Survival Friday: How to Open a Can Without a Can Opener

Have you ever been stuck somewhere with canned food but no can opener?  Or perhaps you were prepared but your cheapie can opener broke?  Now really, this is one area you want well covered when it comes to your preps but just in case you are stuck with out a working can opener, there are some options.

Survival Friday: How to Open a Can Without a Can Opener   Backdoor Survival

Today my friend Joe Marshall shares his solution to opening a can when there is no can opener is sight.

Did You Forget The Can Opener Again?

Have you ever headed out for a nice weekend of camping only to end up frustrated and hungry because you forgot one little thing… a can opener? Fortunately there is a little trick that lets you open up any tin can with nothing more than a rock.

Modern cans are sealed using a roller that bends the top of the can over the wall and the bends it again to form a leak proof crimp in the can. This leaves only a small amount of metal around the top lip of the can that actually seals the contents.

If you ever find yourself without a can opener simply find a large flat rock or piece of concrete, the rougher the better.  Simply place the can upside down on the rock and press down slightly.  Begin sliding the can back and forth across the rock until you begin to see moisture from the contents being left behind.

Once you see the juice, it means that the seal on the can has been broken and you should be able to use a knife or other sturdy utensil to pry the top of the can off.  If you are not concerned with saving water and only want the food, you can keep sliding the can across the rock to further erode the seal and make opening the can easier.

This is a much safer alternative than trying to hack away at the can with your pocket knife and if you apply the right amount of pressure should take you less than a minute open.

The Swiss Army Knife Solution

Some multi-tools and Swiss army knives include a can opener attachment.  If you own a pocket knife, check for a can opener attachment. It’s not as easy as using a normal can opener (it’s likely to be more fiddly) but with some practice, you should be able to use it proficiently.

Survival Friday: How to Open a Can Without a Can Opener   Backdoor Survival

The Final Word

I have one problem with these solutions.

For less two bucks you can purchase military surplus P51 can openers that are light weight, time tested and will fit on a key ring or in your wallet.  It seems to me that using the real thing makes a lot more sense than a rock.Survival Friday: How to Open a Can Without a Can Opener   Backdoor Survival

How about you. Do you have any other alternative tips for when you don’t have the right tool for the job?

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

A version of this column originally appeared in

The importance of having a Last Minute Packing List

I know you’ve heard more than enough about packing emergency kits, Bug Out Bags, Go Bags, or whatever else they may be called. I even have a list here on my site for what should be included.


image by emmamccleary

However, in a scenario in which you’re running out the door, that pre-packed kit is going to be missing something. A lot of important somethings, actually, because many items can, and should, only be packed at the last minute.

Another consideration is that whatever you leave behind might end up in the hands of criminals. Homes left vacant after evacuations are targets for thieving low-lifes. Just know that whatever you leave behind may not be there when you get back, so plan ahead as to what you must take with you.

Click HERE for a downloadable checklist you can print out.

Cash. You may already have packed a few dollars in your emergency kit, but if you have cash stashed around the house, be sure to take it with you! A vacant home is more likely to be burglarized, plus that extra money will come in handy for travel expenses and food.

Medications. Any prescription or over-the-counter medications that you regularly take should be packed at the last minute. If it needs to be kept refrigerated, have a small ice chest and several cold packs in the freezer.

Medical equipment, such as a wheelchair, walking aids, diabetic meters, or nebulizer.

Special equipment or supplies for a special needs family member.

Firearms and extra magazines/ammo. If you have a collection of guns, decide now which you will grab at the last minute. No one likes to leave these behind, but in the case of a house fire or oncoming tornado, you’ll waste precious minutes lugging them to your vehicle.

If your gun safe is portable, then be sure you can transport it out of the house. A furniture dolly would come in handy for this task.

The right clothing for current weather conditions. Your emergency kit probably doesn’t contain heavy duty winter clothing or rain boots. In order to stay warm and dry, know ahead of time where these items are located.

Heirlooms, valuables. If the house is on fire, you’ll have to leave these behind, but other than the direst emergency, you’ll be glad you packed these along.

Photo albums. Over and over people say how glad they were that their photos survived a calamity. Place your most valued photographic treasures in a fire-proof safe.

Small safes and/or strong-boxes. If something is valuable enough to be kept in one of these, remember to take these with you.

Precious metals. If you have been buying gold and silver coins, please don’t leave them for burglars or for Mother Nature to wash away with flood waters! They can be heavy, so you may want to store them in smaller containers to make transporting easier.

The right shoes. Sometimes we have to leave our house in a hurry and in the middle of the night. Plan which shoes each family member will grab, along with socks. (Have extra socks and some moleskin packed in your emergency kit.)

Vital electronics. If you keep personal and financial records on a computer, and most of us do, you’ll want to have a plan for securing that information and, if possible, taking it with you.

At the very least, someone should be trained to download information to a thumb drive. It might be easier to just grab the laptop or unplug the desktop computer and make a run for it.

Your Grab-and-Go binder.

Perishable foods. If you expect to be on the road a while and you have the time to pack it, a cooler filled with food will eliminate the need to stop at fast food joints or restaurants. This will help you get to a safer location more quickly.

Comfort items for family members. These could be stuffed animals, favorite pillows or blankets.

Family pets and their supplies. Read this Pet Emergency Checklist to help you prepare for your animals’ needs.

Camping supplies. If there’s a chance that you may not reach a hotel or other lodging, a tent, sleeping bags, and a few other supplies will provide shelter and rudimentary living quarters, temporarily.

