Best Survival Tools and Equipment Immediately Following a Disaster

It’s simply amazing what people can build and fix with today’s modern power tools.  As our reliance on advanced systems and mechanical tools increases, it’s the Prepper in me that thinks about what hand tools would be needed and useful in case SHTF.  After a hurricane, tornado, or other major catastrophic event – you may find yourselves in major need of tools around your house but without electricity to run your power tools.  Let’s consider the best hand tools to keep around the house in case of an emergency and the use case for each.

Phase 1 - Emergency Tools

Immediately after an emergency you may need to act quickly to rescue someone or something. A hurricane or tornado just ripped through your area causing immense damage. Consider these hand tools your best friend when time is of the essence.

1) Headlamp

I put a headlamp first since it is more than likely you will need it.  If the disaster happens at night (50/50 chance) - then you will absolutely need a headlamp to navigate your way with the power out. If it happens during the day, but you find yourself searching through a damaged home without power, you will also probably need a headlamp. While not the most powerful light source, keeping your hands free will be critical to acting as fast as possible.

Black Diamond Storm Headlamp
  • One QuadPower LED and one DoublePower white LED emit 350 lumens
  • Red, green and blue SinglePower LEDs for night vision have dimming and strobe settings and activate without cycling through white mode
  • PowerTap Technology allows instant transitioning between full and dimmed power
  • Brightness Memory allows you to turn the light on and off at a chosen brightness without reverting back to full power
  • Sleek, low-profile design uses four AAA batteries

2) Adjustable Pry Bar

If your house is impacted by a major disaster you may need to break a few things to free people or important items. Consider a large pry bar as your best friend for wedging things open or move doors that may be jammed with a damaged house frame/foundation.

3) Sledge Hammer

In addition to prying things open, consider a large and heavy sledgehammer to break things open. If you have ever demoed before, you understand the power of a properly controlled sledgehammer on things like doors and walls. If you find the doors simply won’t open, remember how easy it is to break through walls in case of an emergency.  Studs are typically 16 inches apart, so if you need to get through quickly don’t be afraid to take out part of a wall.

4) Log Splitting Maul

My personal favorite whenever I need to break something, I find the log splitter to be more useful than a simple sledge.  With a solid edge, giving this tool a solid smack into anything is sure to cause some serious damage and break apart those hard to break areas.

5) Pick Head Fire Axe

Finally, if you need to get through a solid wood door or thing that simply won’t break – consider a Pickaxe as your best friend to cut through. A sharp edge on one side and a very solid pick on the other, this tool will help you breach anything that is solid.


Phase 2 – Assessment Tools

After the initial shock of a disaster when everyone is now safe, it is important to assess your situation and get good bearings on what just happened.  Figuring out your situation is critical for deciding your next course of action.  Consider these tools to help you regroup and move forward shortly after a disaster.

1) Emergency Radio

Once the dust has settled and you are safe, the next course of action is to get connected. With the power down, there is the potential for the internet and possibly cell service to be interrupted or overwhelmed. Consider purchasing an emergency radio that has a hand crank (my favorite emergency radio). This way you can stay in touch and don’t need to keep fresh batteries. This one is my personal favorite and what I keep in my own home.

2) Hand Crank Flashlight

You will see a theme here as we highlight the various options to keep your home lit up during an extended power outage. A small, powerful, and reliable hand crank flashlight is a very handy tool to keep around in case of an emergency. With new LED lighting technologies, they are surprisingly bright and maintain light for an extended period using just a hand crank. Keep a few of these handy – as kids love having their own flashlight when the power is out and these are easy to pass around.

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3) Glow Sticks

Quick and easy to use, simply snap the glow stick and you have instant light! Now I would not rely on these for most of your lighting since they obviously run out and are not reusable but having a few handy is a good idea.

4) Thermal Blanket

Of course, your home has ample supplies including warm blankets and clothes. However, you should consider these affordable thermal blankets as a backup in case your house is flooded or significantly damaged. Keep these with your emergency supplies in a safe place – preferably where you would shelter during an emergency. If you find many of your possessions scattered or missing, it will be nice to have these as a backup.

