The 5 strangest household items that could save your life

Every home needs the basics: a first aid kit; a smoke alarm; a multipurpose fire extinguisher. But in the event of an emergency, sometimes we have no choice but to improvise.

There are many common household items – most of which you will already have – that could save your life in some very surprising ways. While few are a substitute for proper intervention or first aid, they could make all the difference if no other help is at hand.

How many of these tricks have you considered? And what would you add? Be sure to let us know in the comments below!

Glad wrap
It keeps our food fresh, but did you also know plastic wrap can keep your skin safe?

The simple plastic wrap in your kitchen drawer is virtually the same as that ambulance paramedics apply to burn victims. It’s extremely sanitary – and thus won’t infect the wound – and will only stick to itself, meaning it can easily be removed once you receive proper medical attention.

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If you find yourself with serious burns, Medical Daily suggests wrapping a single layer directly and tightly around the burn. Note that this advice is only useful for serious thermal burns (i.e. from heat or fire, not chemical or acid).

Tea towels
We’ve all cut ourselves in the kitchen at one point or another. If the cut is deep and you need medical attention, the BBC advises reaching for the nearest clean tea towel as soon as you see blood. Apply direct pressure for at least 20 minutes (and resist the temptation to check and see if it’s stopped bleeding before then) to the blood clot and seal the wound while you await proper medical attention.

The ABC adds an important caveat: make sure first that nothing is stuck in the wound – in which case pushing could make it worse.

A wall-mounted clock (and plenty of spare batteries)
This won’t help you directly, but it’s one of the easiest ways to get into an important, potentially life-saving habit.

Shockingly few of us will have any idea, from day to day, if our home smoke alarms are actually working. It can be all too easy to let batteries drain without looking into a replacement. (At least one of us in the Starts at 60 office has been woken up by a low-battery warning beep in the dead of night, and responded by simply removing the battery outright in frustration. It remained unpowered for months.)

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This great trip, courtesy of How Stuff Works, will help you keep on top of your battery rotation: simply change your smoke alarm batteries at the same time as your clock batteries. A once neglected duty will become – quite literally – like clockwork.

A sturdy torch
Not only are multiple torches around the home ideal in the event of a power outage; there are a surprising number of ways a high-quality LED flashlight can double as a lifesaving tool.

A suitably sturdy torch can potentially smash windows in the event of a fire. It can signal to people outside if you need to discretely call for help. It can even ward off or disorient an intruder in the darkness. Simply having several around the home – one by the bedside, one easily accessible in the home- can be wonderful for peace of mind.

A bra
Has your roof collapsed? Try removing your bra. No, really.

In the event of structural collapse, a bra can make for a surprisingly effective mask against harmful dust and debris. A cup is shaped to fit around the nose and mouth well – and with a little adjustment, the straps can easily fix it to your face for hands-free use.

This may not be as effective for smoke or gas (as these require something absolutely air-tight) and of course, the benefits will vary from cup to cup – but in a pinch, it may just give you the extra protection you need.

What household items help make you feel safe? Have you ever had to improvise in an emergency? And what other items would you add to this list?