There’s a good chance that if you have a first aid kit – there’s at least one triangle bandage in there. And while most of us know those large fabric bandages as an arm sling, that one task isn’t the only thing this cool cloth can do. Here are ten other ways you can use a triangle bandage in a survival scenario or medical emergency.

1. Burn it! Yes, I went with the flashy and destructive option first. Older triangle bandages often are made from cotton, which burns quite well on its own as an emergency fire starter. Newer ones are often made of synthetic material, with is still flammable. Whichever you have, introduce a little oil, grease, lip balm or wax to the burning cloth and the bandage will act as a wick, burning even better and much longer.

2. Filter water Though the cloth won’t screen out any pathogens, pouring water through the cotton bandage will clean up the appearance of the water and remove some of the sediment. This rough filtering job is important if you have silt or debris laden water – and need to use chemical disinfection or run the water through a filter. Silt and debris can absorb disinfection chemicals (reducing their effectiveness) and clog water filters.

3. Make a hat Burning rays of the sun got you down? Use the bandage as an improvised head covering. Leave a piece hanging down in the back to keep your neck covered too.

4. Breathe easier In dusty or smoky situations, the triangle bandage can cover your face to provide a rudimentary dust and particle mask. Dampening the cloth can make it work even better, as the particles of dust and smoke will stick better in damp fibers than dry ones.

5. Eye protection Depending on the weave of the cloth, you may be able to tie a strip over your eyes to protect them from sun and blowing dust, sand or debris. If the threads of cloth are too tight to see through, then cut two slits in the cloth strip for “eye holes.”

6. Cordage If you can tie up an injured arm with a triangle bandage, you can tie up other things too. The entire bandage can be twisted up for use as one, short, fat cord. The bandage can also be cut into strips or even woven into 2 ply rope, if you know how to make your own string.

7. A container Tie the opposing corners of the dressing together to make a bag. Or fold the triangle bandage and sew it to create a pouch. You could even use a strip of the bandage as a strap to turn that pouch into a “possibles” bag.

8. Warmth Tie it around your neck for a gaiter, tie it around your ears for ear muffs, tie it around your face as a mask to stave off frostbite.

9. Cold compress To treat fevers, sprains and even venomous bites, wet the cloth bandage or fold it up with snow or ice inside for a cold compress.

10. Tourniquet If your med kit is lacking this item, then tie the bandage around the dangerously bleeding extremity, slide a strong stick under the bandage and twist. Remember that tourniquets can save lives, but they usually cost you the limb. Use only for severe and unstoppable blood loss.

Leave us a comment to tell us what survival and medical chores you can accomplish with a triangle bandage