You Probably Already Own)

Updated on April 16, 2019
Kathleen Odenthal profile image

Kathleen Odenthal is an entrepreneur and stay-at-home mom juggling a business and a toddler all at the same time.

Is Your House Flooding? Grab the Phonebook

Floods are a common result of many natural disasters, and can even happen when you least expect it. Pipes break, septic systems malfunction, and before you know it, water can be flooding through your house in an instant.

This is when you should reach for your phonebook. No, you don't need the phonebook to call for help. You need the phonebook to absorb as much water as possible. Simply tear up the pages one by one, crumple them up, and toss them around the flooded area.

If the flood is coming from something broken in your home, you can use large clumps of torn up pages from the phonebook to try to slow down the flow of water. This will buy you time to call for help.

You Would Be Amazed by How Many Common Everyday Items Can Be Used in the Event of an Emergency

Power Outage? Grab the Engine Oil

Back up generators have become regular household items for millions of people. With natural disasters on the rise, power outages are a regular occurrence; however, many people don't realize the benefit engine oil can serve when you need to use your generator.

Those who own generators know that gas is the fuel that keeps the generator running, but many owners of generators don't realize that engine oil can greatly improve how well a generator functions.

Pouring engine oil into your generator will help it run more effectively, more efficiently and reduce wear and tear - making your generator last much longer than it would normally. The amount of engine oil needed depends on the size of your generator.

Duct Tape Is Extremely Versatile

Duct Tape: A Quick Fix for Almost Anything

Duct tape is the number one survival tool anyone could have on hand. Versatile and strong, duct tape was first used during WWII to keep moisture out of ammunition boxes, to repair guns, and to patch up holes in military vehicles caused by gunshots.

Since then, people have found thousands of uses for duct tape. Duct tape can be used in place of bandages to cover wounds, patch up holes, fix leaks and more. Just about the only thing you should never use duct tape for is to seal holes in your air ducts. It loses its adhesiveness pretty quickly from the heat that comes out of your air ducts.

Aluminum Foil: Almost as Versatile as Duct Tape

Aluminum foil has been around for almost 100 years, and it serves many purposes. You can use foil to wrap and cook food. You can use it to make a funnel. Aluminum foil can even work as a knife sharpener!

Aluminum foil can warm up rooms (wrap up plywood and place it behind a radiator to increase the amount of heat without increasing your heating costs). It can also be used to cool down rooms (just tape foil over a window, and it will deflect heat coming from the sun).

Rolled up aluminum foil can also work well to remove rust from pipes, generators and more.

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No Power to Shower? Stock Up on Baby Wipes

This may not be the best survival tool, but if you are suffering from a prolonged power outage or are trapped somewhere away from home, you will be very grateful to have baby wipes at your disposable.

A quick and easy way to clean and sanitize open wounds, baby wipes also serve the purpose of make-shift showers when you have no other options.

WD-40: Duct Tape in a Can

Invented in 1953, WD-40 has the versatility of duct tape, in the convenient packaging of a spray bottle. Designed to prevent rust and corrosion, since 1953 people have found countless other uses for WD-40.

WD-40 can protect boots from winter weather, it can protect your vehicle from snow buildup on the windows, it can be used as a pest repellent, and it can even soothe bee stings.

A Map: No, Not One on Your Smartphone

Many people no longer utilize road maps as they did in the past. This is because of the ample supply of GPS applications available on almost every phone. The caveat of these handy apps is that they only work when you can get a signal.

If you are faced with a power outage and need to evacuate, your smartphone won't seem so smart. This is why it is always important to keep a road map in your car in case of emergencies.

Water Is a Crucial Item During a Catastrophe

Water, Water Everywhere, But Not a Drop to Drink

Whether you are in the "comfort" of your home and a disaster hits, or you in the middle of nowhere, your primary concern should be finding a safe water supply.

The recommendation from experts is that you store a minimum of three gallons of water per person at your home to prevent a water shortage during emergencies. Always boil the water before you use it for drinking purposes.

For those who are not at home and need to find a water supply, the best sources of water are springs, head-water streams, and morning dew.

No Power? Hope You Stocked Up on Flashlights

This one may be more obvious than other items listed, but no piece covering survival tools is complete without mentioning batteries and flashlights.

Batteries serve a wide range of uses in emergencies, supplying power when you need it most. Most importantly, batteries keep flashlights running when you have no other way to generate light.

