When there’s wreckage everywhere and you hear cries for help, you will need to act and act fast. To handle the aftermath of a disaster you need to make sure you have the proper tools to get to work. Building a disaster tool kit is the clever way to go and here is why.
My father in law has a big toolbox in his truck and he keeps carrying it around. I always assumed he needed it for maintenance work or such on his property and he keeps it in reach. After sitting down with him and discussing about it, I realized he’s basically carrying a disaster tool kit. He started doing so since a few years back when a storm almost destroyed their community. He learned the hard way how difficult it is to find proper tools in the aftermath of a catastrophic situation.
After a disaster devastates your area there will be a lot of repair work to be done. Repairing and rebuilding takes time and resources, but it’s almost impossible without the proper tools. You can’t borrow the tools from your neighbors since they will probably need them for themselves. Not to mention that help could be miles away and you will be on your own. In a catastrophic situation having the right tools on hand can make the difference between life and death.
Make sure to keep these tools in your disaster tool kit:
Since a large part of your home is made of concrete along with lumber, you will need brute force to go through. All these hard materials mixed together in a snarled mass could block your way. Until you will be able to use other more powerful tools, a sledgehammer will do the work. It will help you pry, cut or hack your way in.
If you need to crack apart nailed beams or lift tangled rubble then a prybar is the right tool. Keep a large crowbar handy to use the power of leverage to your advantage. Think about tight spaces as well and get a couple of smaller ones.
There will be a lot of debris after a disaster and once you start pounding with the sledgehammer they can fall on you. To make sure you don’t get any head injury, I advise you to wear a hard hat. This inexpensive construction helmet will help you keep your head on your shoulders. Falling branches are also a common problem when doing cleaning work. To stay on the safe side, keep a hard hat in your truck or disaster tool kit.
When clearing out rubble or doing manual work, you will have to keep your hands safe. Keep a couple of leather work gloves in your disaster toolbox. You will be able to work without worry of splinters, abrasion or dirt. It’s not a bad idea to keep one or two extra pairs for the people who can pitch in and give a helping hand.
In an emergency situation you will probably have to crawl your way in and out. Kneeling and working on things close to the ground won’t be unusual work during those times. Try to get some quality kneepads to protect yourself from injuries. Go for surplus military kneepads since those are sturdy and quite cheap.
Safety work boots
In the aftermath of a disaster there will be a lot of dangers created by construction materials. Body parts can be hacked, smashed or punctured. Your feet are the most vulnerable parts when walking on unknown terrain. To stay on your feet, get a quality pair of safety work boots. Choose one that offers toe protection and has a proper lacing system that prevents laces from unraveling and tripping you up.
Since you may be working on slippery surfaces caused by oil spills or other liquids you need to maintain your balance. Not to mention that you could be doing repair work on an incline like a damaged roof. For extra grip, you could use some quality snow cleats. It will cost you only a few bucks and it will save you from slipping and breaking your neck.
Get yourself a really good set of pliers that can help you to also cut tangled wires. Something sturdy that would fit inside your disaster toolkit. Avoid knock-offs because using those would be a frustrating experience. You don’t need a tool to break or fail after a disaster as it will decrease your morale even more.
After a disaster, a loose bolt will be a common problem and you will encounter this issue more than once. Get yourself a one 10-inch and one 12-inch adjustable wrenches to handle almost any bolt or nut that needs attention. Choose one with the proper length to make sure it fits in your disaster tool kit.
Related article: 17 Must-Have Items To Prepare For Weather Disasters
A sturdy hammer
I went with a framing claw hammer for my disaster tool kit since it packs a good punch. It’s also good to remove large nails with ease. You can also opt for a ball-peen hammer as well since it’s a good tool to bend a piece of metal or crack something open.
After a disaster, shovels of all shapes and sizes will come in handy. You can even use a snow shovel to scoop out mud and sludge. Once again, think about tight spaces and pack a foldable camp shovel. You will be able to fold it up to a convenient size and it won’t take too much space in your disaster tool kit.
Tree work and cutting tools
After a powerful storm, there could be downed trees everywhere. Their large canopies can block your way and prevent you from working properly. A good chainsaw will get the job done for most work, unless it’s a fuel shortage. Axes and hatches might work your muscles, but they will do the job when you can’t use your chainsaw. For other clearing work, think about getting a 12-inch bow saw. You will not be able to cut firewood with it, but it will serve you well during a disaster.
A light source
You need to also think about illumination for when the power is out. After a disaster, chances are you will be doing some of the work in the dark. Even during daylight, you may find yourself crawling in a dark, tight space looking for survivors or supplies. Headlamps are the way to go here as they will help you keep your hands free. For open areas, get a foldable solar lamp that can illuminate a wide area if needed. Coleman lanterns for example, can run on a variety of fuels and can provide enough light for your sleeping or work area.
Rope, Duct tape and a Tarp
I believe these items need no further details and, they should be part of any emergency kit. May it be a disaster tool kit or a bug out bag. There are countless ways you can use these items during an emergency and it’s always better to have them on hand.
Some overlooked items
Since you won’t be able to carry everything in your disaster tool kit, there are some items you need to set aside. Keep them in the garage to have easy access after the disaster hits. I assure you these items will come in handy and you will be glad you stockpiled them.
These buckets are a life saver and you can use them to haul anything you can think of. Once you start collecting your stuff from the debris you will be able to store them properly in these buckets. Even more you can wash pretty much anything in them and also give yourself a sponge bath if needed. The uses are nearly limitless.
Plastic bottles or jugs
For smaller items that need to be airtight, waterproof or have hard case protection, plastic containers are ideal. They are transparent and help you figure out what’s inside. Nuts, bolts, screws and what not can be properly stored in plastic containers. First aid items, repair kits and even food items can be stored in plastic bottles or jugs.
Super-sized garbage bags
Unfortunately, most of you stuff will become junk after a disaster. Since there will be a lot of cleaning taking place, you need heavy duty garbage bags that are up for the work. The good part of keeping these items is that you can improvise various uses for them. You can make a rain poncho, a ground tarp and even primitive shelters. With a bit of duct tape, you can turn any garbage bag in waterproof covers for anything you need. Fill them with clothes or soft materials and you can improvise a sleeping mattress. These items will always be in a demand after disaster hits, so make sure you keep some in your disaster tool kit.
Your disaster tool kit should be as efficient as possible and you should keep only tools that you know how to use. Avoid electrical power tools and stick with their manual counterparts. There could be no more electricity, you may not have enough fuel or access to a generator to run those tools.
Anything you can salvage can be reuses so think about that before throwing it away. It may not be obvious at first, but it will help you save a lot of money. Always asses the integrity of your home before attempting to enter or do repairs. You have to make sure the structural integrity isn’t affected. If the walls or support beams have been damaged, the house could collapse and it’s better to move out. You should have at least 2-3 tarps that you can use to cover holes in the walls, broken windows, roof holes, etc. These are a temporary solution until you are able to rebuild or repair the damage.
Suggested reading: Reusing Garbage In A Post SHTF World
Another thing you have to do in order to assure the integrity of your house is to shut down the utilities. If your house is still standing you don’t want it to catch fire or get flooded. Installing shut off valves and labeling them accordingly should be a must for every house regardless if you bug-in or bug out.
And last but not least, if you manage to get your hands on a working generator to power your electrical tools respect the safety rules. They produce toxic fumes and must be run outside and away from windows and doors. Not to mention that there’s always the risk of electrocution, especially in flooded areas.