Your plane went down. You’re the only survivor. There is a pack of wolves who are intelligently hunting you down. What do you do? Let’s assume that you’re out of range of cellular towers. You may have some apps that can help, such as a compass, maps, first aid guide, etc. But what happens when your battery dies? Smash your phone apart.

The Hardware

Your phone is full of wires, metal, plastic and glass. If you’re really in a bad situation, it’s possible to take it apart and use the components as tools.

Battery: The lithium-ion battery in your phone is probably the most important resource in your toolkit. Due to the fact that lithium is an alkali metal with a high reactivity, it typically bursts into flames when exposed to air.

Gather some dead branches, dry leaves, grass, pinecones; whatever you can find. Arrange the sticks into a cone (teepee), with a wide base and short top.

This is an efficient method because it maximizes air flow. Place the battery at the bottom of your tinder and stab it with a sharp stick or rock. There is an element of danger of course, but it will make a roaring fire.

Unfortunately, you can only use this method once. Another idea is to use the camera lens as a tiny magnifying glass to concentrate the light onto flammable material and try starting a fire that way.

Screen: If the screen isn’t too cracked from smashing the phone apart, you could use it as a signaling mirror as many phone screens have reflective material on the back. By using another sharp stick or rock, put a small hole in the middle of the material. This will help you aim the light better.

Hold the screen up to your face with the circle about one inch from your eye, and look through the hole (but not directly at the sun). Reflect the sun (or full moon) onto a nearby target, like a boulder or even your hand. When your eye is in line with the target and the hole, you’ll see a bright spot. Move the screen toward the object you want to signal, whether it’s a boat, a distant house, or an airplane. As you move, keep the bright spot in view, and when the dot is on your target, the reflection will be too.

Circuit Board: The motherboard or logic board is made of tough silicon plastic. This can be ground down and shaped into all manner of things, like a shiv, spearhead or even a fishing hook.

Breaking it apart with your hands or grinding it with a rock will take time and effort, but the results could save your life, especially if you can shape it into a fish hook. If you have headphones with you, you can use them as a fishing line.

Speakers: Most, if not all speakers, whether smartphone or otherwise, contain a magnet. This can be used to make a rudimentary compass. If your phone has wires inside of it containing iron, you can use the speaker to magnetize the wire.

Touch the magnet part to the wire, and start rubbing the wire from one end to the other. Make sure to only rub it in one direction. Whichever end is in the direction you’re rubbing will become the end that points north. If there is some undisturbed water nearby, you can put the wire onto a small leaf and float it on the water. It will automatically orient itself to point north.

Conclusion & Rescue

Hopefully, these methods can help you in the wilderness, and may even save your life. If you have an old phone lying around, take it with you on your next camping trip. Maybe you can test the methods without needing to risk your life. Don’t use this article as an excuse, though. It’s important to carry a standard first aid kit around, and survival kits are easy to create using better tools. But if you’re unprepared, try using your phone.



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