Monday, August 6, 2018

Neat Condom Tricks: Not Just Balloon Animals

For those who regularly read my column, you may notice that I am a fan of multi-use items. My philosophy is, "Why carry three tools when I can carry one?" This really comes in handy when I'm limited on space and weight, or when I'm forced to use field expedient replacements.

To that end, something that I have found has a wide variety of uses, takes little space, almost no weight, and costs very little: condoms.

Birth Control
In a disaster, people react to stress in various ways. If you have a significant other, you may find that keeping a spare condom on hand can prevent a happy surprise. As a rule, I prefer latex free, since if I hand them off to someone, I don’t have to worry about a potential allergic reaction.

Water Carrier
You actually can fill up a condom with water all on its own, but it's fairly hard [ahem] to keep it in a useful shape, and being stretched by the water makes it much easier to accidentally puncture. I've found that using a nylon stocking helps to keep it in a more or less usable shape and amount, and gives it enough rigidity to make it easier to drink from. Failing having nylons on hand, a sock works just fine, even if it gives you a smaller water container. You may get funny looks, but if you have no other water container, it could save your life.

Waterproofing Electronics 
You would be amazed at what a condom will go over: cameras, cell phones, tablets, and even small laptops will fit without tearing the condom. Seriously, you would be amazed at what will fit. For those of you who have ever gone boating, or have marched through a swamp, and hoped not to destroy a digital camera/voice recorder/ cell phone, this is your answer.

Take an unlubricated condom and carefully roll it over whatever electronic device you are trying to prevent water from damaging. When the condom is over the device, tie it off at the end. If you are paranoid, like I am, use a second unlubricated condom and roll it onto the device starting at the tied off end, tying it off with a secure knot. Don't expect to untie this, just expect to cut it.

This also works on pill containers that you are not sure are waterproof, food, and just about anything that you don’t want getting wet.

Waterproofing Tinder for Fires
Insert tinder into unlubricated condom and tie off the end.

Here is the cool part: Even the lubricated condoms I tested (Lifestyle Skyn, latex free) burned when exposed to a burning wooden match. If you had to, you could probably use them as part of the tinder.

Jar Opener
Just like having a bunch of cans with no can opener is problematic, having jars that will not open is problematic. Unlubricated condoms work remarkably well: wear one as a glove, and use the extra grip to open those pickles.

Speaking of gloves...

Field-Expedient Rubber Gloves
Just like opening the jar, you can actually use them as gloves in an emergency. While it is not my first choice, if I am worried about contamination (blood pathogen, really nasty stuff I have to reach into, etc) I would rather use them as a hand covering than have nothing on my hand at all.

I've even heard stories of people using them as shower shoes.

Emergency Rubber Bands
These aren't likely to be used in an emergency, but you can use condoms as field-expedient rubber bands. They aren't as good as real bands, but better than nothing. Just cut one into rings, and if you have to, double it up.

Barrel Barrier
Roll a condom over the muzzle of your long gun while hunting. It will keep dirt, sand, dust and water out of the working of your firearm, and if you need to shoot, just shoot through it!

As you can see, there are lots of useful things you can do with condoms in an emergency.

Good luck, and don’t forget to practice. No, not like that!

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