5 Survival Tools That Kill You If Used Wrong

SVP_POST_2014_04_251There are many different tools out there that people recommend including in your survival kit because they’re multi-purpose, but one of the primary rules of survival is to use common sense. Of course you could build a house with popsicle sticks but really, is that the best tool to use? And is that a realistic way to use popsicle sticks?

Today, we’re going to bust a few myths about “multi-purpose” tools that aren’t all that they’re cracked up to be in the hopes that you’ll view your prepping realistically.

1. Newspaper as a Weapon?

We’ve read how to make a bludgeoning weapon out of newspaper but we put it to the test and it’s just not worth the effort when there are many easier, more effective tools to use as a weapon. We do believe that newspaper is a great multi-purpose stockpile item, but a rock would be a better weapon that a homemade newspaper hammer.

2. GPS Technology

Small-GPSThough GPS systems are great tools in a short-term, localized emergency, they may not get you far in a broader suvival situation for a variety of reasons. First, they depend upon towers or satellites and there’s no guarantee that those will be working. Also, they depend upon batteries, which are difficult to store en masse.

You’d be much better off learning how to use a compass and a map. Draw out maps of your area, noting water spots, hiding areas, meeting spots, and other important places. Use distances based upon your method of travel and make sure that everyone in your family has a copy of the maps and a compass in their bug-out bags.

3. Large Supplies of Hot Weapons and Ammo

Unless you’re an avid shooter and are completely comfortable using your large variety of weapons, storing a large variety of handguns and long guns may be a waste of valuable space and money.

We do believe that you should have a ready, adequate (determined by what you’re prepping for) supply of weapons but we recommend that the average person choose one or two handguns and two or three long guns and practice with those until you’re completely proficient.

If possible (and it is!) choose weapons that use the same ammo so that you don’t have to stockpile numerous types. We also highly recommend that most people have other weapons on hand that don’t depend upon bullets, because no matter how much ammo you stockpile for your guns, it’s still going to be a finite supply. On that note, it’s also a good idea to learn how to reload your shells. Pepper spray is also extremely handy for those who may not be comfortable with a gun.

4. Matches

Small-MatchesMatches, even waterproof matches, are an inefficient choice for fire-starting. Have a few as backup but don’t depend upon them for your primary source of fire.

They can get wet, you often have to use more than one because they go out, and they take up a ton of space compared to a magnesium stick or even a lighter.

We recommend having both. Even better, add a 5-in-1 survival whistle to your supplies; it will have the whiste, a fire starter, a compass, and a durable (non-glass) signal mirror too.

5. “Survival” Knives

Please don’t get us wrong here – a good knife is one of your primary, must-have survival tools. However, Rambo got it all wrong when he chose the thick-bladed, hollow-handled monstrosity that he used in the movies. First, the strength of a knife comes from the “tang” – how far it extends into the handle. Obviously, if the handle is hollow, the tang is short, making the blade weaker.

Also, if you have your sewing kit, fish hooks, matches, and compass in the handle of you knife, what happens when you drop it or lose it? That’s right – you also lose all your other goodies.

Go for a knife with a smooth (non-serrated) blade that’s got a full tang, a 6-10-inch blade that’s 3/14-1/4 inch thick. Stainless or carbon steels are probably your best choices.

Use Your Head!

When you’re putting together your stockpile or your bug-out bags, use your head. Multi-use items should certainly be included; that’s just common sense. However, packing enough aluminum foil to make your cups with is just ridiculous. Can you do it? Well sure, but it’s incredibly impractical. Cups are already created, so why not just have a foldable cup?

If you’re going to survive, you’re going to need to have a healthy dose of intelligence and common sense. That includes using your ingenuity and making impromptu tools out of uncommon objects. Still, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel if you actually have a wheel!

Do you have any stories to relate about silly uses of objects in the name of survival preparedness? If so, share them with us in the comments section below.

CCC2This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

Written by

Theresa Crouse is a full-time writer currently living in central Florida. She was born and raised in the hills of West Virginia, where she learned to farm, hunt, fish, and live off the land from an early age. She prefers to live off the grid as much as possible and does her best to follow the “leave nothing behind but footprints” philosophy. For fun, she enjoys shooting, kayaking, tinkering on her car and motorcycle, and just about anything else that involves water, going fast, or the outdoors.

