I'm going to give you a scenario about fire. Let's say there was a terrible storm that hit your city, rain, flooding and winds that were blowing the roofs of off houses. You had a good cache of supplies in your basement, enough food, water and survival equipment to see you through for months, in case a disaster like this ever occurred. Now it was all under water and your house has basically blown down on top of it.
You were at work, your kids were at school and your wife was at the doctors because she's pregnant again. (just saying) Now, by the time you left work, picked up the kids from school and met your wife back at your home, it was all gone. Not just your home, the whole neighborhood. No one thought it would hit this hard and this fast. All you have with you is the clothes on your backs. There is no power, there are trees uprooted and chaos all around, you had a hard time getting back to your house and now that there's nothing left, where are you going to go? What's the plan? You have your immediate family with you, but what about your parents, and your sister and her family that live on the other side of the city? The towers are out and your cell phones aren't working. There's so much devastation everywhere, you don't know if you'll be able to drive there or not. It's getting dark and you want to be able to keep your family safe for the night. Your wife has a mini van, but it has less then a quarter of a tank of gas, you have almost a full tank of fuel in your truck and you have no means of getting it out. Besides, you don't want to use all your gas up, running your vehicle to keep everyone warm. You have no idea when you'll be able to get more, your going to have to conserve and try and make it last. You take the kids and your wife can follow in the van, you may need it to sleep in.
The first thing you have to do is get to higher ground and get away from the flood zone, there's about a foot of water on the street, things are floating everywhere. There are fires going on all around from the downed power lines, before they blew the transformers and caused the main power plants to shut down. You don't want your family around these uncontrolled fires, you want to get them where they'll be safe for the night. Through all the debris you make your way to safer ground, people are jamming up the roads trying to get out, so you check for other ways out, back alleys, parks or walkways. You have to watch where there's ditches as the water will be a lot deeper and you don't want to flood your engine or you'll be stuck, right there and then.
Once you get to drier ground you look around for a wind break of some kind. You find the mall where you used to shop at, it's dark and deserted other then some security guards patrolling the front and back entrance ways. You approach them and let them know your just looking for a wind break, but they don't want you anywhere on the property and ask you to leave immediately.
Not far from here, about a block away, are some brick buildings that house offices, you drive to the back were the wind has diminished and you look for something to make some kind of shelter. You'll look through your jockey box and see what you can find that will help you out. You find a tarp and a tow rope and you get really excited. You passed four dumpsters along the back of the building, not only will they help to make a shelter, but some of the material in them should be dry and provide a fire supply. Using your tow rope you skid them to where they will do the most good. You push them in place with the bumper of your truck, you now have two dumpsters in line with each other against the building, you then push the other two dumpsters against the wall a little further down, just far enough away so that when you open the lids on the dumpsters, it forms a peak.
Your now protected on three sides, leaving the front for a place to build your fire. You then put your tarp over the peak of the dumpsters, you then try and find some straps or rope to anchor the tarp down with. If you can't find any thing to tie a weight to each edge of the tarp, you can cut your tow rope and use strands from that. No knife, you can use any hard object like a tire iron, on the edge of a bumper or other metal edged object and hammer down on the rope to cut it through. The wind has died down but it's still raining out. You find enough dry material in the dumpsters to build many fires. Your going to use some and you'll store the rest in your truck. There was pallets at the mall, so you go and load as many as you can in the back of your truck and bring them to your new camp site.
Now your going to have a roof over your head and a heat source, so next you'll take the back seats out of the van and put them in your makeshift tent. Once you get your fire going you'll park the van close enough that the kids can lay down in the back and still get some warmth from it.
What the heck can go wrong next, you don't have any matches or lighters! Neither you or your wife smoke so it was something else you never thought about. You scrounge around the van and find some used tissue paper, you pick at the material under the seats of the van and the truck, anywhere there isn't any moisture. The carpets will be saturated with rain from getting in and out with wet footwear. You find a bit more tissue in the glove compartment and you put it all together in a ball, now you only hope that the cigarette lighter works. You push it in until it pops out and glows a bright red, then you touch the tissue, it starts to smolder and you gently blow on it, you keep blowing, a little at a time until it bursts into a little flame. You quickly put the flame under the dry material you put aside and you slowly build your fire, until your burning pallets and providing your family with some real warmth.
If the cigarette lighter didn't work, you can also arch your battery to create sparks, just do it away from the battery with jumper cables, so you don't blow the battery up in your face.
Now, what am I going to feed them? That's another story, but you can see how a disaster can really leave you in distress. Start planning.
Pictured below is a fire starter using flint and a striker. A handy item to carry in your vehicle at all times.