After disaster strikes, one aspect of modern life that is sure to be sharply affected is the easy access to tools for building and manufacturing. In fact, many people who haven't planned and prepared will be scrambling and trying to get their wits about them. You'll be way ahead of them, set up with adequate food stores and other necessities. They'll be heading to the local grocery store only to realize most everything is already wiped out.
A perceptive few who have food, water and other emergency consumables covered will flock to their local hardware store — they may not find all the supplies and tool they were hoping to stockpile, should conditions last more than a couple of weeks. Not only that, if the power grid is affected, or if it may soon fail, many will be making poor choices, which you can avoid with a little forethought and planning. The tools to gather are non-power tools. When making your list, the rule of thumb is:
Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.
You'll be glad to have hand tool alternatives on hand, especially if an EMP was involved, but even after a relatively mild catastrophe, say unexpected wide-scale flooding, severe weather conditions, or even civil unrest or martial law, you cannot depend on having electricity to spare for high-demand power tools. We're going to provide you with a list of what tools are the most important, but every situation is different, as is every region. Treat this as a starting point you can build on.
Much of this stuff is not going to be easily portable – this isn't meant to be a bug-out-bag, this article is about planning to have the right tools to repair and re-build AFTER the stuff in your go-bag gets you through that initial rough part.
If you're reading this, chances are a disaster scenario hasn't taken place yet, so now's the time to take stock, plan, then take action. Don't be one of those people racing to the hardware store, hoping it doesn't look like a more violent, desperate version of Black Friday.
Your Immediate Aftermath Checklist:
Make a list of any gear or complex tools or machines you already keep on hand or at your shelter. This should include stuff that you know might not last you for a long-term disaster scenario, but that you figure will be really nice to have in the immediate aftermath. Think generators, lights, pumps, fans, and any communications gear. We'll get to the longer-term tools in a bit, but first make sure you know exactly where every key, special hex-wrench, fuel or air filter (plus extras), strap, handle, crank and cord that belongs with that aftermath gear is. Things may be moving fast when you discover the situation is bad and you don't want to be missing that one special little tool to let you unlock, deploy or adjust what you need to. Does your gear have instruction manuals you never read? Make sure they are close to whatever gear they belong to. No power, probably means no Internet to look that stuff up, remember.
Turn this into a clear, easy-to-read checklist you can keep on paper with space for some notes. On Paper. Build the list using a PC or phone app if you like, but print it out and keep it somewhere easy to find because you should be checking this list on a routine basis. Ever lost the remote for your TV? Multiply that feeling by about a million when you go to refuel your emergency generator and the hose or the funnel or the filter is missing… or the fuel tank is empty. Want a use for your phone apps? Use any basic calendar/reminder feature on your computer or phone to help force you to run down that checklist every month or six months or whatever you figure it'll take to make sure no vital parts walked away, but keep that list on paper because it won't do you much good if the power is out and you just used the last bit of juice in your phone waiting on hold trying to find relatives lost in the emergency.
On to the Main Tool List:
So you've survived the first few hours, then the first few days. Great! It was probably easier because you kept up your checklist routine, especially because of the practical side-effects: Knowing exactly where each part of your gear is, what needed replenished or replaced, charged up or readjusted ahead of time. Also, your aftermath checklist routine helps spot holes in your plans. You'll know what I mean the first time you have trouble getting something bought in summertime fired up during your routine test in winter months. Time to add a cover, container, or some kind of heater to whatever gizmo your checklist reminded you to fire up one chilly weekend!
We'll cover the “Main Tool List” after the break (below). At this stage you'll gather the gear you'll need once some of the dust clears, post-disaster, for maintenance, repairs, and, most important, for manufacturing. This is where the real fun happens, where you'll plan a solid kit for the long-haul, but watch out. This is also the stuff that will make your gear – and you – the object of envy from others caught in a catastrophe: