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Saved By: A Paper Clip

Even the dullest of pocket debris can become a survival implement. Use a paper clip to catch dinner, treat wounds, and even start a fire.

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Catch a fish
Using pliers or your fingers, shape the clip into a simple hook with a small loop at the top (like an ornament hook). Fold over a quarter-inch of metal on the hook end to make a barb on the outside (prevents the fish from slipping off). Go for small fish only.

Relieve nail pressure
Blood blisters under toenails are extremely painful and can cause the nail to fall off. Unfold and straighten the clip’s outermost joint. Sterilize the end with fire and place the pointy end on your affected nail. Slowly and with light pressure, corkscrew the clip, boring it into the nail. Stop as soon as you see blood; pressure will reduce right away. Cover the wound with a sterile bandage.

Pop a blister
Severe blisters can hamper your ability to walk. Sterilize the clip’s end and use it as a lance. First, study the blister: How does your foot apply pressure to the area as you step? Target the first area the boot touches and make your hole there. Massage out the fluid. Cover with a sterile bandage and some duct tape.

Find north
Gather your materials: as small a leaf as will float your clip, a non-metallic vessel, and some water (or a still puddle). Straighten the clip, then break it in half by folding it repeatedly (it’ll float easier). Now, magnetize the metal by rubbing it quickly against your clothes, hair, or some fur (about 50 swipes does it). Carefully place it on the leaf. The paper clip will rotate until it’s aligned north-south.

Remove a splinter
Straighten the clip, then bend it around a stick to form tweezers. Caution: Never remove objects from the eyes; cover with gauze or a piece of cloth and seek medical attention.

Snag an animal
Unfold the clip into a U-shape and fold over the tops to create barbs (as for fishing). Lash this, prongs out, to a thumb-thick stick and use it to stab at small rodents, frogs, and birds.

Start a fire
If all else fails, rub a paper clip between the two terminals of a 9-volt battery, touching them simultaneously and producing sparks. Alternately, use the clip to connect the positive and negative terminals on a AA or AAA battery (but never anything larger; even in a survival situation, the risk of explosion isn’t worth the reward). Touch the center of the wire (hottest part) to your tinder pile until it forms an ember. Be sure to disconnect the short circuit immediately, or else you risk an explosion, even with small batteries.

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