The most common disaster that any of us are likely to be confronted by in our lives is a natural disaster. I don’t care what part of the country you live in, there is some sort of natural disaster you need to be concerned about. Whether that is hurricanes in Florida or earthquakes in California, natural disasters can hit us in ways we don’t expect and don’t prepare for, even while we my think that we are prepared.
One of the common effects of these disasters is some sort of damage to our primary shelter, our home. While there is not much you can do if a tornado totally destroys your home, many sorts of natural disasters only damage homes, without totally destroying them. In these cases, you can still safely occupy your home, using it as shelter, although there may be one or two rooms which are damaged to the point of being uninhabitable.
We’ve all seen it; the aftermath of a major storm, where tree limbs fall on houses, crushing a corner of the home or hail storms which severely damage the roof. Sometimes, the people move out, staying in a hotel until repairs can be made. But that’s not always an option, especially if the insurance company isn’t paying for the hotel room. Nor can we always count on a timely repair, especially if many people’s homes are damaged at the same time.
In such cases, the most important thing to be able to do is to seal off your roof, windows and walls, “drying in” your home and keeping inclement weather out. We’re not talking a full repair here, returning the home to its original condition, but rather a temporary patch, so that you can keep the heat in and the rain out.
It doesn’t take much to do this, just a few basic materials, which you can store in your garage. Along with some basic hand tools, this will give you the ability to dry in your home and keep your family safe, as long as your home has not lost its structural integrity.
- 2”x 4” Studs – You can build a framework for just about anything with 2”x 4” studs. For example, if you have a section of the roof that is sagging, you can build a support to hold it up. You can also reinforce walls and floors, which may be leaning.
- Plywood – Plywood allows you to make patches in walls, floors and roofs. Typically ½ inch thick plywood is used for walls and roofs and ¾ inch thick plywood for floors. However, in an emergency, you can use ½ inch as a temporary floor repair. But it won’t be as strong.
- Tarps – If you’ve every driven by a neighborhood that has been hit by hail, you’ve probably seen roofs covered by blue plastic tarps. The blue ones are the thinnest and weakest, but they are still good enough to cover a roof and keep the rain out for months. Just be sure to have the tarp to over the roof peak, so that the rain can’t run down the roof and under the tarp.
- Lath Strips or Furring Strips – The wind will cause nail heads to pull through tarps. That can be prevented by putting some sort of washer under the nail head, like the lid from a soda bottle. However, what works best is to nail the tarp in place by nailing through strips of wood.
- Nails – Get a variety of sizes; 4 or 6 penny for use with nailing down tarps, 8 penny for nailing plywood in place and 16 penny for nailing 2”x 4” studs together.
- Visqueen – Clear plastic sheeting, which can be used to cover windows. This works better than a tarp, because it will still allow light to come in. A staple gun would be handy for putting up the visqueen, although you can do it with nails, just like the tarp.
- Duct Tape – Good for sealing around the visqueen and other general sealing, as well as general holding things in place. Buy a good brand, as the adhesive varies considerably between different brands of duct tape.
With those items, you should be able to take care of just about any damage to the exterior of your home, keeping the weather out and making it safe to inhabit. But there are a few other items you should consider adding to that list:
- Plumbing Fittings – Most homes today have plastic plumbing pipes, which are much easier to work on. Find out what size pipe is used (probably ½” or ¾”) and buy some fittings, especially caps, as well as the adhesive for them. That way, if you have a broken line, you can cap it so it won’t leak and still have water in the rest of the house.
- Wire Nuts & Electrical Tape – As with the plumbing, you might end up with a situation where you have exposed wires that are a fire danger. In most cases, you can solve the problem by tripping the circuit breaker that the wire is connected to. But just in case, have some wire nuts and electrical tape on hand, so that you can terminate a wire safely.
- General Hardware – For a long-term survival situation, you will most likely find yourself making things and doing general repairs. A good assortment of hardware will help make this possible.
- Caulking – Useful for sealing cracks in walls, fixing water leaks and blocking out insects.
Make sure you have manual tools to use with all these materials. We are all so accustomed to power tools these days, that we might not have such things as a crosscut saw. But in a grid-down situation, those power tools aren’t going to do you the least bit of good. Better to have at least the most common tools in manual versions as well.
- Crosscut Saw
Keep in mind that you’re not looking for beauty in any of these repairs, but rather functionality. While your neighbors might make fun of how your repairs look, at least you’ll be warm and dry. Them? Well, since they didn’t bother to stockpile these supplies, they probably won’t be as well off.