Turn Your Cellphone Into a Survival Tool

 If you find yourself in a survival situation, the first thing you’ll do is use your cellphone to call for help.

That’s all well and good if your cellphone is charged and if you can get a signal. If both are true, your problem is probably more of an inconvenience than a fight for survival.

And even if you’re in a remote place and can’t get a signal, other applications on your phone may be functioning. Such as email or texting.

While the message may not send immediately (your phone might tell you it’s “pending”), as you move around you may find an area where you do have a signal and it will send.

Make sure to include in that message where you are, what help you need and your physical condition if you have an injury. 

Traditional uses

Calling, emailing or texting is the most obvious way to use your cellphone in an emergency situation. But there are others.

If you can access the Internet on your phone, you can download information that might help you navigate your way out of the problem. Including location and GPS capabilities.

For example, you might be able to find directions to a place of safety. Or where to find food and water.

And speaking of information, you might also access first-aid tips, how to start a fire with materials you have, how to purify water from an unfamiliar source and how to build a shelter. 

Of course, the best thing to do is download this information on your phone BEFORE you find yourself in trouble. Sources could include books and magazine articles on survival, as well as Internet blog posts. 

Light your way

Anytime you go far enough away from home that you can’t get back in a timely manner, you should have a flashlight with you.

But if you find yourself without one, your phone could be of assistance. It should have a flashlight application that will be a big help in the dark.

If that’s not working, the screen itself should light up enough to help you see things immediately in front of you. Especially if you set it at its brightest level.

A cellphone screen will never be a substitute for a flashlight. But some light will be better than none in a survival situation.

Fire-starting & signaling

Believe it or not, you might be able to use your cellphone to start a fire. And that could help you cook food or stay warm until help arrives. The smoke from your fire might also attract rescuers.

You’ve heard about the steel wool and battery trick. Maybe you’ve used it. If you have some steel wool, a small piece of metal or an aluminum gum wrapper in your backpack, you could remove the battery from your phone and try to get enough of a spark to light some kindling.

Signaling for help is something we’ve previously discussed at length. One of the ways to signal is with a mirror held up to reflect sunlight.

Now, if you don’t have a small mirror with you, you might be able to use your phone screen to accomplish the same thing.

Make a compass

How else could your cellphone come to your rescue? One is by using it to make a compass. Cellphones contain a magnet and small wires.

Sweep the magnet across the metal (not copper) wire approximately 10 times in the same direction. That direction will be the end of the wire you’ll eventually use to point north.

Next, float your wire in a small pool of still water. When that magnetized wire floats, it will direct itself in a north-south direction.

Once you have your directions down pat, you can make a decision regarding which way to head that will increase the likelihood of being found.

Binoculars and cutting devices

Your cellphone might also be able to serve as binoculars or a cutting device if you need either of them.

Use your phone’s camera to zoom in on an area that you might want to head. Then snap a photo of that area. When you open the photo, you can zoom in even more.

If you determine that your phone is dead, you might want to take it apart and use some of its parts to form a makeshift knife or spearhead.

You can sharpen the circuit board and metal mount by rubbing them against a smooth rock to accomplish this.

Make sure your lifeline is ready

As I mentioned at the beginning, using your cellphone the way it was intended to be used is your best bet for getting help in a crisis.

But those usages are generally dependent upon your phone being as charged as possible. It’s important to get in the habit of keeping your electronic devices fully charged. You never know what might happen.

And having a phone on hand when you need to call for help could make the difference between life and death.

This is why portable, backup power is essential in an emergency. Communication is critical to survival and your phone isn’t any help to you if it’s dead.

Patriot Power Cell

My top recommendation is the Patriot Power Cell. This pocket-sized power plant charges in the sun with a built-in solar panel. So, you’ll never have to worry about the internal battery wearing out.

With a pair of USB ports, you can charge two electronic devices at once. Including your cellphone. It features a “ruggedized” design that repels water and protects against drops. It even includes a flashlight. 

The Patriot Power Cell has become so popular that most people buy them in 4-packs. That way they can keep 2 at home and the others in their vehicles. Or give a couple to family members.



  • Jorge Poppe - September 06, 2022

    Back home we normally say “ Awesome “
    This is a great survival advice. Thank you for your dedication to share such valuable tool

  • Michael from Atlanta - July 29, 2022

    No phone it’s better than no me I can get another phone a phone can’t get another me

  • Clinton Nichols - July 27, 2022

    Thanks for posting the survival tips!

    We regularly find lots of useful material when camping, Discarded glass is flint knapped into knifes or arrow heads.
    Wire is made into triggers for traps. Paper trash is used with a fire bow to make our fire.

    Anyway, I like your ideas!


  • Regina Sacca - July 27, 2022

    Great info for last opp survival tactics. After using the cellphone and surviving the situation there is no operable phone remaining to make calls

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