R. Ann Parris on Basic Household Tools & Supplies


Basic Household Tools & Supplies by R. Ann Parris

When we start embarking on preparedness, we find lists of all kinds. This isn’t going to focus on food, water, sanitation, or fire control, or on weapons (although, some of them…). Those, self-reliant mindsets, and the ubiquitous bugout bags are all handy, but there are some basics that pretty much any household should have on hand, and a few more that vehicle and property owners will find handy.

See, regardless of where we live, urban or rural, rented studio or ample acreage, things happen. Some of them happen on Saturday nights and Sunday mornings when there is no immediate response. Some of them happen on the road, with help cut off or better than 45 minutes away.

Being able to handle them ourselves, at least temporarily, can be huge. That calls for even just a handful of basic tools and supplies.

Contractor/lawn bags, duct tape, and scissors are biggies.

I specify the bag type because they tend to be larger and a little sturdier compared to others. I point out scissors, because there’s less risk and regularly more control than box cutters or a knife.

With them we can water-pack belongings, patch small holes, cover windows, and create effective ponchos, sleeping bags, tarps, and ground covers.

We can layer bags under a sheet for infants, toddlers, and seniors, or somebody with explosive sneezes. We can also layer them under a sheet to cover floors against animal accidents, or to protect socks and bare feet from wet spots after we clean up.

Duct tape … whew. From creating a durable protective boot for a cast to fabricating a temp fill-in for under-the-sink plumbing, quick-patching a hole in a window or tarp to making it less likely a window will shatter if hit by limbs/bricks/lawn furniture, duct tape and gorilla tape know no rivals.

Every household should have a reciprocating saw and a drill — with 1+ batteries that are actually charged.

The tasks of a drill can absolutely be done by hand, and having regular Phillips/cross and flathead screwdrivers is important.

However, there’s force-multiplier factors involved with reciprocating saws and drills.

The two-second whirrrrr of either replaces 5-20 motions — or many more. The physical labor is reduced to pressure and a trigger pull (and the ability to hold onto a rattling saws-all). They’re both also highly adaptable in uses.

Those combine to allow more people to do more work, and do it in less time.

That efficiency, regardless of circumstance, should not be ignored in favor of either manual-or-bust mentalities or heavier tools, especially tools that are harder to start, require more maintenance and effort to change tips/blades, or are harder to “feed” like corded or fossil-fuel tools.

While I’m huge on having manual backups and regularly tout the versatility of a good folding limb saw, and while I am deeply devoted to my chainsaws, with a reciprocating saw and a handful of blades, we can get a lot done.

It’ll take time and some strategic planning, and possibly a vehicle, tie-off, or come-along for tension and safety, but we can use them to move big branches and fair-sized trees out of our way. Clamps or a belt are handy, but they’re also more than capable of the control needed for cutting lumber to size — say, to board up windows, tack a tarp for a roof patch, fix a fence, or slap together a step or ramp.

With a hacksaw and laminate blade, we can also get patch a section of plumbing and get through the roots that are blocking and possibly gumming up a water or sewage line.

A hammer is irreplaceable.

Ideally, we’d have a hammer and a couple of mallet options and better yet a whole selection of hammers, but with a buffering piece of 2×4 scrap and a shortish section of 1” pipe, an ol’ hammer at all will do, so long as it has a nail claw and is a comfortable fit and weight for swinging.

Fix a barbed-wire fence, tap in stakes to shore up the bottom of mesh fences or for the garden, fix protruding nails three different ways, bend light metals, open windows and tap out doorknobs or erect board barriers across them, unlock locks we can’t find the key/combo for, test soundness of steps and logs and hollow pipes for occupants, and lightly or forcefully jimmy anything that should be moving but isn’t — hammers cover whole realms.

They can even be part of our recreation plan by knocking jugs off posts and top rails akin to axe throwing, and they’re handier than brass knuckles for keeping in the front of the car.

A handful of basic tools deliver a world of capabilities.

The list of even just very basic tools can go on. Even this list sometimes requires extras like screws and nails to max efficiency.

Two of my top picks for add-ons would be a sturdy tool handle (walking stick sized) and a bucket — or, you know, 5-15-50 of them. Same goes for rope. They just increase our capabilities that much.

The ability to turn off gas and water is a biggie, too.

A simple step ladder is up there for freestanding home and property owners/renters, and a ladder tall enough to access gutters, windows, and roofs if that won’t.

A readily deployable rope ladder for multi-story homes with bags/harnesses sturdy enough for small children, pets and-or seniors is a must-have in my world, although that’s veering away from this focus of “tool” and into the realm of fire and flood evac tools.

Of course, with these, and those top-pick runner-ups, we can make some of the others out of household and easy-salvage materials, to have waiting on hand for deployment.

They’re a starting point. We can do a lot with them — if not “most”. From that starting point, we expand to other fasteners, specialized tools, other raw materials, and expanded capabilities. Meanwhile, they handle the basics anybody may face, flatland desert and prairie to rough mountains, apartment flat to raw retreat property.