5) Emergency Flares

Once the dust has settled, you may find yourself in need of help or assistance. Without the internet or cell service you should consider other ways to signal for help. Emergency flares work great to alert first responders to your need. Consider keeping a few handy to let those around you know that you need help. I would suggest keeping both traditional flares and LED flares handy.  While the LED flares require batteries that eventually go bad, they also can be set on anything without the fear of starting a fire. This means you could signal from the grass in your front yard or roof or any surface that could get the most attention.

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6) Fire Extinguisher (link)

After rescuing your family from an emergency, you may find yourself in a situation where a minor fire needs addressing with a handheld fire extinguisher. Now obviously I am not talking about a major house fire, but something smaller scale. First make sure your gas is shut off from the outside as follows. Then after also ensuring that the fire is not near something seriously combustible (propane tanks), use a household fire extinguisher to put out the fire. No reason to watch your house go up in flames if you have the power and opportunity to put it out!

7) Fire Extinguisher Ball

Like the last item, its also worth considering a fire extinguisher ball to help with fires that may be a little bigger but still small enough to address while you wait for help. Fire extinguisher balls are great tools to consider because you don’t need to stay by the flames for the product to work. Simply toss the ball into the blaze and watch it put out the fire – hopefully.


Phase 3 – On Your Own

Everyone is safe, your home is in order, now what is next. Chances are your home is damaged, possibly severely from the major disaster that just ripped through. Depending on the circumstances there could be broken windows, downed trees, holes in your roof, or any other type of damage that needs addressed. The next phase is cleaning up your home and property to prevent further damage while you wait for things to get back to normal.

1) Hammer and Nails

If you have a major hole in your roof or window and need to patch it, don’t count on your power drill to help you! Enter the trusty hammer and nails. I would suggest having a solid framing hammer in your tool chest with framing nails as well. These will come in handy as you work to secure your property.

PS… also worth noting – if you put up any window coverings for storms, consider if you want to use nails, screws, or bolts.  Nails come in handy when you can only get to your hammer and the power is out. You could use screws if you have a charged drill.  Or some may secure your window coverings with heavy duty bolts – if that is the case make sure you have the proper wrench (see below) to take them out.

2) Hand Saw

With downed trees or limbs, you may need to remove parts to get out of your garage or driveway. A solid hand saw can do wonders on downed limbs. Granted a power saw would be much better. So, if you have a gas powered chainsaw, then of course use that, but if you are like most of us, just make sure you have a trusty hand saw at a minimum.

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3) Extra Lumber

In the aftermath of a major storm, consider keeping a few extra pieces of lumber around your home to help patch holes and fix other types of damage before series restoration can begin. 2 by 4s are always handy, as well as consider keeping plywood of a decent thickness as well. You don’t have to store the large 4 foot by 8 foot cuts of plywood, you can buy smaller pieces as well as ask your hardware store to cut them for you into smaller 4x4 cuts. Most will gladly do this at no charge.

4) Portable Generator or Solar Charger

The storm is over and maybe even the sun has come out, but do you know what may still be out… your power! Consider keeping a backup power source handy to power a few things around the house. A portable generator is a great option as well as a small solar charger for electronics like cell phones.

5) Universal Torque Wrench

If any device or appliance that has bolts and nuts, needs tinkering, a torque wrench can prove to be useful. A torque wrench is exceptionally useful where the tension of the tightness of bolts/nuts is crucial. A universal torque wrench could prove helpful if you find that the storm impacted your garage or tool storage area.  Consider keeping a handy universal tool with your survival gear as a backup.

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6) Duct Tape

Finally, consider keeping a few rolls of duct tape handy to secure any odds and ends when you try to clean up. Duct tape works wonders in a pinch and after a disaster you may be surprised where it comes in handy!


Final Thoughts

If you have a heads up or a warning of a scheduled power cut, then it would be a great idea to ensure that devices like phones, tablets, and laptops are fully charged. Also, keep power banks handy and charge them as well if needed.

Hopefully when disaster strikes your family and home are left unharmed. If not, these tools should help you straighten things out sooner than most. On a related note, consider your food and water storage as well before a disaster – make sure you are stocked and ready!

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