When emergencies happen, you can sometimes feel you are not as prepared as you could have been. While you might be familiar with the typical emergency supplies like flashlights, batteries and first aid kits, there are some everyday items in your home that may help out in a number of situations. Here are nine household items that you can use in an emergency situation.
Not only can bleach be used to disinfect your clothes, countertops and bathrooms, it can also be used to disinfect your water if it’s been declared unsafe after an emergency and boiling your water is no longer an option. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), add roughly one-eighth teaspoon of unscented, household bleach to a gallon of water. Allow to stand for 30 minutes before drinking. Make sure to follow instructions and do not add too much bleach into the water. Also, be sure your bleach is less than six months old, says The Scripps Research Institute, to help ensure it has not started to break down to its natural state of salt and water, which can render it no longer effective for purifying water.
Bed sheets and a few chairs can transform a child’s world into the coolest castle or fortress, but they can also serve as a multifunctional canvas in an emergency. You can cut them into strips for bandages or create a sling for a broken arm. Sheets can also be used as a face mask to help protect from smoke and dust, or as a privacy screen if you’re sheltering with others.
Cotton balls and medical tape can be used to bandage minor scrapes and cuts if nothing else is available, says the Marshfield Clinic. If you do not have cotton balls readily available, tampons can also serve as temporary bandages and have the added benefit of being individually wrapped, which means they are sanitary until opened.
Trash bags can be used for a variety of purposes. Whether it’s collecting water, acting as a rain poncho or creating a makeshift tent shelter, trash bags can be great in a pinch by helping to protect you and your loved ones. You can even use trash bags to heat water: Simply fill the trash bags with water and set them outside in the sunshine until the water is warm, says Science Buddies. It won’t be as hot as a shower, but the warmer water can make washing up a little more comfortable if your water heater is out.
You might be thinking, what good are frozen veggies in an emergency? If you do not have an ice pack already in your freezer, then this can be a handy substitute to help relieve any swelling or pain from a burn or bump. You can also use frozen vegetables as a quick way to cool down your body by putting them on the back of your neck in case the air conditioning goes out during extreme heat.
You can use empty food cans as cups or serving dishes if nothing else is available.
Not only can socks be a great way to help keep your feet warm, they are quite versatile for a variety of other emergency situations. They can serve as water filters to help remove debris, according to Backpacker Magazine. Socks can also be used as gloves if you’ve lost your original pair.
The varying sizes of zip-top plastic bags can make them pretty useful for all sorts of dilemmas in an emergency. Just like trash bags, you can collect water, protect important documents from water and even place over your feet to help keep them warm and dry. You can even consider wrapping your side view mirrors on your car to help keep them clean during a potential ice storm. You can simply remove the bags when you’re ready to drive and it can be one less surface to de-ice.
Duct tape is sometimes considered a “miracle” tool with so many uses. You can mend a tear or create a seal in just about anything from a broken window to a hole in your tent fabric. It’s even possible to open a jar if you do not have a manual jar opener available. You just have to wrap the jar lid with around one-half inch of tape and use the excess to pull the jar open, according to Lifehacker.com.
Being of a “hacking” mindset to understand how to use everyday household items differently might just help you and your family during an emergency.