Emergency Building Tools and Supplies
Normally my columns are generated using questions from people I've never met, but the inspiration for this column came at the dinner table last night. My oldest daughter and her husband are moving to California in less than a week. We had a belated birthday celebration for both of them and the gifts they requested all centered around survival and bug-out items.
"Dad, can you make a list of emergency tools and minimal supplies you'd recommend us to have in case the big earthquake strikes while we're there?" my daughter asked.
"Sure, I can do that," I replied. As the tumblers in my brain started to turn, I decided to share the list with you too. Millions of people here in the USA are susceptible to widespread natural disasters and if some large-scale disaster happens in your town, I'm afraid to tell you but you may never receive timely help from first responders. Here's why.
Less than two years ago, I completed training that spanned eight weeks. I'm now a member of my local CERT team - Citizens Emergency Response Team. The first week of class was taught by our local fire chief and he talked about the community pre-planning list of assets he and his department maintain.
This list is ordered from most-valuable to least-valuable community assets. In other words, if there is a large disaster, the fire department will protect and defend the most-valuable assets first so when the disaster is over, the assets are there for the community survivors. Guess what's last on the list? Your house and mine. Residential homes are the least-valuable community assets.
Stop and think about the number of first responders in your community. How many do you think there are? What's the ratio of first responders to citizens? For every thousand citizens, you might have one first responder. How many fire trucks are there in your community? Ten, twenty, even 100? How many homes are there in comparison?
In the event of a massive disaster in your community, it's not that the first responders don't want to help you, it's just they might not show up for days or weeks. You need to realize you'll be on your own - as will all your neighbors. It's time for you to start thinking like my daughter and son-in-law.
The tools I'd want in a storage box would all be hand tools. Forget about power tools as you may not have electricity for days or weeks. All I have to do is go into my garage and start to pull tools down off my metal pegboard or my shelves. Here's the short list of what I'd grab:
- plumb bob
- two or more tape measures
- 2 and 4-foot levels
- compact hand saw
- framing square
- razor knife and spare blades
- hammers - 20 and 40 oz
- pry bars and crow bar
- carpenter's pencils
- mason's string
- pipe wrench to turn of natural gas at meter
- hatchet and axe
- sharpening files
- curved pruning saw
- fire piston
As for supplies, I'd love to have the following stockpiled:
- various sizes of double-laminated waterproof tarps
- two rolls of strong duct tape
- 200 feet of 1/4-inch rope
- 20 pounds of 16d sinker nails
- three rolls of 30-pound felt paper
- dryer lint and other dry tinder
- 5 pounds of 1-1/4 roofing nails
I could go on and on and on about other tools and supplies I'd love to have, but soon I'd need a warehouse or small building to store them in. As we discussed how close my daughter will be living to the infamous San Andreas Fault, I mentioned that it would be a good idea to store all these things outdoors.
When the big one comes, the last place you want supplies are inside your house or garage. These valuable assets could be buried under tons of debris and you'll not be able to get them as you need them if an earthquake destroys your home.
Storage solutions vary with the anticipated disaster. The last place you would want to store tools and supplies is outdoors if you happened to be in New Jersey or New York when Hurricane Sandy struck months ago. The storm surge would ruin everything or carry them away.
If you're friendly with neighbors, you may want to have a simple neighborhood meeting and work together on assembling tools and supplies that could be shared by a small group.
If you think this is all nonsense, just go back and watch the news coverage of the long lines of people waiting for supplies and things after Hurricane Sandy and Katrina. Talk to people who have experienced large disasters and they'll confirm that you'll be on your own for days and weeks, and it may not be 72 F and sunny during that time period.
As we used to say in Boy Scouts, "Be Prepared!"