30 Uses for a Bandana

Uses for a Bandana

A bandana is another one of those things that is useful for a thousand things but nothing specific. It’s right up there with duct tape and rope.  The things only weigh a couple ounces, they are dirt cheap, and are a must have in your Bug Out Bag or Urban Survival Gear. Here is just a short list of possible uses for a bandana.

1. Signal (also see signal mirror)
2. Neck Gaiter for cold weather
3. Tourniquet (But for Snake Bites use a Sawyer Extractor)
4. Pot Holder
5. Collecting Wild Edibles
6. Sun block for neck
7. Sling (first-aid – also see medical kits for you BOB)
8. Sling (as in David and Goliath)
9. Sling (for a staff )
10. Cordage  (strips or as is)
11. Washcloth/Towel (Bathe out of a Collapsible Bucket)
12. Sweatband
13. Waist pack/pouch
14. Hobo Pack
15. Padding a hotspot
16. Cleaning Patches for Firearm
17. Bullet Patches for Muzzleloader
18. Gun Wipe Cloth (with oil)
19. Toilet Paper
20. Mark a Trail
21. Dish Rag
22. Napkin
23. Eye patch
24. Pre-water Filter (like Coffee Filters)
25. Clean Glasses and other lens
26. Ear Muffs
27. Bind a stone and toss a line over a limb
28. Dust Mask (in Urban Survival)
29. Wet and wear for Hot Weather
30. Sneezing

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What Else?

Leave a comment and tell us what else you use bandanas for.

{ 78 comments… read them below or add one }

Survivor_ 1997 March 10, 2010 at 1:09 am

Roll up as if it were a headband and cut slits for eyes and use as snow shades (prevent snow blindness). Use as pockets for making other weapons such as bolos and hurls.

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Lucas_SurvCache March 10, 2010 at 2:21 am

Survivor_1997,

Good idea for the snow blindness, it can be a real pain and even dangerous in a survival situation.

The only time I have made something like a bolo is when I was a kid, but it could definitely work.

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Matt March 15, 2010 at 10:13 pm

A bandana was one of the first things I got for backpacking and it goes with me every time no matter how light I'm packing.

My preference is a thin 100% cotton cowboy bandana, at least 34" x 34" in a light/neutral/dirt color/pattern. Unless you really can't find/make something similar, don't bother with those crappy little poly blend ones you can buy at 'sports' stores, urban outfitters, convenience stores or truck stops. A fallback and good for some of the mentioned uses in the article would also be one of those Arab scars – variously known as keffiyeh, kafiyah, (ya)shmagh, ghutrah, mashadah, shemagh, or hijab.

My uses:

1. drape a wet one loosely around your neck for evaporative cooling when hot – very effective
2. knot/fold into a hat/head and neck shade for protection from sun, wind or cold
3. draped loosely over the head and shading the eyes to keep gnats or no-see-ums out of your face and eyes
4. general sweat/dirt wipe
5. folded up as a butt pad for sitting on rough/damp surfaces

You could use one as a field dressing too, but I'd really hate to have to use one as a butt wipe – too useful for other things.

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Lucas_SurvCache March 28, 2010 at 5:46 pm

Matt,

I agree with you about getting cotton ones. There are very few survival items that are better cotton than synthetic but a bandana is one.

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Elizabeth March 26, 2010 at 1:49 am

I used it to knot my pack shut when the zipper failed. I didn't want to duct tape shut it because I wanted fast access to what was inside.

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Lucas_SurvCache March 28, 2010 at 5:46 pm

That's a good one Elizabeth.

Another one of those "you never know why you're going to need it until it happens" type of uses.

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teresa April 9, 2010 at 3:49 am

head band….dog collar …horse lead

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Lucas_SurvCache April 18, 2010 at 3:53 pm

teresa,

Great call on those, I hadn't thought about uses for animals

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Prepper Man April 15, 2010 at 10:39 am

We always tell the scouts to have a bandana, Didn't know there were this many uses.

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Lucas_SurvCache April 18, 2010 at 3:53 pm

Prepper Man,

I'm always looking for multi-use items in my preps.

