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American troops in Iraq have become masters of improvisation, like bolting jury-rigged armor to humvees to shield themselves from sniper fire and shrapnel. Lately, an even more novel item has joined their battle kits… Silly String.

Marines working in Iraq have shown Army combat engineers how it can be used to detect trip wires. Before searching buildings, for example, soldiers spray doorways from at least 10 ft. away with streams of foam–and see if they’re snagged by barely visible wires, which are often affixed to bombs. The Army acknowledges the off-label use.

So the next time you waste string at a party, remember it could save a life.

Editor note: If you would like to help, Marcelle Shriver is collecting Silly String to ship to Iraq. Her son, Todd, is a soldier in Irag. You may contact her at : [email protected]