Improvising while prepping: Everyday items that can double duty in an emergency

As a prepper, it’s important to know which items can be used as multipurpose tools when SHTF. (h/t to

Folding knives and multi-tools are handy, but the five items below have some obvious and not so obvious uses, which makes them the perfect supplies to have during an emergency.

Grocery store vegetable produce bags

Produce bags are dispensed in rolls, but you can refold them so they’re easier to store in a wallet or a backpack. Use these plastic bags to keep your gear dry, or to store food and supplies.


An “extra-strong” magnet, which is the same size and shape as a “button” battery, can be used to confirm if an object is made of stainless steel or not or if jewelry is genuine. Additionally, you can use magnets to magnetize a needle if you need to make a compass point. Rub the needle on the magnet repeatedly (a field-expedient method).

A magnet can also be used to detect counterfeit money. Real banknotes contain iron fibers in its ink, and the fibers will move a bill that’s folded in half in an L-shape, as long as one half is vertical and the magnet is moved closer to it. (Related: 7 “extra” items for your bugout bag that would be nice to have in any emergency.)

Paper clips

The versatile paper clip can be used as a makeshift fishhook. It can even be used to extract small objects that may get stuck under your skin. With some practice, you can even use a paper clip to escape from handcuffs. Always keep a paper clip tucked in a hat liner or inside your wallet.

Safety pins

Safety pins can also be used to extract foreign debris and splinters under the skin or as a fishhook. They can also be used as a fastener to temporarily repair an article of clothing or survival gear.

Once sterilized with a flame, safety pins can be used to lance a boil or cyst. Fasten different sized safety pins to your clothing or gear so you have at least one multipurpose item when SHTF.

UST Survival Card Tool 0.5

The UST Survival Card Tool 0.5 by Ultimate Survival Technologies has a whopping 11 functions:

  • 2-position hex wrench
  • Bottle opener
  • Can opener
  • Direction indicator
  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Groove-wrench
  • Hex wrench (with 4 positions)
  • Knife
  • Lanyard hold
  • Ruler
  • Saw

This tool is the size of a credit card, and it’s made of stainless steel. It also comes with a little plastic sheath, which is useful since it has some sharp edges. Keep the back panel on the card so you can refer to the survival tool’s various functions. Keep the UST Survival Card Tool 0.5 in your wallet for emergencies.

Don’t just hoard these items. Learn how to use them as discussed above so you can survive when disaster strikes even if you lose your survival gear.

Uses for a bandanna

A bandanna, or kerchief, is another useful item to have when SHTF. Below are some of its many uses:

  • A coffee filter
  • A diaper for an infant
  • A dish rag
  • A DIY water filter (not enough to purify water, but it can help remove debris)
  • A facemask
  • A head wrap to protect you from the sun, sand, dirt, etc.
  • A tourniquet
  • An arm sling
  • As material for a food cache

You can read more articles with tips on how to prepare for emergencies at

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