There are many lists around of what you should stockpile to be ready in case of an emergency. Most of those focus on the food that you should have on hand, as well as some basic survival supplies. There’s nothing wrong with that, but category is often missed: repair supplies.
Many of the most likely disasters which we are preparing for are natural disasters. These commonly cause moderate to severe damage to people’s homes—the same homes that they have everything stockpiled in and are trying to survive in. With damage to the home, it’s hard to use it as a survival shelter.
Moderate damage to a home, or even severe damage that is localized to only part of a home, doesn’t necessarily make it uninhabitable. The government may decide to declare that the home is damaged beyond repair, but doesn’t mean it can’t be a shelter for survival, at least until a better option becomes available. However, staying put may require some modest repairs, such as covering windows that were shattered and fixing a hole in the roof.
With the right materials, you can do a lot of repairs to a home. The home won’ be returned to like-new condition, but it can be fixed up to protect you from the elements. It doesn’t have to be pretty, just functional.
• Tarps. These can be used to cover up a leaky roof, a hole in the wall or a window that has had the glass broken. Tarps are probably the easiest and most versatile home repair material there is to work with.
• Clear Plastic Sheeting. While you can cover broken windows with tarps, you’re better off using clear plastic sheeting. Not only will it let more light into the home, but it will also make it possible for you to see what’s going on outside.
• Lath or Furring Strips. If you just nail or staple the tarps or plastic sheeting in place, the wind will tear them out. You’re much better off nailing them through lath or furring strips. These thin pieces of wood will spread the pressure out, preventing tearing in the tarps.
• Plywood. Plywood is another easy way to repair holes in walls and roofs. It’s also stronger than using a tarp alone. While a tarp may work fine for a typical leaky roof that has hail damage or shingles that have blown off, if there’s a hole in the roof from a tree branch, you’ll probably need something with a bit more substance. That’s where the plywood comes in handy.
• 2″ x 4″ Studs. You can build anything from walls to roofs with plywood and studs. You can even build a smokehouse out of them, if you need one for smoking a steer you happen to shoot.
• Duct Tape. It’s no secret how useful duct tape is. With it, you can repair lots of different things, even if you don’t have the right repair materials to use. Make sure you have plenty as you’ll find plenty of uses for it.
• Wire Ties. Almost as useful as duct tape, these plastic ties are typically used for bundling wires. They come in a variety of sizes and are great for tying just about anything together, even criminals’ hands. I once made a shelter in the woods by tying the branches together with wire ties.
• Caulking. Good for repairing all types of leaks. You may need it in conjunction with your other repair materials to make sure that the rain can’t get through that repair in your roof.
• Wire Nuts. For connecting electrical wires together. If part of your wiring is damaged, you may need to disconnect part of your home’s electrical system. In that case, wire nuts will allow you to reconnect the parts that are working, as well as cap hot wires that aren’t attached to anything.
• Plumbing Fittings. It’s possible that the part of your home that gets damaged is the part with pipes running through it. In that case, you may need to splice plumbing pipes or even cap them off in order to use the water in the rest of the house. Be sure to have the adhesive and primer to go with the fittings.
• Hardware. All types of hardware are likely to be needed, especially an assortment of nails and screws. You might need brackets, hinges and latches as well to close up your temporary repairs.
• Extension Cords. If you end up using a generator or any alternative electrical power system, you will need extension cords to get the power to your appliances and other electrical devices. There’s no such thing as having too many extension cords.
The Bottom Line
A few simple materials can make all the difference between keeping your home usable and sleeping out under a tree. While you won’t be able to return your home to its pre-disaster condition with this short list, you will be able to dry it in so that your home can protect you from the weather. Safety makes any repair worth doing.
In addition to these materials, make sure that you have the necessary tools, especially manual tools that don’t require electricity. We are so used to using electric power tools these days that many people don’t have their manual equivalents. If the power goes out, as usually happens in any disaster, power tools won’t do anyone any good, even with the materials to work with.