Over at TEOTWAWKI Blog they published another large list of uses for bandannas in your EDC
http://teotwawkiblog.blogspot.com/2010/04/multita…

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Chip Master April 18, 2010 at 7:33 am

I like to use them on my wife, to tie her up and mostly blindfold her.

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Josh May 2, 2010 at 6:24 pm

LOL……. I think?

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PaganRaven January 29, 2013 at 7:09 pm

ok, your comment made me laugh out loud and had to show my husband. lol

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Bazzil May 2, 2010 at 7:13 pm

I agree equalizer.
My all around survival round?
Give me my .22 rimfire.
Ammo is super abundant almost anywhere you go.
You can easily pack 500 rounds in one small box.
It's effective out to 50-75+ yards,
It can kill a deer, small game, even a person if need be .
it's quiet

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mr_smashy May 4, 2010 at 6:24 pm

The 5 shot 870 Express (#25549) is a 4+1 gun, meaning it holds four in the magazine plus one in the chamber. The 7 shot is a 6 + 1 gun (#25077). You can convert it to a 5 shot, but you'll need a magazine cap and the correct spring.

You're looking at about 1/4 pound difference between basic guns (7 1/2 pounds for the 7 shot). Loaded weight is not going to much more. You are striking into the heart of the "firepower vs. mobility" dilemma. Those two extra rounds may be very beneficial, but you may find that every ounce adds up if you plans include a long trek via foot.

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StoneyRoad June 8, 2010 at 2:07 am

A bandana, is about the most massively useful thing a survivalist can have. Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapors; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a miniraft down the slow heavy River Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (such a mind-bogglingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can't see it, it can't see you); you can wave your bandana in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.

More importantly, a bandana has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: non-survivalist) discovers that a survivalist has his bandana with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, face flannel, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the survivalist any of these or a dozen other items that the survivalist might accidentally have "lost". What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his bandana is is clearly a man to be reckoned with.

oh wait, that's towels.

Damnit.

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Chip Master June 16, 2010 at 4:27 pm

They are great when you get an allergy attack or have a cold and don't usually carry around a box of tissue or a roll of TP. The only down fall is that you have to wash them often.

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Lucas_SurvCache July 3, 2010 at 8:26 pm

Yep. I carry a hankerchief everyday. a "fancy" bandana I guess you could say. It just a good utility tool.

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aj52 June 19, 2010 at 1:18 pm

Wet the bandana with any liquid you would allow to touch your body/face. Pinch one corner of the bandana between thumb and fingers. Twirl the bandana quickly for about ten seconds. Apply cooled bandana to hot area of body. Temporary relief. Twirling the wet bandana uses the principle that heat goes where there is less heat. Remember this principle whether you are hot or cold.

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Lucas_SurvCache July 3, 2010 at 8:26 pm

People pay quite a bit more than the cost of a bandana for this same "cooling device"

Very good idea.

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aj52 June 19, 2010 at 1:23 pm

Knot any hard object into a bandana. Place in pocket with part of bandana hanging out. The part hanging out is the handle for the innocent looking very close range improvised impact weapon you are now carrying.

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Lucas_SurvCache July 3, 2010 at 8:26 pm

also good to sling a rope over a tall tree.

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Adam August 24, 2012 at 3:58 pm

Too young.

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cmcle July 2, 2010 at 8:16 pm

beside the "joke" about the wife, they are good improvised handcuffs/restraints

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Lucas_SurvCache July 3, 2010 at 8:27 pm

haha, yes good point.

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Plain Brown Tabby July 19, 2010 at 9:30 pm

Instant kotex. Duh, boys.

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Brian August 22, 2010 at 2:12 pm

Living down south (Louisiana) in a very humid environment, I once found myself in a survival situation where I needed to start a fire, but everything was soaking wet. After sorting through my pack for what little I had available, I actually came to the conclusion that I could add an oil-based insect repellant to my bandana in attempt to at least dry the tender enough to light. Unfortunately, I lost my bandana…fortunately, I'm living today to tell the story.

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Roof gard N' R September 9, 2010 at 1:53 am

-By tying a bandana around the legs of your pants you can keep out ticks and chiggers when hiking. But by doing this in the mornings when dew is fresh on the ground you can pick up a good bit of fresh drinking water. If your rag is clean of course.
-If you are caught in a dust or sandstorm you can tie them over your long sleeves at the wrists to keep particles from getting in your clothes.
-And you can use them to make good old fashinoed cowboy coffee to hold your grounds.

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RUJoking December 2, 2010 at 10:52 am

Water filter if needed, blocks dirt & other stuff, then add iodine to kill bugs. Vitamin C masks that nasty iodine flavor.

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krepto January 3, 2011 at 11:16 pm

high concentration of vitamin C in pine tea

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Chefbear58 December 10, 2010 at 10:21 am

Another "odd" use I just thought of…. ALMOST anything organic, cotton bandanna included, can be eaten as a "last ditch" attempt to obtain calories. I don't think it will taste good, or go down easy, but its an option. There are many stories of folks in arctic climates eating their gloves/mucklucks/ ect. that are made of animal skins, though they take a considerable amount of boiling from what I understand!

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Old Scout December 17, 2010 at 9:41 pm

I use two types, 100% silk and 100% cotton, and they are both the extra large cowboy style. I would carry one made of fine woven wool if I could find one.
If you wet them and put over your head and around your neck they keep you immensely cooler and if tied, one over the other, around your neck in the winter they will keep you warmer(use the silk one for this).
Other than that the only thing I can think of is using your worn out 100% cotton bandanna to make char cloth for starting fires with.

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John January 26, 2011 at 9:41 pm

-For urban survival, used to cover your hand to bread a window in an emergency.
-Can be used to start a fire.
-Can be used to apply pressure to a sucking chest wound.
-A wet bandanna can be placed inside an empty water bottle. This bottle can then be duct taped to the muzzle of a firearm. For smaller caliber weapons this will MUFFLE the initial shot. This is important when hunting as it may allow you a follow up shot without giving away your position.
-Can be used as a component in numerous items from booby traps to weapons. (used to create drag at the tail end of the spear, thereby making it more accurate.)

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Patterson_USMC February 14, 2011 at 7:55 pm

Love this list. Five stars *****

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gianna February 26, 2011 at 12:27 pm

n 95 mask

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Jack April 5, 2012 at 3:31 am

not even close to an n95 mask

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Wes June 17, 2014 at 12:33 am

Better than nothing.

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Noslend67 March 11, 2011 at 7:57 pm

Use a standard kitchen flour sack towel, it's only drawback and some may say advantage is it's white.

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smooers April 13, 2011 at 8:09 pm

tie around ankles legs or waist while walking through tall grass to gather a small amount of water (desperate measures)

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Mortified_Roo July 10, 2011 at 9:33 am

woah u have alot ov time on ur hands. however it is a good thing to know so good work

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Doug July 20, 2014 at 8:46 am

About the same amount as anyone else, probably.

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Laura July 11, 2011 at 5:01 pm

What a great post! Thanks!

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Jarhead 03 September 19, 2011 at 1:50 am

Few other uses. Silence a rickety sounding rifle due to loose fitting hand guards. As a good dust cover over the bolt or action when not in use. A modified rest/sling for a rifle when in the standing where offhand shooting may be too unstable. The use as a bandage if no first aid kit is available and as a pressure bandage by tying the knot over wound. Place a rock in it and it can be used to smash a window, tethered to a stick can be used as a bludgeoning implement for self defense from animals.

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survivalist1323 October 15, 2011 at 1:35 pm

These things got some good uses. Another thing is wet it and wrap it around your neck. Keeps you cool. The people who thought of all this sure are hitting it square on the ball.

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survivalist1323 October 15, 2011 at 1:36 pm

do you just eat 'er whole or do you broil them or something?

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Ibreaksht November 7, 2011 at 11:45 am

Fold it into a strip tie a padlock in the middle and you have a good weapon if its needed
wrap it around your face as a mask
Grab a stick and you have a turniquet
bandanas are almost as important as duct tape…..only almost

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Shiriki November 28, 2011 at 1:47 am

I use mine for robbing trains.

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Alan January 21, 2012 at 11:52 pm

I'm particularly fond of the Cambodian krama scarf, myself. It's been used in that country for centuries and with good reason. One of the uses I've read about was stuffing them in motorbike tires to seal a puncture.

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Kristal January 30, 2012 at 9:51 pm

Great for leaching out found acorns to make them less bitter entertainment for small children protection while gathering food like stinging needle or fruit from cactus

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rab sleeping bags March 31, 2012 at 10:30 am

you know that In the U.S., a sleeping bag's rating typically indicates the lowest temperature at which it will keep the average sleeper warm. For example, with a 0° bag, you should be able to sleep comfortably in 0° temperature.

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rab neutrino April 5, 2012 at 1:18 am

Thermal pharmaceutical bags are designed to provide a method for pharmacists to supply their customers with a way to transport and protect their medications from extreme outside temperature changes, as well as shocks and light. They have been in use for more than 15 years in Europe by major drug companies to help preserve the cold chain.

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shelltech83 April 22, 2012 at 12:45 pm

I carry a cowboy bandanna thing, plus wear a camo bandanna on my head with most of my hats.. . also carry/wear two shemags (terrorist rap thing)

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chief42141 April 24, 2012 at 10:31 am

dont forget you can also use it as a reusable baby diaper. if you tie a couple of them together and put a few slits in them then you have a makeshift fishing net. and not to mention you could tie 2 together fill it with leaves or whatever and make a pillow.

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Pete June 25, 2012 at 9:31 am

This is a great post for light-weight backpacking. I usually pack a bright bandanna and a DPM scrim.

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Nte June 25, 2012 at 10:30 pm

Shemaghs are a lot better because they’re 42″ by 42″. That’s a lot of cloth!!!

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Nelson September 9, 2012 at 10:31 am

roll it up like a headband, tie the ends to your front two belt loops, use it as a hammoc for your *ahem*. Greatly reduces chafing, and provides relief if chafing has already started.

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leonard September 19, 2012 at 7:51 pm

Bandanna can be use as stone thrower ,roll it and put a stone and hold both end and swing to direction you wanna hit and remember to let go the other end when swinging ,remember how david
used it to slew goliath.

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EarthKnight October 11, 2012 at 6:40 am

Has anyone actually tried using a bandanna as a rock-throwing sling? I have, and I use a oven sling as well. A bandanna is pretty much useless as a sling.

The other uses are all good, although some of them mean the bandanna becomes a one-use item.

Another good use is for water collecting from water sources otherwise hard to collect… dew, trickles on stone, or small pools in rocks.

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thomas December 23, 2012 at 3:00 pm

A Bandana? Really?
Why not just admit that Arabs have minimalist survival in extremely harsh environments down to a science, and instead of just calling them 'ragheads' or 'towelheads' – just admit that their kefeya is really the ultimate multipurpose survival gear. It beats a bandana by a long shot, as in many regions everyone wears one or something like it (women just wear an abaya instead but it's just a different version of the same cuts of cloth draped similarly, just without an igal – the black band that keeps the kefeya in place when worn Saudi/Gulf-style…

A kefeya can be used for all of the uses listed above, and also be an essential item of clothing when it's cold or blazing how…as a scarf…as head protection when worn with an igal or by itself Arabian Gulf-style, or it can be used as a prayer rug.. bandages (as it's the size of about 15 bandanas), as a face and head mask during a sandstorm/duststorm – wrapped around one's head, mouth, nose and eyes to keep sand and dust out (sure you cooouulldd wrap a bandana around your mouth in theory, but my head is too big for it to work and even if it did the bandana's too small to give you any real protection from anything – tear gas, dust, sand, you name it…Plus a kefeya is big enough even to pitch a sun tent…

At high noon in the Sahara desert, the only way to conserve enough liquid and energy to carry on if you're alone (or even with an animal like a camel or especially a horse which doesn't fare well in dry heat, they cannot just power on in 130 degrees f in the blazing sun without lots of water…)…
You take a few sticks, pitch them vertically, and put a kefeya down on the ground on either side held down with stones…the sticks create a primitive tent…
Just a kefeya is enough to shelter a man…two can be used together, or otherwise an arab outer-robe, to shelter a man and his animal side by side.

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Bear59801 January 2, 2013 at 6:48 am

Some of the Arab scarves (called keffiya or shemaugh) are made of fine wool. They are usually a bit larger than a bandana.

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Toasty July 3, 2013 at 9:33 pm

LADIES – represent!!! Don't forget these are completely acceptable for tying your hair back!!

