Survival skills are found in the most unexpected of places. A lot of the survival tips we come across today have been passed down from generation to generation. Sadly, these survival skills seem to fall by the wayside as time goes on. Much to my surprise, I recently stumbled across a treasure trove of “old school” survival tips that many of us today have never heard…
16 Long Lost Survival Skills You Need to Know
The New York Public Library has a great collection of old materials, and among them are the old cigarette cards you see below. These cards were included in old cigarette packs and have great information about what to do in emergency situations around the house, how to administer emergency first aid, and other great tips. (Believe me… this is the only time you’ll hear me say something good came out of a cigarette pack!)
1. How To Purify Water In Cistern
Ran out of fresh water to drink? Don’t worry, because you can purify a water in a cistern with a very simple trick. All you need to do is add a tablespoonful of powdered alum to 16 to 20 gallons of water. Wait for several hours, then you’ve got yourself fresh and pure water!
2. How To Detect Escaping Gas
A gas leak is a dangerous situation which can blow up your house if not attended to immediately. To detect a gas leak, all you need to do is paint a strong soap solution on the suspected pipe to produce bubbles from the escaping point. Once you detected where the escaping point is, you can fix the problem straight away.
3. How To Measure With Coins
So you’re out in the wilderness need to measure something but have no measuring tools with you. Check your pockets for some spare change. A penny, for example, weighs around 2.5 grams and has a 19.05mm diameter. For the complete list of measurement of coins, check this out.
4. How To Pick Up Broken Glass
Accidents happen and sometimes, you can’t avoid breaking a glass. To clean up the broken pieces, use a soft damp cloth to ensure the small splinters are picked up as well. Ideally, you should use an old rag so you can throw it away with the broken glass once you’re done.
5. How To Treat Sprains
If you sprained yourself, get some cloth you could use for wrapping and a cold water in a jar. Elevate the sprained joint then wrap it with the cloth. Put the cold water in a jar higher than the sprained joint and get a strip of cloth. Place one end of the cloth in the jug while the other should rest upon the wrapping of your sprained joint. If you have oil or liniment with you, rub it on the injured joint as the sprain gets better.
6. How To Extract A Splinter
Extracting a splinter with your fingers or tweezers can be painful, but there is an easy way to do this with less pain. All you need is a wide-mouthed bottle filled with hot water. Ensure the hot water is up to nearly the bottle’s brim then press it tightly against the affected part. This will create a suction, pulling down the flesh while the steam of the hot water will draw out the splinter.
7. How To Remove Foreign Particles From The Eye
When you’re out in the wild, you’re most probably faced with strong winds… which means you might accidentally catch a foreign particle in your eye. You can easily get rid of this foreign particle by dropping castor oil in the corner of the affected eye. If in case the foreign particle is of lime or mortar, rinse your eye with weak vinegar and water.
8. How To Treat Bite Of An Animal
Put a ligature between the wound and the rest of the body, and then cleanse the animal bite thoroughly. If you suspect the attacking animal is mad, ensure the place is well sucked. Cauterize it with silver nitrate, after cutting the flesh with a knife. Send the patient to a doctor once you perform first aid.
9. How To Make A Hack Saw Frame
A hack saw is one of the useful tools you can have. The good news is you can easily make it with just a piece of hard wood cut, saw blade, and a small screw and nut. Make a cut in the area where you will attach the saw blade. Attach the blade with screw and nut in near the handle. As shown in Fig. 2, this metal fitting is for the other end where the top should fit into the slot in your wood frame, preventing the blade to turn. The saw can be tightened by using the nut at A shown in the picture.
10. How To Make A Spirit Level
Make your own spirit level with a wooden box and a glass tube. However, you must do this carefully and accurately — especially in the construction of the box. Cork both ends of the glass tube filled with just enough water or spirit (leaving a bubble of air). Seal the tube by using a sealing wax to prevent the spirit inside from evaporating.
11. How To Use Up Coal Dust
Recycling is always a good idea, so why not turn some coal dust into bricks of fuel? Just simply mix a shovelful of coal dust to a handful of salt then add water. Stir the mixture until it turns into a stiff paste. Mold the mixture into bricks using an old tin box then let it dry on a shelf.
12. How To Make A Fire Extinguisher
Don’t have a fire extinguisher at home? You can just make one yourself by dissolving 1 lb. of salt and 1/2 lb of sal-ammoniac in 2 quarts of water. Put about a quart of the solution in thin glass bottles. If there’s a fire you want to extinguish, just dash one of the bottles into the flames.
13. How To Light A Fire Without Wood
You want to light a coal fire but there’s no wood available? No worries! You can simply use twisted pieces of paper (as shown in the image). A newspaper would be a good choice. Take about two or three sheets and start lighting your coal fire.
14. How To Pull Out Long Nails
Pulling out long nails with just a pair of pliers can be tough, but there’s an old trick for doing this successfully. Place a small piece of wood just under your pincers. Start pulling the long nail and you’ll be surprised how easy it is!
15. How To Cure Chilblains
Suffering from chilblains due to extreme cold? Just get a slice of apple and salt and your problem will be solved! Dip a slice of apple in common salt then rub it gently on the affected parts. It would be best to use a juicy apple.
16. How To Light A Match In The Wind
So, you’re out for camping and ready to start a bonfire. But, the winds are just too strong for you to light a single match. To successfully light a match in the wind, simply cut thin shavings on the match towards its striking end. In this way, the shavings will catch the fire and will make the flame stronger.
Watch this one-minute video to upgrade your survival skills:
It’s amazing how these old survival skills have been passed down from one generation to another. Thanks to the New York Public Library for digitizing these old cigarette cards found inside the cigarette packs. It truly is useful, especially for the novice survivalists out there. I hope you enjoyed the list as much as I did!
Where’s the most unexpected place you’ve come across great survival skills info? Let us know in the comments!
Start young and teach your kids how great it is to be outdoors! Read these 10 survival skills for kids.