Rock beats scissors and paper thrashes rock, but nothing beats paperclips. If I were to erect a statue for one of the many household objects that saved my sorry can more than I can count, I would definitely do it for the paperclip.
Yup, the same goggle-eyed Microsoft Word assistant that obstinately wanted to help you is the best possible tool a prepper could hope to have should he find himself corned and SHTF.
Forget about lockpicking – sure, paperclips can serve that purpose as well, but there are many other ways these bendable delights can help you. Seeing that you people are always on the lookout for multipurpose B.O.B items, in today’s article, I’m going to show you the many uses of an office paperclip. So, without further ado, here’s my roundup of paperclip survival uses.
Crafting a compass
In the darkest night or brightest day, the compass will always point the way. But what happens when the compass goes missing or, worse, damaged by a fall or something? Well, it may be possible to get back on the road again using a makeshift compass. Even better, you can do this anywhere using only your B.O.B. Here’s how to make your own compass. Bend the paperclip until you get a long segment. Use your multitool or sharp rock to cut it.
Then, take out your survival knife and magnetize the paperclip segment (most survival knives are made from steel which is known for its kick-ass magnetic properties). You can also use the cap of a Philips screwdriver or any piece of magnetized metal.
After adding some kick to the paperclip segment, grab a bowl or any kind of water container and fill it with water. Take a small leaf, put the metallic filament on it, and place it in the bowl. The small fragment will point out the north-south direction.
As you know, the worst thing that could happen to you in any SHTF situation is not being able to get in touch with the emergency services or your family.
This can happen for any number of reasons – land features (yup, some land formations won’t allow phone or short-wave signals to get through, acting like some sort of cage), carrier not having enough coverage or signal amplifier in that area might have been damaged, electromagnetic interferences, and the list goes on. You can’t do much about the smartphone since with the emergent 5G technology you will need more than a paperclip for a signal boost.
However, if you have a walkie-talkie or one of those hand-cranked portable AM\FM radios, it may be possible to amplify the signal long enough for you to get in touch with, well, anyone.
Take a paperclip out of your B.O.B and bend it until you get an L-shape. Attach your make-shift booster to the nob on the upper part of the device’s antenna and give it another try. Also works wonders for portable radios, especially when you need to tune in to NOAA’s weather radio or, perhaps, one of your local emergency broadcast stations.
Reset gadgets to factory settings
I don’t know about you, but I always had this mortal dread of gadgets dying on me during an emergency. And it happens more often than you realize. With all these new updates and drivers clogging up the memory of our smartphones, there’s no wonder that the damned thing stops working. And the last thing you’ll want in an SHTF situation is to debug your gadget.
Now, if you haven’t already switched to one of those survival phones (more battery, almost indestructible case, and fewer apps and updates), there might be a way to jump-start your phone in the field, provided that your battery still has some juice left in it. Take a small paperclip and bend it until you get a small segment.
Pop open the phone’s back cover and remove the battery. Look around for a small hole. It should have a little “reset” label on top of it. Use the tip of your bent paper clip to push the button. Keep it pressed for at least five seconds. The phone will reboot and return to factory settings – make sure you have enough battery, as this procedure will siphon at least 10 percent. You can also do the same for other devices like laptops or tablets.
Making small field repairs
Since paperclips are made from malleable steel, it doesn’t take too much imagination to realize that they can be used for just about any kind of odd job. For instance, if you’re the proud owner of a pair of prescription glasses, you may be able to replace a missing frame screw with a small piece of a paperclip.
Thorn clothes can also be fixed by securing the holes with a long piece of paperclip bent into the desired shape with a multitool. Don’t have a smartphone stand? No problem. Grab one of those heavy-duty paperclips and start bending it until you get a little seesaw-style stand.
In case you lost your fishing tools, you can always improvise some hooks using paperclips. Just secure them to the other end of a dental floss thread, and you’ll be enjoying a fish dinner in no time.
Hunting small game
They call it “survival of the fittest.” I’d rather go with the wittiest. In any SHTF situation, securing another food source become a priority, and hunting’s the way to go. Don’t go for the big game, because you won’t do shit without a hunting rifle and those things are far too heavy to carry around – the chances are that you won’t have enough time to grab your pea-shooter before scooting.
