This one’s for the ladies! Improvised Purse Survival

When I was a boy I can remember when my Mom would dump the contents of her purse on the kitchen table a couple times a year for a thorough (and much needed) cleaning.  I couldn’t believe all the stuff she would accumulate in her purse over the course of a few months!  It was always a mystery what was going to spill out onto the table.  My brother and I would anxiously watch for any random candy pieces that might scatter.  Mom’s ‘MYSTERY PURSE DUMP’ is my inspiration for this post – except now I pretty much look at everything through a survival colored lens.  So you know where this is headed…

So the photo above is probably representative of an average “MYSTERY PURSE DUMP” – give or take a few 100 items 🙂

Can the contents of an average purse be used (directly or indirectly) to meet basic human survival needs?  Let’s explore and see.



My Mom always had a spool of waxed dental floss.  This is some serious cordage.  The spool pictured above contains 55 YARDS of floss – DANG!  Waxed floss is incredibly strong – surprisingly strong actually.  Some flosses have a tensile strength of nearly 20 pounds!  It can have 100s of uses to a survivor.  Below are just a few ideas that come to mind:

  • Fishing line (also detailed below)
  • Lashing cordage (also detailed below)
  • Snare lines
  • I guarantee I can make a bow-string out of dental floss – note to self – TRY THIS!
  • Tent tie downs
  • Cordage for lashing shelter frameworks
  • Sewing and/or gear repairs
  • Clothes line
  • Hang a Bear Bag!
  • Wrap and whip other rope ends to prevent fraying
  • And the list goes ON AND ON…



Hand Sanitizer, Chap Stick & Bic Lighter

These 3 items all have something in common.  Each are excellent FIRE MAKING TOOLS!  Whether you smoke or not, a BIC lighter is an excellent piece of survival kit to keep on hand.  Hand sanitizer is not only a great personal hygiene item (which is also very important to survival) but it is also a very effective accelerant when starting fires.  It burns fast but it can help in a pinch – especially in damp conditions.  Chap stick and Lip Balm are outstanding FIRE EXTENDERS.  I’ve done a post on this already – YOU SHOULD READ IT HERE.  Mix this stuff with fluffy fire tinder such as cattail down and you’ve got an amazing fire starting aid.



Almost every girl has one of these in their purse.  Mirrors are the quintessential signaling tool and still used around the globe as an emergency rescue tool.  A reflective flash from a signal mirror can be seen for miles by a rescue team – air, water or land.  There is an art to effectively ‘aiming’ the flash from a signal mirror.  It all starts with the peace sign.

Place your target (a rescue plane for example) in the V of your peace sign.  Then, holding the signal mirror back toward your face, flash the sun’s reflection across your fingers back and forth – always keep your target in between them.  You will be able to see the reflection on your hand – confirming to you that the reflection is flashing in the direction of your target.  See the reflection on my hand below?

Signal mirrors can even be used with the light from a bright moon.  They are incredibly effective survival signaling tools and have saved many lives throughout history.  What other reflective objects can you think of besides a make-up mirror?


Feminine Hygiene Products

If you’ve not read my SURVIVAL TAMPON POST, read that here:  I’ve even added a few survival uses EXCLUSIVELY for in an article here:  Tampons make excellent:

  • Improvised first aid bandages
  • Crude water filters
  • Fire tinder


Hair Clips and Bobby Pins

These look almost exactly like items in my fishing tackle box.  Either can be fashioned into a crude improvised fishing lure or fish hook.  If you bend them in one spot repeatedly the metal will eventually break.  Don’t forget your dental floss line.  Scratch up some live bait and you’ve got some pretty descent chances of landing a fish or frog.

I found that wrapping the bottom bends of the hooks made them almost impossible to bend out flat.  I couldn’t do it with all my strength so there is no way a fish can bend it out.  I hope Blue Gill like MINT FLAVOR!



Whether working or busted a cell phone is an incredible survival resource.  I’ve done a couple of posts on this already that you should read if you haven’t already:

I’m currently working on a very detailed post about BUSTED CELL PHONE SURVIVAL SKILLS that I am sure you will enjoy – look out for it soon!


Tweezers & Nail File

Women keep all kinds of little working tools of the trade in their purses.  Of these, my favorites have to be TWEEZERS and NAIL FILES.  These just look like little weapons and I love any kind of weapon.  After a little thought, I determined that both of them would make excellent frog and fish gigs… so I went to work.

I used a 1 inch willow sapling for the gig shaft and tapered down the end.  Then, I split the end and fitted it with the gig tip (either tweezers or nail file).  Waxed dental floss made the perfect lashing cordage and held the hardware on surprisingly well.  I’ve gigged many a frog in my life and I have no doubt what so ever that this would be a very effective frog (or fish) gig.  These tweezer points are really sharp!



So, what’s the lesson here.  There are 2 actually.  First, it’s another look at creatively using everyday items as survival tools to meet basic human survival needs.  Innovation is at the CORE of survival.  Whether the end use is practical or not, it’s important to always challenge yourself to think creatively about products and items – TRAIN YOUR BRAIN.  Second, pack actual SURVIVAL TOOLS in your purse.  Don’t rely on improvising.  Heck, you’re already lugging it around anyway. Toss in a few light-weight survival items just in case.

So, ladies, what did I miss?  Anything else that can be used as survival tools in YOUR purse?

Remember, it’s not IF but WHEN,


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