|Not actually Erin.|
Picture by KJ Photography
& is used with permission.
In the GarageDuct Tape has a variety of uses, as anyone who's seen MacGyver will attest. But did you know it can also be used as tinder?
Trash Bags can be used for more than holding your trash. You can construct improvised shelters out of them, insulate yourself from the rain and cold, waterproof your feet, signal for help, etc. I talk about their many uses on in Episode 3 of GBVC.
Ziploc Bags: Why would you use these when you have trash bags? Well, these are smaller, and so they're easier to work with if you're dealing with small, loose objects. Not only can you keep snacks in them, but they're useful for keeping tinder and kindling dry. Also, if you have one of those Nalgene bottle survival kits and you need the bottle for water, what are you going to do with the stuff you dump out? Put it all in a ziploc and you're golden.
Speaking of tinder, rub some Vaseline into cotton balls and you have fire-starting fuel that's practically waterproof. ChapStick also works for this, as it contains both wax and petrolatum.
The alcohol in a small bottle of Hand Sanitizer makes a dandy fire starter/accelerant, in addition to keeping your hands free from germs.
Disposable Lighters: Since I'm on the subject of fire, let's talk about how to start one. Skip the ferro rods and bow drills -- why not pick up a pack of Bics the next time you're at the grocery store? Small, cheap, and sturdy enough to be tossed into a pack, they're great for instantly starting a fire. Even when the lighter fluid runs out, you can still use the flint and steel to make sparks.
Bleach and an eye dropper: Chaplain Tim talked about this extensively in his excellent "Bleach For Water Purification" article.
Flashlight: Pretty self-explanatory. I prefer Maglites; the AA minis can fit in your pockets and EDC/Bug Out bags, and the larger D cell lights make dandy clubs if needed.
In the KitchenManual Can Opener: If you have canned food and you don't have an opener that doesn't require electricity or batteries, you're asking for trouble. Get a manual opener from Walmart, Bed Bath & Beyond, or your grocery store. If you want to keep an opener in every bug-out bag, get a pack of P-51 openers from Amazon. My advice is to put them on bead chains so you can find them more easily, as smaller items want to shift to the bottom of packs.
Knife Sharpener: Even if it's a crappy kitchen knife sharpener, it's better than having dull knives. If you want something a bit more advanced, I recommend Lokidude's "Knife Maintenance 101" article.
Aluminum foil can be used to cook food even when the power is out. You can use it to line a box and make a solar oven. or you can wrap food in it and cook it directly on the coal/hot ashes.
Disposable aluminum foil pans can be used as pots to boil water.
Chewing Gum: In addition to making your breath pleasant, getting a nasty taste out of your mouth, and making your teeth feel cleaner, chewing on gum will also help tame hunger pangs. In addition, the chewed residue can be formed while still moist and then left to dry into an improvised adhesive or plug.
In the BathroomTampons & Maxi-pads: They stop bleeding, right? Therefore you can use them on bullet wounds (tampons) and cuts/abrasions (pads). You can also use the cotton in a tampon as a sediment filter in a water bottle, or as tinder to start a fire.
Condoms: Just go read this article to see how they can be used to store water (use the un-lubricated, non-spermicial ones for this), act as a tourniquet, and even become improvised gloves when dealing with biohazards like blood or vomit.
The mirror in a makeup compact can be used to look around corners, signal for help, and start fires.
Pantyhose can be used as a bag, or wound to create improvised bungee cordage.
Of course, this doesn't include all the regular things found in a home that can be of use in an emergency: blankets, towels, candles, first-aid kits, toilet paper, raincoats, etc.