Anyway, for hunting small game like rabbits, birds, ferrets, and badgers, a blow-dart gun will provide you with all the firepower you’ll ever need. As for ammo, take out a couple of paperclips, straighten them out using your multitool, and sharpen them.
For the weapon itself, you can use a small plastic tube or a hollowed-out piece of reed (bamboo stems are also good for crafting blowguns). Place you darts inside, bait your game, aim for the head, and fire. Won’t look pretty but at least food’s back on the menu.
Small bone-splinting jobs
Nothing’s worse than stubbing your toes in a piece of furniture (those of you who have the midnight munchies will certainly know the struggle). However, there are far nastier things that could happen in the field, especially during one of those charming SHTF situation. Now, in case you someone manage to stub your toe or break a finger, you can whip out a field splint using two straight pieces of paperclips.
Put one below, one above, and use a clean cloth to secure the splints to the damaged finger or toe. Don’t forget about rubbing a bit of baking soda or washing the area with a saline solution to cut down on the swelling. Yes, I know it looks like exactly the same thing you would get after visiting a sleazy back-alley clinic, but at least you get to keep your kidneys and fingers.
Cleaning fingernail dirt
Yeah, I know that the last thing on your mind during a survival situation is a manicure, but hygiene’s very important, no matter how shitty things get. And, in this case, it’s more about preventing some nasty medical conditions than adhering to some outdated beauty rituals.
Fact one: your hands will get into contact with lots of stuff. Fact two: no matter what you do, you’ll always end up with dirt under your fingernails. Which brings us to fact number three – if you don’t remove the dirt fast enough, you can end with pleasant things like tetanus. Want more? How about panaritium? Never heard of it?
Well, it’s an infection caused by a bacterium that seeps in the tissue beneath your fingernail. The result – inflammation and, in most cases, abscess pockets forming underneath. Do you know how panaritium is treated? Surgical removal of the nail, which in your case must be done with whatever you have on hand and without any kind of anesthetic. So, If I were you, I would take out a piece of a paperclip and start removing that dirt as soon as possible. You’re welcome!
Crafting mini skewers
In the hopes that I didn’t frighten you too much with the above statements, here’s another crafty way of using skewers for those rare and relished moments spent with friends and family – cooking over a firepit.
If you’re a camper, then you know that as much as you try convincing yourself and others to bring all the stuff needed for the great outdoor cookout, there’s always something left behind or overlooked. It’s easy to forget skewers after packing everything but the kitchen’s sink.
For those great moments spent around the campfire, you can improvise tiny skewers from paper clips – just bend one of those heavy-duty office paperclips until you get a long and straight piece. Goes along great with marshmallows, but call also be used to cook meat – my wife enjoys making mini chicken and pork skewers.
Keeping your keys together
If you find yourself with no space on the keychain left for another key or token, you can always make more room by making a paperclip loop and attaching it to the chain. Keep in mind that this is a temporary solution. I would advise you against putting heavier stuff on this improv loop and to keep then entire chain inside your pocket.
You can always turn it into a more permanent solution, by looping two or more paperclips and welding them together (makes for a nice DIY keychain).
Zipper tab replacement
If I were to make a list of the most annoying things that could happen in the field, a broken zipper tab would take second place right after ripped shoelaces. Fact is that most of us remember to pack at least one extra pair of shoelaces before going camping or whatever, but never to pack replacement zipper tabs. Sure, if it’s an interior pocket, then it’s no reason for concern.
However, if the zipper tab of your parka or backpack break or go missing, that’s when shit really hits the fan. Still, if you have a pack of paperclips inside your B.O.B, a broken tab shouldn’t be a problem – just remove the broken part, make a loop out of a paperclip, attach it to the zipper, and you’re good to good.
You can do the same for your parka, side pockets, and other things that come with a zipper.
That’s it for my kick-ass list of mind-boggling ways to repurpose a dull pack of office paperclips. If you have other uses in mind, don’t be a stranger and hit the comments section.
Before you go, you may also like:
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