Latest comments
  • would a marine corp ‘ka-bar’ be a good survival knife? Thanks.

    • Kabar all the way. I had one in Viet Nam and bought one for myself when I got out. That knife is 50 years old and I still use it. I have cut, chopped, pried and even started a few holes in hard ground with it. You can still buy one for 50 to 60 bucks. I just did for my Grandson. Got it at Sears. Yeah I couldn’t believe it either. All this bs about buy our super dooper 350.00 high speed woodsmen special, tested by some guy named after an animal, I’ll take my Kabar over any of them.
      Semper Fi AP. and a Airborne for me.

    • yes my humble opinion…
      i always carry my swiss army knife…
      and leatherman…

      …my bob has my kbar and my cold steel trench hawk(i use wire and hockey tape on handle)…

      kbar is used by marine corp…

  • There are a couple full tang knives Cold Steel Bushman is low cost and decent for around $30. Got one on sale. Lighters are low cost and work well and matches are a buck. Not a bad idea to have other options but I will take a working lighter over a fero rod. A low cost fire starter is cotton rounds dunked most of the way in liquid wax, a corner left plain. These fire right up and burn a a few minutes to get even damp wood going.

  • The # 1 item on every survival list should be Potable Water. I am not selling anything since I have a free flowing well in my back yard. It has enough iron in it that a gallon let set overnight will yield a goodly amount of scrap iron to sell :). I have a few hundred pounds of charcoal (I BB-Q a lot) and use it to filter the water for use on my tomato plants. The Charcoal will dry out and is reusable. The main point is you can go without food for weeks but will dehydrate in less than 72 hours.

  • My personal choice(s) for “survival knives” include:
    1) SOG Seal Team (7″ blade) for critical personal defense;
    2) Gerber Prodigy (4.8″ blade) for most general purpose use;
    3) SOG Seal Pup II (4.8″ blade) for concealed carry personal defense;
    4) Victorinox Swiss Army and Gerber multi-function tools replace a toolbox; and
    5) Gerber Compact Parang (machete) for clearing a campsite or chopping wood.
    Also consider a SOG Voodoo Hawk Hand Axe or FastHawk Tactical Tomahawk as functional and durable weapons or survival tools … I value both in my arsenal.

  • Apart from my “knives” I commented on earlier, the subject of matches offers an interesting opportunity. I purchased waterproof matches for my personal use along with an abundance of regular wooden matches and waterproof containers for barter, or to share with other survivors … I consider this an investment since money will most likely be meaningless and a source of fire can be invaluable for those in need … also, I stockpiled a number of butane lighters with plenty of fuel which also has a greatly increased value in a crisis … as this article clearly suggests – use your intelligence and common sense … I’ve also invested in woodworking, metalworking and other general tools that don’t require power but will prove invaluable in a post-apocalyptic survival … I’ve kept a set of books included with purchase of the Encyclopedia Britannica (my inheritance at my mom’s passing in 1990) called “The Greatest Works of Western Civilization” … these are critical to teach and restore beliefs and values of future Americans, or whatever civilization will emerge … another thought to consider is “how to” books … as an engineer, I have a collection of books on “How It Works” I bought for my children’s library … simple and informative to get broken things working again … I hope my sharing brings inspiration and hope beyond what we may feel is a pending doom … no matter what you are preparing for, prepare to survive … survive to renew and thrive … for ourselves, for our children, for our grandchildren and for theirs to come for many generations …

  • I use to prep, but don’t so much any more. The reason being is that you can store only so much food, but not for a life time. Knowledge is what I mostly go for and I stay as practical as possible. If a terriable situation occurs hunting is not really going to be an option because there will be hundreds of people in the woods. Many will not have the tenacity to stick it out. Traps I believe is a good investment and don’t be squirmish about what it catches. If it has meat on it, eat it. Mouse, chipmonk, mole, raccoon, dogs, cats and etc. Having at least one firearm will be critical. Preferably a .357 as you can hunt larger game with this load and the pistol is lighter to carry, however, a rifle is critical also with as much ammunition as you can possibly afford, and a damned good scope.
    Growing gardens in the first or second year may be functional but after probably not. Even in the beginning once your garden is discovered it will be looted. Nubian goats I understand is a preferable meat animal to raise. Small, short gestation time, easy to feed (grass).
    Having a bug out location seems ridiculous because all the roads will be blocked out in a short period of time preventing you from getting to your location. I would prefer a rural location rather than some mountain top.
    When you prep. Use common sense. don’t go haywire about it and keep the bulk of your product to non-perishable items.

