Diminishing Returns — Well-Stocked Toolbox by R. Ann Parris
Having the right tool for the job can be huge. It’s even bigger if we’re limited in some way. Those limitations can absolutely be age related, but plenty of injuries and serious illnesses like the flu that sap energy and strength and recovery periods numbered by weeks, not days, can especially benefit from some preparations on the tool front.
Having enough of those tools to keep a handy set of pliers in the kitchen and the bathroom and the bedroom and vehicle and EDC pocket/bag for opening bags and bottles, as well as sets near the shed and the gate to smack or squeeze a latch or loop can make tasks not only easier and faster, but also possible, period.
Those pliers can also be handy for helping people with arthritis, carpel tunnel, and injuries to hands, arms, backs and legs get dressed, especially when it comes to pulling on boots and shoes or the second glove.
While we’re duplicating things, everybody might consider keeping a pair of needle-nosed pliers with their hammers. It’s an easy way to pluck and hold nails in cold weather with cramping hands or through gloves, and it’s also an excellent way to reduce risks of bashed fingers and thumbs.
Another place everybody might want a set is anywhere they’re going to be fighting knots that have been exposed to the weather or under high strain — a set for each hand can be fantastic, but even on their own or paired with a screwdriver, pliers can make everything from shoestrings to 1” rope a whole lot easier to handle.
For those with bad hands from one thing or another, some needle nosed pliers can also be helpful for fighting zippers up and down. Another easy fix for zippers can be simply typing a small loop of ribbon or cord to attach as a zipper pull, although those can give out at the worst possible times.
There are all kinds of tools specifically designed to make life a little easier.
Ammo loaders, come-alongs to help us budge and tow stuff we’d have normally/previously shoved by hand, latches we can handle with thickly mittened paws for hooks, no-knot rope keepers that eliminate tying and wrestling with wet- and ice-hardened knots, kitchen and working knives with big, thick, easy-grip handles, and others all increase our capabilities.
Those grip-friendly handles apply to all the tools in our arsenals, from screwdrivers and files and hammers to our axes, pruners, and even things like brooms, swiffers, sweepers, and garden hoes and rakes.
We might also consider going to low-draw battery electrics for some or many of our tools — the type that can be charged from small, more affordable and more easily deployable mini solar, hydro and wind chargers or even Solo stoves that provide charging as we burn small fuels for cooking. Anything that can help us work faster and more efficiently — or allow us to work, period — is a major boost anytime we’re limited either physically or by time.
We can also employ tools differently, just like those pliers that took first billing (they rate top-of-article status).
Aggravating as it may be, instead of trying to haul laundry with our fingertips, we might think about rolling luggage for transporting it, or even keeping a dolly or hand truck right there for our laundry baskets. Compact folding hand trucks can also be super convenient when it comes time to haul animal feed, groceries, buckets or cases of water, and garden amendments from vehicles to homes, or (paired with bungees or other tie-downs) schlep our canning jars one way or another.
Silicon-dipped kitchen tongs for extending reach and reaching overhead and extended-length pole tools that prevent us from having to climb even a stepstool are others that make things not only faster but also a whole lot safer — for everyone, not only for those with a condition that increases the risks from climbing or who face pain reaching above certain levels or who need to stay braced on something or come on wheels.
In some cases, it’s “just” making life a little easier and less painful. In others, it’s a significant time and labor saver — which is beneficial now, but can be especially beneficial when working through bronchitis and during a disaster where we’re doing more and doing more of it by hand.
There are plenty of tips out there, specifically for preppers but also “just” the general public, how-to and helpful hints from people who found themselves managing on crutches, in a wheelchair, working through a particularly bad illness alone or mostly alone on a farm or with kids and pets to care for, and especially for senior citizens.
There are whole realms of things from can openers to egg shellers that aren’t about laziness, but independence and self-reliance that can make tasks faster and easier for all of us — and that become even more ability-enhancing should we find ourselves, too, seeing diminishing returns for our time.
Give them a search on your favorite sites or browsers, even if you aren’t worried about retirement age and beyond. Those tools and the ways common tools get repurposed make for excellent sickness and injury hedges, whether we ever see a widespread or major personal crisis or not.