Using a Broken Cell Phone For Survival?

The other day I misplaced my cellphone. No lie. You’d have thought I lost a grandchild.

I was beside myself. Retracing my steps. Calling the stores where I’d been to see if a Good Samaritan had turned in a phone.

Searching under the seats of my car. Turning the couch I often sit on upside down and feeling inside every crevice.

It’s incredible how attached we’ve become to our cellphones. And no wonder. We use them for so many things.

Like checking the time and weather. Sending and receiving texts. Checking email and the news. And yes, even making or receiving a phone call now and then.

Cellphone sacrifice

While I hate to admit it, I’ve become dependent on my cellphone. And I hate the thought of being without it. One writer described his cellphone as his “portal to the world.”

But what if destroying your cellphone was the only way you could survive? Would you do it? Would I?

If it were really a last resort, of course we would. Survival takes precedence over pretty much everything else.

If I absolutely had to bust up my cellphone in order to survive, I’d do it. But what help could a broken cellphone be to someone trying to survive? Here are a few examples from the Art of Manliness.

Fire starter

One of the most valuable things to someone trying to survive is fire. And a cellphone’s battery could be the one thing that might help you ignite one.

Once your phone is cracked open, disconnect one of the small wires you’ll find.

Remove the battery’s outer coating. Then bend the wire, touching one end to the plus and one end to the minus battery terminals.

This should short-circuit the battery and make the wire ends very hot. But they won’t stay hot for long, so have your kindling ready.

Cutting tool

Every cellphone has a circuit board. You can form one side of the circuit board into a very sharp cutting tool by rubbing it repeatedly against a smooth rock.

This tool can then be used to cut bark for cordage, create kindling shavings or a variety of other usages you might need.

You can turn the other side of the circuit board into an arrowhead spear point. Again, sharpen it with a rock. Then attach it to a shaft to form a spear.

You can use this weapon to kill small game or possibly in self-defense if you encounter someone more interested in hurting you than in rescuing you.

Signal mirror

You’re lost in the wilderness. Your cellphone has no signal. It’s useless to you, other than perhaps to let you know how many hours you’ve been lost.

You break open your cellphone and lo and behold there are layers of material behind the screen that can be employed as a mirror.

Suddenly you have a powerful signaling device. With some sunlight, you might be able to send a signal a long distance in just about any direction.

What if it’s night? You might even be able to reflect some moonlight and attract someone’s attention.

Directional device

What if you’re lost? You know which direction you want to go, but you don’t know which way is north.

You might be able to construct a compass out of the insides of your cellphone. You should find a small magnet with the speaker part of your phone.

There will also be small pieces of wire. You can magnetize a wire by pressing the magnet against it and sweeping across it a dozen times or so.

Place the wire on a leaf or piece of wood that will float on a still body of water. The wire should align itself in a north-south fashion, with the direction in which you were sweeping on the wire being north.

Fishing lure

This one will really test your creativity. After you’ve laid out all the small parts found inside a cellphone, fashion some of them into fishing lures.

You won’t be able to create the perfect lure, but you might be able to design a couple that work.

Anything you find in your surroundings that could be used for cordage could work as a fishing line.

Of course, the best way to improve your lure is to dig up some worms in the soft earth near the water’s edge.

Dial up a rescue

Now, I’m not suggesting you break open your cellphone to try any of these tactics. A working cellphone beats a dead one in all but the most dire of circumstances.

But if you have a cellphone that will never work again, you might want to experiment with it.

Regardless, it’s good to know that if you’re ever in a situation where you need saving and a dead phone is all you have, you might be able to dial up a rescue.

You just might discover that your cellphone provides a call for help that doesn’t involve a phone call.


  • Susan Patricia Shephard - August 06, 2020

    THANK-YOU for the Cell Phone Survival “Tips.,”

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