  • I have a very well stocked workshop. I have a Harbor Freight store just a couple of miles away and whenever I see a tool is getting some wear, I replace it or upgrade. XLBADGER’s comments about tools made me think about how many of them reguire batteries or electric power. Now I have to do some more shopping to replace things like table saw, cutoff saw, jointer and planer, drill press, and a few other odds and ends with hand tools if anyone still makes things like that. When power goes out, I will have a lot of boat anchors to trade.

    • Woodpest,
      You might want to look at a large handsaw. One in the 36 to 42 inch range. In a power out situation it will be priceless. Easy to keep sharp with a triangular file. Cuts firewood faster and easier than an axe. And has many uses beyond forest work as well. An old timer who lived in Alaska, alone in a 11×15 ft cabin until he was in his eighties, got me to using one. He was a carpenter in the Navy and I worked as one for a career. You can find a few good ones on Amazon, but read the reviews.

      • Good advice. Especially for women. I have a variety of hand saws and find them much easier to use than a hatchett or axe. They are also much lighter to carry.

    • Well some of your tool can be converted to work with other forms of power. A lathe can be made in a springpole lathe or treadle powered . A drill with a lawn mower engine. Table saw a water wheel, or get treadmill for you dog, cow, horse or kids. Yes treadmills were used to power tools long before they made for exercise.

  • The rolled up newspaper is NOT used as a bludgeon ! It is used as stabbing weapon directed at the solar plexus, trachea, armpit, eyes and kidneys. Anyone who has taken edged weapons training can verify this.jay

  • How long does anyone think they will be safe with starving hoards running amuck? A few days maybe. It will be like Mad Max time. Unless you are in a hole in the wilderness totally away from people forget it. Even in a large group there won’t be much of a chance because a bigger group will show up. Once most of the population is gone we might have a chance but I imagine the whole planet will be contaminated by then. Another Mars. Humans are so predictable. They never learn, but if prepping makes us feel a little secure, do it. I have done some, but only for a natural disaster. (Hard to tell, nowadays, since most are manmade and geo-engineered.) Sorry, but I tend to see things darkly or more to the point, typical of mankind’s actions in the past. WAR and genocide. God help us as no one else will.

  • …on the “rambo” knife comment.
    I agree with you full tamg etc.

    I read and reread the first book many years before hollywood and Stalone took it over. The book was excelent…the movie did it no justice.

  • About powering tools, etc.: Don’t forget steam. Learn now how to make a steam engine.

    Also, along with treadmills, a good bicycle can drive many a tool. Also a treadle sewing machine.

    Don’t forget to stock a wide variety of drill bits. A hand held auger will be indispensable. A speed handle can double for this task if you have an adjustable bit holder.

    If you can find them, stock up wet cell batteries WITHOUT the acid. Store the acid separately until needed.

    A six foot windmill can be used to drive a generator or pump.

    As for knives, learn how to fight with them while you still have the time. Don’t be in a big hurry to throw it at someone, you may be throwing away your last weapon.

  • Why is it everybody seems to think that when using matches that you shouldn’t light the same stuff you light when using a flint, bow-drill, etc.? Touchwood, tinder fungus, char cloth,etc. can all be lit with a match and they don’t blow out because there is some wind. True you can run out of matches, they don’t work when wet, are easy to blowout, but flint, both natural and man-made will also wear out, however you do usually get more fires started for the space they take up.

  • All the tools are great when you have two functioning hands. Plan if you have one hand damaged as a serious injury. Cold i another thing that make hands stiffen up and hard to move. I start with the ignghter we use to light a torch. The flint can be replaced and the tinder set in the cup. it can be used with one hand and with gloves. The knife should have a handle that is comfortable with glove use. With a fire started the other things become easier. Because I haven’t the strength while approaching seventy five, I find I must think a bit different to make my jobs easier. If you have tools that help you survive id disabled then it should be easy for any other condition. I see all the Altoid hany dandy do all survival its and ask these people do you really want to stake your life on a toy. Do yourself a favor and limit these contents to bandages and antiseptic.