It's helpful to not only have several flashlights available (ideally, stored in different parts of the house) as well as different types of batteries.

Most People Are NOT Prepared for an Emergency: Don't Let Yourself Be One of Them!

When Disaster Strikes, Cash Is King

Cold Hard Cash

Did you know that ATM machines were around for over a decade before they became popular? Designed in the 60s, when the ATM machine was first released to the public they were hardly ever used because people didn't trust this new technology to protect their private information.

It wasn't until a major blizzard hit New York City, paralyzing the metropolitan area, that ATM machines began to gain popularity. People had no ability to access cash except for the ATM machines. The lack of supply elsewhere instantly created a huge demand for ATMs, and after the blizzard, the fear that had prevented the public from using them had disappeared.

People have become so dependent on credit cards and debit cards that many don't even carry real cash with them anymore. However, if an emergency arises, cold hard cash is going to be the first on your list of items you will need.

This is why it is always a good idea to keep a fair amount of cash in an envelope just for emergencies.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2014 Kathleen Odenthal


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    • profile image


      5 years ago from Kouts, Indiana

      Use these offline NO SIGNAL NECESSARY!!


    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Smartphones and tablets will still work if you buy a solar charger. You may not make calls but you can still access things stored on your device

    • TLStahling profile image

      TL Stahling 

      5 years ago from US

      Good reminder of things I need to get, especially water. And, that's a great tip about the phone book pages. I never knew that.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Your mention of flashlghts....I buy several at a time, the mini LED flashlights that come with 3 AA batteries, usually for about one or two dollars. I prefer the ones with a short loop attached. I have them in the car, in my purse, by the bedside lamp, but most importantly, there is one hanging on every doorknob inside every room. That's where they belong and everyone knows where to find one in the dark. I also buy up the glow sticks that have been marked down after Halloween. Handy to have for that little bit of light in a hallway or bathroom during a power outage.

    • Royce S profile image


      5 years ago

      Great! I had never heard of some of these.

    • Kathleen Odenthal profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathleen Odenthal 

      5 years ago from Bridgewater

      I agree, I corrected myself in my follow up piece. Thanks for this note!

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I think gold or silver would be more useful than paper money

    • ubanichijioke profile image

      Alexander Thandi Ubani 

      6 years ago from Lagos

      ya, great list. All are important. You have here marshaled survival techniques many might not even remember as necessary. good job

    • Amanda108 profile image


      6 years ago from Michigan, United States

      The only one I've really got is water. Maybe some duct tape. This list is very useful!

    • Ann1Az2 profile image


      6 years ago from Orange, Texas

      All of these need to go in my emergency kit for hurricane season which is a month away! Thanks for the reminder and I never thought of aluminum foil. Great article and very useful. Voted up.

    • Highvoltagewriter profile image

      William Benner 

      6 years ago from Savannah GA.

      Excellent article with much information I never thought of before! Well done!

    • Kathleen Odenthal profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathleen Odenthal 

      6 years ago from Bridgewater

      Thanks Eddy! Hope you have a wonderful day!

    • Eiddwen profile image


      6 years ago from Wales

      A great read and voted up for sure.


    • carter06 profile image


      6 years ago from Cronulla NSW

      You've got to think of these things these days because disaster really can strike anywhere & this is a really good list Kathleen..you are so right about the map & smartphones & duct tape is awesome.. have to tweet this informative hub..cheers

    • WiccanSage profile image

      Mackenzie Sage Wright 

      6 years ago

      Excellent, nicely done. I've always told my husband, if I had enough duct tape I could possibly rule the world. Voted up, great job.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Great information and I can verify that duct tape can accomplish practically any task. Nice job, Kathleen!

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      6 years ago from The Caribbean

      Great article. Would make helpful survival brochure. Thank you for the tips and the very interesting information you added, for example, about the ATMs. Voted Up!

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image

      Kathleen Cochran 

      6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      You are so right. The time to think about an emergency is before one happens. When we lived overseas, at the first sign of trouble we filled the bathtubs. Fresh water can quickly become a luxury. Good topic. Sharing.

    • brutishspoon profile image


      6 years ago from Darlington, England

      We have a generator and camping lanterns. Foil can also save your life if you wrap it around yourself when it is cold and you have no heating. I have a propers survival version given to me after I did a Half Marathon. I keep it in my car first aid kit just in case.

      Great hub with useful ideas.

    • thinava profile image


      6 years ago


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