11 Survival Life Hacks That Are Never Too Late to Learn

Approximately 2,000 people get lost in the woods each year and about 20 kids are kidnapped in the US every day. In such situations, the first 72 hours are crucial to survival. How you improvize things around you and react can be the difference between life and death.

After studying situations wherein people survived even after getting trapped in life-threatening situations, Bright Side came up with a list of tricks and hacks that you must know in order to get out safely.

Creating fire

Having a fire in a survival situation is crucial for your wellbeing. It can be used not only to cook your food, but also to boil and disinfect water and to provide you with warmth. Fire can also be used to scare away wild animals if you happen to face any.

Using chewing gum wrappers and batteries

Cut a thin strip out of a gum wrapper. Fold the strip in half and cut diagonally across the folded strip. When you unfold the strip, you should have a narrow spot at the center. Hold the ends of the strip to the positive and negative ends of a battery.

Make sure the metallic side of the strip touches the battery, not the paper side. And voilá! You will have a flame.

Note: This method works only with wrappers that have a metallic side. A few kinds of gum with metallic wrappers are Wrigley’s 5 and Extra.

The hand drill

The hand drill is the most primitive way of starting a fire and requires just a flat piece of wood, a wooden spindle, some tinder, and your bare hands. On the flat piece of wood, drill a hole and put some tinder next to it. Place the spindle in the hole and spin it while applying downward pressure on it. The friction from the spinning will cause sparks which will, in turn, light the tinder.

But keep in mind that this method is not the simplest to use and requires some amount of practice to perfect.

Using lenses

To start a fire, you can use any lens to focus sunlight on tinder. A magnifying glass, eyeglasses, or binocular lenses all work. Place the lens in such a way that you are able to concentrate the sunlight in as tiny a spot as possible. And within no time you should be able to see smoke coming out.

The only drawback with this method is that it needs sunlight to work. So if it’s nighttime or the sky is overcast, you’re out of luck!

Collecting drinkable water

Water is essential for cells, organs, and tissues and helps in regulating the body temperature as well as in maintaining bodily functions. The body continuously loses water through breathing, sweating, and digestion, so it is important to keep rehydrating. You can survive without water for 3 days, but you will feel severely dehydrated even after one. Moreover, getting drinkable water in a survival situation can be tricky, so knowing techniques to get it is of utmost importance.


If you have access to water sources like a river, lake, or pond, the water you collect from them should be boiled before you drink it. Despite the fact that boiling does not remove contaminants or particles present in the water, it effectively eliminates most microbes responsible for causing intestine-related diseases.

Dew traps

Collecting dew is an easy way to get some potable water. Using a piece of fabric like your t-shirt (the cleaner it is, the better), wipe any plants soaked with dew. Now wring out the soaked fabric into a container and you will have some water. Dew is safe to drink, but the same cannot be said about the surface in which it is collected so it is better to sterilize for safe consumption.


Transpiration is the process of water movement through a plant and evaporation through its leaves, flowers, and stems. You can use this process to collect water from the plants. All you have to do is find a leafy branch on the sunny side of the plant, cover it up with a plastic bag, and tie the open ends of the bag tightly. Now it’s time to wait and watch as the sun and the plant work their magic and collect water for you to drink.

Finding direction

If you’re lost, finding the right direction to move in can up your chances of survival.

Improvised compass

This is a very old hack and has saved thousands of human lives over the centuries. Most experienced people who venture into the wilderness carry a compass, but if you find yourself lost and without a compass, make a puddle of water or get some water in a container that you might be carrying, and let the water become still. Now, slowly lay a leaf on the water and carefully place a sewing needle or a straightened metal wire (rub it on your clothes to magnetize it) over it. The magnetic field of the Earth will slowly align the needle along the north-south line.

Using the sun

To determine directions using the sun’s rising and setting position, keep the following in mind:

  • In spring: East will be roughly where the sun has risen. West will be behind you, South on your right side, and North on your left.
  • In summer: East will be a little toward the right from the direction you see the sun rising.
  • In winter: East will be a little toward the left from the direction you see the sun rising.

Protection against insects

When you venture into wild territory, you’re bound to get a few insect bites. They might not all be harmful, but they are for sure irritants. Nature provides many remedies to keep these pesky little creatures at bay.

The burning of herbs

The smell produced by the burning of certain herbs like rosemary, thyme, or mint can keep mosquitoes and other insects at bay. Just pop them into the bonfire and you should be able to get rid of the biting insects.

Freeing your tied hands to escape a kidnapping

A survival situation can arise not only in the wilderness but also in urban settings, like getting kidnapped. The first step to escape from a kidnapping is to free your hands if they are tied using a cable tie or a handcuff.

Freeing from a cable tie

Cable ties are often used in kidnappings, especially of children. In such situations, this hack can come in very handy. The steps to follow are:

  1. Untie your shoelaces.
  2. Pass one of the shoelaces through the cable tie loop and then tie it tightly with the other shoelace.
  3. Pull your tied hands toward your chest and move the legs farthest you can so as to apply tension.
  4. Start moving your legs in a motion that would resemble cycling. The friction caused by this motion should cut open the cable tie.

Escaping a handcuff

Most standard handcuffs can be opened using a bobby pin, paper clip, or piece of wire. If you are using a bobby pin, make sure to scrape off the plastic tip from one of the ends. The steps to follow are:

  1. Straighten the metal of whatever tool you’re using, be it the bobby pin, paper clip or the piece of wire.
  2. Insert the pin halfway into the handcuff lock and bend it to form a 90-degree angle.
  3. Put the pin completely into the keyhole and bend it in the opposite direction. The tip if the pin should look like the letter “Z”.
  4. This bent pin should act as a key. Insert it into the keyhole and wiggle it. If you do it correctly, the key should lift the locking mechanism and the handcuff should unlock. Be patient as it might take some time.

Double-lock handcuffs can also be opened using this mechanism.

If however, you think you can muster enough strength to break a handcuff, this video will show you the easier way of doing it.

Venturing into the unknown sounds enticing, and some among us have certainly tried it. In doing so, have you ever feared for your life, and what measures did you take to safeguard yourself? Do you know some amazing survival stories from your friends? If yes, share them with us and we may feature them sometime soon!

Preview photo credit Shutterstock.com
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