Sometimes the most useful items for survival are not found on the camping aisle of your local big box store. They aren’t even found in dedicated stores like REI or Gander Mountain.
The most useful items are those with multiple purposes for the survivor. It’s those items that can be used in a variety of different ways depending on the need of the moment.
Take cotton pads for instance. I keep several in my Every Day Carry Survival Kit and they’ve come in handy on many occasions.
- Starting a fire. The fibrous strands found in cotton pads, made from real cotton not a composite nylon blend, can be fluffed and will help to catch a spark from your magnesium fire starter or Ferro rod. Even better, add a small amount of a propellant such as petroleum jelly or hand sanitizer and you’ve got a great start to a fire.
- Stopping bleeding. Cotton pads can be applied to a wound to help stop bleeding. Of course, pads that do not have a lot of loose lint strands work better since it’s less likely to get embedded in the clot and restart the bleeding when removed.
- Cleaning a wound. Cotton pads can be combined with a mild cleansing solution such as soap and water to help cleanse a dirty wound before dressing it.
- Padding medicine. There’s a reason many bottles of over the counter medicine are stuffed with cotton; makes great padding to keep the tablets from shifting around too much and allowing them to break. I use cotton pads in a small tin in my survival kit that contains ibuprofen. It keeps the tablets from rattling as I walk and protects them from breaking.
- Making a wick. If, during the course of your survival, you happen to have access to a lamp oil, you can fashion an impromptu wick by rolling and twisting two pieces of cotton together.
- Protecting a Blister. For a survivor that doesn’t have access to moleskin, some cotton held in place by a band-aid can help to protect an area where a blister is forming. Mobility is crucial for survival so protecting your feet from blisters can literally mean the difference between surviving and succumbing to the ordeal.