Click HERE for a complete list of FREE downloads that will help you be better prepared for any emergency. And, my book, Survival Mom: How to prepare your family for everyday disasters and worst case scenarios is available on Amazon, Barnes &, and in local bookstores. It contains a multitude of checklists and planning helps.


A version of this column originally appeared in

Building a Mobile Earthquake Prep Kit


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Preparing for a disaster like an earthquake seems like an oxymoron since one can’t ever really prepare for an earthquake.  However, one thing you can do is put together a comprehensive earthquake preparedness kit to mitigate the damage.  Ideally, you should keep multiple kits in multiple locations due to the obvious uncertainty of where disaster will find you.  One such option is a mobile kit you can keep at work or in your car.  With thoughtful preparation and regular maintenance, a mobile earthquake preparedness kit can provide a considerable advantage when disaster ensues.

Basically, any good mobile kit should consist of the same essential survival goods as a larger home kit. The primary difference is that the mobile kit is slightly trimmed down to save on weight and increase portability to get on the move at a moment’s notice.  You can use your discretion with the amount of goods you include in your mobile kit, but here are some of the most critical components to include in any mobile earthquake kit.

Water and food:  You should ensure that you have at least a three-day supply of potable water and non-perishable food.  Instant, canned (don’t forget the can opener), and some dry, packaged, ready-to-eat foods are ideal for a mobile kit.  After all, the kit’s function is to ensure your transitory survival. As for water, you should have a gallon of water per person per day on hand.  This is both for drinking and sanitation. Batteries, flashlights, radios, and first aid:  A surplus of batteries in the aftermath of an earthquake is always a good thing, so load up.  In the event of mass power outages, you’ll need batteries to power everything.  A hand crank radio is handy to tune into any weather and emergency broadcasts.  Flashlights and first aid kits pretty much speak for themselves. Tent, sleeping bag, maps, and whistles:  A small, easily stored, lightweight tent and sleeping bag are essential for shelter and warmth if you get caught outdoors.  Area maps and whistles are also essential for navigation and signaling for help. Personal hygiene items:  Carrying some travel-sized personal hygiene items with you will make you much more comfortable if you aren’t able to reach your home or if your home has been compromised by the earthquake.  Items such as soap, deodorant, and a toothbrush and toothpaste are small items that can make a big difference in an emergency situation. Cell phone, solar-powered charger, and assorted tools:  Keeping a cell phone with a solar-powered charger will ensure some communication in the event of widespread power outages.  Also, keeping a small set of screwdrivers and some assorted tools is a good practice in the event you need to turn off any utilities or for any additional emergency work.

Effective disaster preparedness begins with pre-planning and redundancy.  Keeping a few small kits and a larger home kit will ensure that you have a measure of security during an earthquake.  There are many other additional smaller supplies that you may consider packing in a kit.  Things like medical manuals, medication, extra blankets and clothing, lighters and matches, copies of important documents, and emergency cash are all highly valuable in any emergency situation.

A version of this column originally appeared in

10 Things You Must Have In a 72 Hour Kit

2ada2270-ea24-4524-934f-398a3a69fcbe[1]In the event of a natural or man-made disaster, it may take emergency crews days to actually reach you. That’s why it’s so important to be prepared with a 72-hour emergency kit. Your kit should include all of the essentials needed for you to survive when you have no other options.

All emergency kits should be organized and stored in a convenient carrier, such as a backpack. This will make your life much easier during a crisis, as you can simply grab it, and go during an evacuation. Your 72 hour kit is also a wise tool to take on biking journeys, hiking trips, road trips, even camp-outs, just in case of an emergency.

Your 72 emergency kit is an essential tool that could actually save your life. Of course, we all hope that a catastrophe will never happen. So, it only makes sense to protect yourself by being prepared. If a disaster strikes, things will get very chaotic around you. At least your emergency kit will be there to give a little peace of mind until things calm down.

10 Must-Haves for Your 72 Hour Survival Kit

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is dedicated to promoting emergency preparedness all over the country. FEMA currently recommends that everyone store no less than 3-days’ worth of food storage, water and emergency supplies for each individual in your household. Here are the 10 items you must have in your one-person 72-hour emergency kit:

  1. 9 full-course meal servings – Your emergency food storage should contain non-perishable items, such as canned, dehydrated, freeze-dried foods, etc… Try to make sure your foods are lightweight in case of evacuation. If you include canned foods, don’t forget to add a can opener to your emergency kit.
  2. 3 gallons of water – 1 gallon per person, per day
  3. 1 emergency stove with fuel, or 1 stove in a can with fuel cells, or 1 volcano stove for cooking without gas service during an emergency
  4. Matches – Long matchsticks are best
  5. Cooking tin – Best if it can be used to cook directly over fire
  6. Basic first aid kit – Should include enough bandages
  7. All-in-one tool kit
  8. Battery-powered flashlight
  9. Battery-powered radio
  10. Extra batteries for flashlight and radio

Maintain Your 72 Hour Survival Kit

Ignoring the call to be prepared for an emergency could mean the difference between your life and death. Make it a plan to go through your survival kit at least every six months. This will ensure that all of your supplies are working properly. The last thing you need during a crisis situation is to find out that your batteries no longer work or your stove fuel was used up during your last camping trip. Also, be sure to cycle the food storage in your kit to ensure that your foods are fresh and ready-to-eat when you need them. Be prepared to care for yourself until help arrives with a 72 hour survival kit.

A version of this column originally appeared in