4 Essential (and Common) Household Items To Have During a Crisis

duct tape photo: Duct Tape duct-tape-3m.jpg

We preppers are well aware that the world is not a perfect place. A whole lot can happen in a very short amount of time: like how a hurricane can gut an entire city overnight. An earthquake can topple bridges and large buildings in minutes, and even a solar flare can send society tumbling into anarchy within days.

But let’s not forget about how we can also be caught off guard, away from our preps and gear. You’ve probably played this scenario in your mind a few times already…

The Scenario

You leave for the weekend to visit the in-laws without your gear, thinking, “There’s no way something crazy is going to happen while we’re gone.” And then, the unthinkable happens.

You’re suddenly in a crisis scenario …possibly miles from your stash of survival goodies and just no way to get to them.

So, what are you going to do?

I’ve always said that a prepper is someone who gathers knowledge and supplies to survive a crisis. A survivalist is someone knowledgeable who prepares to have no supplies when the crisis unfolds.

No ‘survival supplies’? Oh contraire, my friends. I can already think of 4 that would certainly be stored at the in-laws’ place.

Cotton Balls & Petroleum Jelly

Want to know a cheap, easy way of starting a fire –even if you left your trioxane tablets back at home?

Go to the upstairs bathroom and open the linen closet or mirror cabinet. Grab the Vaseline, about 15 cotton balls and a prescription pill container.

All you need to do is take a cotton ball, dip it in the petroleum jelly, and shove it into the pill container. Then, repeat until the container is completely full.

When you need to start a fire, simply hit that puppy with one of the in-laws’ 5,000 matches (because his mom loves her candles), and it will burn consistently for a good 3-5 minutes. At that point, starting a fire is idiot-proof.

Oh, and don’t wipe the stickiness off your hands. You can also use the Vaseline that was inevitably left on your fingers for lip balm. Waste not; want not!

Duct Tape

Let’s face it, this one’s a given. Here’s just a short list of all the things you can do with the wonderful loveliness of duct tape.

  • Repair nylons and plastics from tents to patio furniture covers, which can also act as a water resistant bag.
  • Rip it into strips and create a synthetic rope (which is surprisingly strong)
  • Rip it into very thin strips and create yet another fire starter, which will burn for up to 15 minutes.
  • Temporarily patch clothing
  • Secure dressings on a wound with a cotton bandana or ripped-off swaths of the living room drapes
  • Burn the duct tape to use as signaling, if there’s snow on the ground. It will burn with a smelly, dark black smoke that will contrast against the white landscape.

And that isn’t even close to scratching the surface, as to how useful duct tape can be. If anything, it’s probably the most important supply in the home and in your preps.


This one is often overlooked, but there are some fantastic uses for the New York Times. And yes, even the one that’s been lying on your in-law’s front porch since last autumn.

For instance, newspaper can provide excellent insulation for cold evenings. Simply crumple up the lose papers and stuff the loose wads under your clothing. You’d be surprised as to just how warm this can keep you.

Just make sure to have a layer under the crumpled wads, because that gets itchy quickly.

Also, if you’ve got a whole ton of newspaper and other junk mail just lying about the house, then you can actually purchase a device that will turn it into logs for burning.

It’s basically nothing more than a compressor that uses water to break down the fibers in the paper. Once you’ve got full compression, you can remove the wet log and let it dry.

If the in-laws have a chimney, then you’re in luck. If they don’t…

Who cares if your neighborhood doesn’t allow bonfires, use the backyard anyway. It’s not like you’re going to get reprimanded by the homeowners association.

Alicia grew up in Alaska where she earned her hunter and wilderness safety license at age 13. She now works as a content coordinator for a tech company in Pennsylvania and blogs in her free time at Homey Improvements.

3 thoughts on “4 Essential (and Common) Household Items To Have During a Crisis

  • July 11, 2014 at 7:37 am

    Garbage bags: Use as an emergency poncho, can be used to water proof an emergency shelter for a puppy or cats: Duct tape the plastic to the outside of a large cardboard box, also the flaps: Place a few old sweaters in it, and place it on the back porch- place a few heavy stones, bricks or garden urns around it to anchor in place.This is a TEMPORARY shelter, of course.

  • July 11, 2014 at 6:03 am

    Duct tape can do anything. I am convinced of it. You can make a splint, a rope and use it in so many ways. I agree that has to be number one on the list.

  • July 10, 2014 at 7:37 pm

    Yes, very true. Im pretty sure my in-laws have these things laying around the house as well! Duct tape is def a must. My brother put duct tape in my nephews stockings this past Xmas. They are 8 and 10. It was favorited even over the candy. Proud prepper aunt right here!


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: