Last week we talked about the many survival uses of the tampon. But unless he specifically packed one in a bag or car, a man's unlikely to have one on him in a pinch. So today we're going to explore the survival uses of an everyday item you're much more likely to have with you in an emergency: your cell phone.
Ever leave home without your cell phone? For most of us, the answer these days is no. I think I'd be more comfortable leaving home without my pants on. I feel more naked with no cell phone. The cell phone has become our portal to the world and we pretty much have one with us at all times. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes.
Whether in a boat, on a plane, traveling through Africa, taking a road trip, or backpacking the Rockies, our cell phone has become a regular piece of Every Day Carry (EDC). I think it's pretty safe to say that we will probably have our cell phone with us if ever faced with a tragic survival situation. It's also not hard to imagine that it might not be working. Regardless of the reason, a broken or busted cell phone is STILL an amazing collection of pieces and parts that, with a little insight and creativity, can be used to help meet a surprising number of basic survival needs. How do I know this? I busted open a handful of cell phones to find out.
Survival Signal Mirror
Each of the cell phones I cracked open had metallic, mirror-like layers of material behind the screens. These can function as a perfect survival signal mirror. The reflection from a mirror can be seen for miles by land, air, or water rescue crews. This has saved the lives of many survivors in history. You can even use the reflection from a bright moon to make a flash at night. I made a more workable signal mirror by u201Cgluingu201D the reflective pieces to a hunk of bark with some pine sap.
Aiming an improvised signal mirror requires a little finesse. Simply hold up your peace sign and place your target (the rescue crew) in-between your fingers. Then, flash the sun’s reflection across your fingers. You can see the reflection on your fingers which ensures you are also flashing your target.
Most speakers (if not all of them) contain a magnet. All of the cell phones I opened contained a magnet with the speaker portion of the phone. All of the phones also contained MANY little pieces of wire that I could magnetize; it must be a ferrous metal wire — copper will not work. With these two items you can make a very accurate improvised compass.
Sweep the magnet across the metal wire in the SAME direction 10 or so times. Make a mental note of the direction you are sweeping the magnet. This is the end of the wire that will point NORTH. You can then FLOAT this metal wire in a small pool of water on a small leaf or shaving of wood. It must be a completely undisturbed pool of water with no current so as to not affect the results. The wire will align itself with the NORTH-SOUTH line with the end you noted above pointing north (in the Northern Hemisphere). Right of North is East and Left of North is West. Now you know direction.
Spear Points & Cutting Tools
Each cell phone also had a circuit board. I used the circuit board from a SmartPhone to make two very useful items to a survivor. I noticed that when I abraded the edge of the circuit board against a smooth rock it actually ground down to a fairly decent cutting edge. I used half of the circuit board to make a useful cutting tool which I used to gather and cut some natural bark cordage and also scrape a pile of very fine fire tinder shavings from a dried Mullein stalk. Both of these items are incredibly useful to a survivor. This crude cutting tool can be used for a variety of other survival chores as well.
I then shaped the other half of the circuit board into an u201Carrowheadu201D spear point which I lashed onto the end of a willow shaft using the natural cordage I gathered. I abraded the edges of this point against the stone to sharpen it. I've made many make-shift gigs and spears in my life, and I have no doubt that this point can do some serious damage — either in self-defense or in food procurement.