In the early log of human history, one of the things that first separated man from the animals was the use of tools. In a catastrophic situation, having the right tools on hand could spell the difference between life and death for you or your loved ones. Here’s how you can get started today to put together your own basic collection of emergency tools.
For your kit to be effective, you must be able to take it with you. I am sure the first thing that comes to mind is the time-honored toolbox. Actually, a toolbox is a poor choice. Nothing appeals to a thief or person who failed to prepare like a classic, shiny toolbox. Also, you want to be able to have both hands free if you have to transport your kit and most toolboxes are designed to be hand carried.
Find yourself an old backpack frame and attach a medium-sized dry box to it. I suggest placing the box on the foot of the frame where you usually see a rolled-up sleeping bag attached. You can secure it with waterproof duct tape, a couple of ratchet straps or both. This box will house your tools and, by simply shouldering the pack, you can travel hands free if required. Remember, the beauty show is over. This rig looks rough but works great on the go.
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This is a basic tool kit that will allow you to tackle a very wide range of tasks that could present themselves in a time of distress. Avoid the temptation to buy inferior quality tools, which will become junk. You are much better off purchasing one quality piece each month in order to have something that will last generations.
First off, you’ll will need a good set of screwdrivers. My wife bought me one of the Craftsman screwdriver sets years ago and it is still as good as new. The set comes in its own little rubber tool roll. Be sure to get one with both flat- and Phillips-head tips.
A loose bolt is a commonly encountered problem. Provide yourself with one 10-inch adjustable and one 12-inch adjustable wrench and you will be able to handle almost any bolt or nut that needs attention. I like the Crescent brand models. Avoid getting one too long to fit inside your dry box. The 10-inch model will fit perfectly inside most curbside water meter boxes in case you have to shut off the water after a line bursts inside your home.
Get yourself a really good set of pliers. I would locate the largest set of Channellock brand pliers (channellock.com) that would fit inside your dry box. Avoid low-quality gear like it was the flu. Using a poor set of pliers is frustrating. A disaster is not the time to have a tool break or fail.
Try to find yourself a 12-ounce ball-peen hammer and the largest framing claw hammer that will fit your box. A ball-peen hammer looks like it has a head on both ends and no way to pull a nail. This type of hammer is great if you need to bend a piece of metal or crack something open. The framing hammer looks like a typical hammer that has been on steroids. In an emergency, no one will be critical of your amateur carpentry skills. This big hammer packs a punch and will reliably drive large nails with ease.
In almost every survival or emergency situation, you will be called upon to cut or chop something. How many times have you seen some actor portraying a bug-out situation where he is holding a rifle in one hand and a large axe in the other? Unless you are Paul Bunyan or have Viking blood flowing in your veins, leave the axe alone. And since we are talking about what to leave alone, forget the chainsaw, too. Instead, find yourself a 12-inch bow saw. You are not going to cut a cord of firewood with this beauty, but it will serve you well in an emergency.
I like the Bowhack bow saw made by Nicholson. It also comes with a spare hacksaw blade that allows you cut steel rods, cables, sheet metal, locks or most things metal. The wood blade will make short work of fallen limbs or clear brush for a campsite. It is light, small and can be taped to your backpack frame.
If you have to stay warm by a campfire you will need to be able to split some wood that you have sawed into short lengths. A good hatchet can do this. The hatchet is not heavy enough to split wood by swinging it over your head.
Set the log that you have cut up on its end. Strike it with the hatchet just hard enough for the blade to stick in. Then, us- ing a smaller log that you have sawn, drive the hatchet through the block by striking it on the back of the blade. This spot is called the poll on a hatchet. Keep your left hand on the end of the handle to keep things balanced. The Gränsfors Bruk is the Cadillac of hatchets. This is a must have. These are hand forged in Sweden by folks who know what they are doing.
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Ready To Respond
With this simple collection of tools you will be ready to handle a vast array of survival tasks. This kit is not complete, however, without a few other items. Buy a couple of pounds of 16 penny nails. Penny is a term from medieval times that refers to size not cost. Buy a couple of pounds of galvanized roofing nails. Get the ones with a rubber washer. These allow you to nail roofing back on or nail a tarp in place, and the rubber washer makes a watertight seal so it won’t leak. Also, make sure you store your nails in waterproof containers, like recycled plastic peanut butter jars. This way you can tell at a glance what size nail is in each jar, and they stay dry and rust free.
Buy yourself an Arrow brand T50 staple gun and several boxes of staples. You can use this tool to staple up plastic sheeting where a window has been broken out, or you can staple up a tarp to keep wind and rain out of a broken door. Its uses are seemingly endless. Also get two or three plastic tarps of various sizes. The bigger the better. Leave them in the packaging they come in. Try to find the brown ones in case you have to make a shelter that you might want not to stand out. A roll of thick plastic sheeting is very economical and has a myriad of uses. Don’t forget to include a couple pairs of safety glasses and a pair of leather-palmed work gloves.
This kit is something you can start today to be prepared for tomorrow.
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For More Information
This article was originally published in the SURVIVOR’S EDGE™ Fall 2015 edition. Subscription is available in print and digital editions here.