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Steven shehan July 13, 2013 at 2:16 am

Just got my shamagh and its really cool and could come in really handy. I'm still working out the kinks like different ways to put it on and things like that but for the most part its really cool.
I'm a new survivalist and im building my B.O.B and this is so going in it, really useful.

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hebergeur web maroc July 18, 2013 at 6:09 am

that's an awesome liste thanks

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Leela July 20, 2013 at 1:02 pm

Use it as a weapon, to choke people.

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beginner survivor August 31, 2013 at 5:42 pm

i got this from a survival manual you can wrap them around your ankles and walk through tall grass in the morning the bandnana will soak up the dew and you can wring the water out of the bandana into your mouth or into a container of some sorts

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Alec September 27, 2013 at 11:05 pm

Just had my bandana confiscated by the police for suspicion that i might be gang affiliated or using it to commit armed hold ups. Despite the fact that it was plain black with paisleys on it and was bought from an organisation that supports kids with cancer and had their logo printed on it. and was not tied around my head but neatly folded and packed in my every day carry bag. The survival machete and survival knife along with 11 other assorted blades scattered around the cab of my truck did nothing to help the situation. The whole lot got confiscated. Has it come to this that you can't be a prepper without being victimised?

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Guest October 4, 2013 at 4:26 pm

in short, "yes"
in our town there's all sorts of PSA's about preparing for disasters after upwards of 200 twisters came through the state a few years back, but then cops with a bone to pick will look for that kind of stuff just to start trouble. for me, it was friends in the police force and emergency services that woke me up to prepping in the first place!

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Guest October 4, 2013 at 4:13 pm

if you're city folk and don't typically have a bandanna handy, any T-style undershirt can be used as a face mask. Simply wear on top of your head, tuck the sleeves inside-out and peek through the neck hole placed in-front of your eyes, twist-up the bottom and tie into a knot behind your head – alternatively, you could just buy a bandana, as the article suggests; they're about .60¢ at most any country service station, instead of $50 at your local Urban Outfitters, chumps…

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jon November 3, 2013 at 3:53 pm

Bad idea. I was a fireman for 24 years. My buddy had fire fighting insulated leather gloves while using an axe on a window. A large shard of glass skewered his hand strait thru, just from the weight of the glass dropping a couple feet. His hand never was the same after that. He cut tendons etc…
So during a shtf scenario doing that to your hand could be the end of you and your family due to lack of heath care. Did I mention it is painful too?
Not trying to embarass you just take my word for it, BAD IDEA. Instead use a rock or a piece of wood.

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กันสาด November 29, 2013 at 11:49 am

Hi there! I know this is kinda off topic but I was wondering if
you knew where I could locate a captcha plugin for my comment form?
I’m using the same blog platform as yours and I’m having difficulty finding one?

Thanks a lot!

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termipirate December 25, 2013 at 3:42 pm

Certain fish (trout and salmon especially) are attracted to the color red. Use a small piece of red bandana as fish bait.

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M.G. March 18, 2011 at 5:39 pm

I live in Louisiana too. Everything in my bag is sealed in ziploc bags. I figure it keeps everything dry and once I use the item, I have the ziploc for future use.

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sam March 24, 2011 at 4:57 pm

haha . from the survival guide hitchhikers guide to the galaxy

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LawGirl May 20, 2011 at 4:09 pm

Boys never think of the obvious. Good one, though! That's a true need.

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W_M June 3, 2014 at 9:28 am

Insulting a gender never helps. If males insult females it's national news, females do the same and well… who cares?

Way to come up with an idea all by yourself and make a big deal out of it. Hopefully you are now "empowered". We hear you roar!

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Badmf April 8, 2012 at 12:27 pm

I like to use them on "your" wife too! But she really likes the whip and cattle prod!

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Lucky 8 January 24, 2014 at 8:28 pm

Lol, this is a greAt site, i just got a plain bandanna and decorated it with markers… I now wear it on my wrist at all times, especially while traveling…

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Justin February 8, 2014 at 10:18 pm

There is a reason a bandana is/was an official part for the BSA uniform. They are extremely useful and I'm happy to see that someone is still pushing common sense tools.

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