The world can be crazy place, and a lot can go wrong before you even know it. One moment you’re happily hiking along a trail, and in the next you’re stuck in a life-or-death situation, forced to rely only on your wits to survive.

That’s why it’s extremely important to know basic survival skills should you ever find yourself in such a precarious situation. As they say, you don’t want to be stuck up a creek without a paddle!

Here are 12 survival hacks to help you not only survive, but to fight the elements, too. Be sure to remember them, because they could save your life some day…

1. Use an empty egg carton to quickly start a fire: It’s important to be able to build a fire to stay warm in cold temperatures. An easy way is to stuff a bundle of small twigs or coal into the slots of an egg carton. Once they’re inside, use a lighter or matches to light the bottom. Then, you can add other materials to keep the fire burning.

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2. Filter water using a T-shirt: Staying hydrated in the wilderness is a must, but it’s not always easy when the water isn’t clean. To make a DIY filter, you can cut the bottom of two soda bottles in half. Fill one with the dirty water and keep the other empty. Tear a piece of cloth, dip one end into each container, and place the dirty water on an elevated surface. Over time, the water will filter itself through the cloth and into the empty bottle.

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3. Start a fire using a wax crayon: There are, of course, many ways to start a fire in the wilderness. Another great example works much like a candle would. If you don’t have a candle to burn, you can use crayons instead…

How could crayons work, you ask? It’s because they contain a combustible material. All you need to do is ignite a crayon using a lighter or a match. You’ll be surprised to learn that each individual crayon can burn for upwards of 30 minutes. Suffice to say, it won’t hurt to carry a full box!

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4. Place branches, twigs, and grass under your clothes to stay warm: If you’re facing plummeting temperatures and aren’t wearing enough gear to stay warm, do your best to find bundles of grass and twigs. By placing them under your clothes, they’ll help work as a layer of insulation. Just make sure you’re not using anything that will cause an allergic reaction, like poison ivy.

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5. Keep mosquitoes and other pests at bay by burning different types of herbs: Research has shown that pesky insects, like mosquitoes and flies, aren’t exactly fond of the scent put off by burning pungent herbs…

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Likewise, it’s suggested that the best herbs to burn include thyme and fresh mint leaves. Peppermint is especially strong to humans—it can clear your nasal passages in a flash—so just imagine how strong it is to the little faces of an insect. They won’t want to come anywhere near you!

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6. You can rub toothpaste on your skin to help soothe insect bites: Everyone who’s ever camped outdoors or enjoyed recreational activities knows exactly how irritating a mosquito bite can be. No matter how much you scratch, it just keeps itching.

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Well, now there’s a solution to such annoying bug bites: toothpaste! It turns out that toothpaste’s anti-inflammatory ingredients work to not only decrease redness, but swelling, too. The menthol will also reduce the overall itchiness and cool your skin.

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7. Use ChapStick to help seal cuts and scrapes: If you’ve been rock climbing or hiking in the woods, there’s a good chance you’ve suffered some minor nicks and scrapes from various shrubs or sharp rocks. To avoid infection, you’ll want to clean them as soon as possible…

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If you don’t have an emergency medical kit readily available, you can use a tube of ChapStick instead. Not only will it work as a sealant for small cuts, but the antibacterial components will also help clean your injury.

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8. Stop any bleeding by using a tampon: There’s no denying how absorbent the material of a tampon truly is—that’s its entire purpose, after all—but did you know it can even help stop severe bleeding from all sorts of injuries? Not to mention, it’s already sterilized and ready for use upon opening.

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9. Convert a condom into a water reservoir: Condoms are made from incredibly strong, clean, and flexible material. For that reason, they can easily be used to store large amounts of fresh water for long periods of time…

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All you have to do is place a tube at the base of the condom, pour the desired amount of water (up to one liter) into it, and then wrap it in a large sock. Then, place a lid or cap on the tube and save it for when you are dehydrated. Pro tip: it helps to use condoms that do not have lubrication on them.

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10. You can use an old guitar pick to start a fire: Guitar picks aren’t only useful for shredding solos on stage. While you might typically use them to ignite the energy in a concert crowd, they can be employed in extreme cases of survival, too.

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Using a pocket knife or another sharp object, shave little pieces of the guitar pick into a pile. Then, use a lighter to ignite a small fire. This is made possible because of the celluloid in the pick, which makes it extremely flammable, even if it’s wet.

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11. If you become lost, build an easy DIY compass: Becoming lost in the wilderness is a huge fear for many people, and it’s easy to happen without trail markers. But if it happens to you, try not to worry, because making your own compass is easy!

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First, you’ll need a pin or a needle. You’ll want to rub one end of it rigorously against either your jeans or another rough fabric to create a charge. Then, grab a leaf and place it in a shallow dish of water. Finally, place the needle on the leaf; the end you rubbed on the fabric will point North.

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12. Knowing the difference between venomous and non-venomous snakes: Snakes are scary enough as it is, but encountering one in the wild can be increasingly frightful. Luckily, there are ways to identify whether or not said snake is venomous.

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For starters, their bite marks look completely different. A venomous bite will always have two holes at the top of its bite and one row of teeth. On the other hand, non-venomous snakes will have two rows of bite marks. Additionally, a venomous snake will have cat-like pupils, whereas the pupils of the non-venomous kind will be more rounded. Finally, venomous snakes have feature rows of scales on the bottom of their bodies, while non-venomous snakes will have forked scales.

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Knowing these survival hacks could undoubtedly save yours or someone else’s life down the line. So, do your best to remember them!

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