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In the 2008 film Gran Torino, Clint Eastwood’s character, Walt Kowalski, shows his young neighbor, Thao, his workshop. When the boy laments that he’ll never be able to collect so many tools, Kowalski pulls out just three items: WD-40, vise grips, and duct tape,

“Any man worth his salt can do half the household chores with just those three things,” Kowalski tells the boy. We can’t disagree. And those three items definitely made our list of multipurpose items you should have on hand for an emergency.

We know you’ve seen many lists of foods and supplies to stockpile for an emergency. However, these lists can be daunting in terms of the amount of money it takes to purchase them and the space required to store them.

One of the best ways to lower the impact of both concerns is to focus on multipurpose items. Let’s look at a few potentially lifesaving examples. Some of the things on our list have literally dozens of uses, from hygiene to weaponry and from hunting to keeping warm and dry.

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baking soda

You probably have a carton or two of baking soda in your pantry or in the back of your refrigerator. That’s because baking soda (also called bicarbonate of soda or sodium bicarbonate) is a common baking ingredient and works as a deodorizer.

But did you know this light, fluffy powder also has dozens of other uses? Here are just a few of the reasons you should stockpile this inexpensive product:

  • You can use it as toothpaste or mouthwash.
  • It soothes bee stings and insect bites.
  • It relieves sunburn pain and rashes.
  • You can use it as an underarm deodorant.

dental floss

Here’s another item you already have in your home. But it’s time to bulk up your supply of this dental hygiene product. In addition to helping you clean between your teeth, dental floss has the following survival uses:

  • fishing lines
  • Shoelaces
  • Woven together to make a rope
  • threads
  • Snare


Lightweight, strong, and washable, pantyhose can do much more than serve as ladies’ stockings. Here are a few survival uses for nylon pantyhose.


You know how to use this product made of synthetic polymers to repair broken household items. But did you know it has a potentially-lifesaving purpose? You can use it in an emergency to close small wounds and protect the area until new skin forms.

Trash Bags

Plastic garbage bags – especially the heavy-duty kind – have myriad uses other than their intended purpose. Here are just a few of them:

  • Backpack cover in a rainstorm
  • Makeshift poncho
  • Mattress or pillow protector
  • Ground layer for you sleeping bags
  • rain water container

Here is a list of 101 multipurpose items you should stockpile:

  1. Activated charcoal
  2. alcohol
  3. Altoids Tins
  4. aluminum cans
  5. aluminum foil
  6. Ammo Cans
  7. Aspirin
  8. Axes/Hatchets
  9. baby wipes
  10. baking soda
  11. Bandanas
  12. Ball Caps
  13. bed sheets
  14. bleach
  15. bobby pins
  16. Borax
  17. Buckets
  18. Bungee Chords
  19. candle wax
  20. Carabiners
  21. Cardboard Tubes
  22. cat litter
  23. Chap stick
  24. charcoal
  25. Chocolate
  26. cigarettes
  27. clothes pins
  28. coconut oil
  29. Coffee Filters
  30. Coffee Grounds
  31. Condoms
  32. cooking oil
  33. cornstarch
  34. cotton balls
  35. Crisco
  36. dental floss
  37. Diapers
  38. dish soap
  39. Drinking Straws
  40. dryer lint
  41. duct tape
  42. Epsom Salts
  43. flashlights
  44. Food Storage Containers
  45. Frisbees
  46. Garlic
  47. Glass Bottles
  48. Glow Sticks
  49. Hand Sanitizer
  50. honey
  51. hydrogen peroxide
  52. Knives
  53. lipstick
  54. mirrors
  55. Mosquito Netting
  56. Mouthwash
  57. Multi-Tools
  58. Mylar Blquestions
  59. nail polish
  60. nail polish remover
  61. olive oil
  62. Pantyhose
  63. Paper Clips
  64. paracord
  65. Pencils
  66. Pill Bottles
  67. plastic grocery bags
  68. Plastic Bottles and Jugs
  69. Plastic Sheeting
  70. plastic shower curtains
  71. ponchos
  72. PVC Pipes
  73. Q-Tips
  74. Rope
  75. rubbing alcohol
  76. safety pins
  77. salt
  78. Sanitary Pads and tampons
  79. Sandbags
  80. sand paper
  81. Silica Gel Packets
  82. smartphones
  83. soap
  84. Socks
  85. steel wool
  86. Sugar
  87. Super Glue
  88. T-shirts
  89. Tarps
  90. Trash Bags
  91. Vaseline
  92. vise grips
  93. white vinegar
  94. Watches
  95. WD-40
  96. witch hazel
  97. Wire Coat Hangers
  98. wood ashes
  99. Wool Blankets
  100. zip ties
  101. Ziploc Bags

As severe weather events become more commonplace and geopolitical events continue to teeter on a precarious edge, it is not only adventurers who may face survival scenarios.

A Virginia woman who only gives her first name, Christina, has faced three major hurricanes this century. She shares some of her advice on the National Weather Service website focused on hurricane preparation.

“I have been through three major hurricanes that tore up my area of ​​Virginia pretty badly,” Christina writes. “I do not play with these storms.

“Don’t think just because you’re not taking a direct hit that it can’t be destructive! Prepare ahead of time! Buy lots of water, fill up large buckets with water to flush toilets, buy batteriescharcoal to cook food, table food like sandwiches peanut butter and jelly will help too.

“Always have paper plates and plastic utensils. Get baby wipes for personal hygiene for everyone, not just babies. Fill your vehicles up with gas, and remember your pets! Get extra pet food, litter, etc. Get your prescription and over-the-counter medicines ahead of time! And don’t forget you need an NOAA Weather Radio when the power goes out to stay on top of things!

“Be prepared to be self-sustaining for days because you will be without power for days and possibly stranded for days. Do not ever wait until the last minute to gather supplies, and if they tell you to evacuate, then do it!”

Every family’s needs are a little bit different, depending on the size and the age range of your family members. The type of emergency will determine the supplies you may need as well.

However, you can cut down on the number of items you need by gathering as many multipurpose items as you can. What multipurpose items would you add to our list?

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