Tools & Personal Items

The Point

You are a unique person with unique needs and abilities. Your personal preparedness plans should be as well. Do you have allergies? Vision or hearing impairment? Special medication? Other issues unique to you? You need to have plans and supplies to meet those needs before the emergency starts.

What tools and supplies do you need to be happy, healthy, and comfortable in an emergency situation? Do you have medical training that requires specific medical tools? What tools do you have in your vehicles and do you know how to use them? Think about where you spend time, what skills you have, and what tools and supplies you will need to "be ready" during difficult times.

Do This

  • Customize you and your family members' disaster supply kits to meet your own and their own personal needs.
  • Have an assortment of hand tools, equipment, and other supplies that will be useful in an emergency situation. Learn how to safely use and maintain them.
  • Add personal items to your home emergency supplies according to you and your family members' needs and abilities.
  • Create a prioritized emergency "grab list" of important items and tools that do not fit in your disaster supply kit. Most important items first.
  • BONUS: Get spare parts for your emergency tools and learn how to make repairs.

Tools and personal items pretty much covers everything in your emergency preparations that isn't covered in the other eleven areas of emergency preparedness, anything that helps you survive, thrive, and recover. Remember that this list and all other lists are someone else's ideas of what is important. Buying a "ready made" disaster supply kit off the shelf just supplies you the general basics. Personalize your kits for you. Each kit should be unique to the person it is meant for. Add additional items to your emergency supplies to meet your own individual needs.

Red Be Ready Utah Backpack representing a disaster supply kitDisaster Supply Kit Tools and Personal Items

Multi-Function Pocket KnifeA knife is a basic tool that should be in most emergency kits, with the exception of young children. Knives can be used for cutting, chopping, preparing and eating food, building a fire, lighting a fire, self-defense, digging, carving, hunting, and many other things. It is an essential tool. There are many different kinds and many different qualities of knives. There are single blade folding knives, fixed blade knives, and "swiss army" style knives with other functions included. A pocket sized “multi-tool” has many tools in one. Knife, pliers, wire cutter, screwdrivers, can opener, file, and saw are some common features. Find one that fits in your budget and needs. Be sure to include a small knife sharpener.

Duct tape is a very versatile tool. It can make quick repairs to tools and shelters, be used in first-aid and making splints, making cordage, and other things. Carry about ten yards. Wrap it around a knife sheath, water bottle, or other tool to save room in your kit.

Rope and twine are important for making shelters, tying gear together, and repairing tools. 550 paracord is a popular kind of rope for emergency kits because it is light weight, very strong, and can be taken apart into individual strands for lighter uses. Carry at least 50 feet.

garbage bags can be used as water-proof ponchosIn addition to being used to dispose of garbage, garbage bags can be used to line the inside of your kit to make it water proof. It can also be used to carry additional clothing, shelter, or supplies. It can be made into a rain-proof poncho or as a make-shift shelter. Smaller produce baggies can be used for smaller items as well. Zip-seal style baggies can e used to help organize items in your kits and to protect items from possible water damage if your pack gets wet.

Lensatic compass

Lensatic Compass

A compass always works, even if your GPS is out of power. There are many different kinds of compasses. These three are the most common. Simple survival compasses just show you the direction of magnetic north and may have a few other degree markings. Baseplate or orienteering compasses are designed to be used with a map and are mounted on a clear plastic plate. Lensatic compasses kind of look like a clam shell and have a sighting wire and sighting lens to orient to distant objects. The important thing is to know how your compass works and that it points to magnetic north, not true north. Learn how to use a compass.

A compact sewing kit contains some needles and various colors of thread. Some include items like buttons, small scissors, a thimble, or other items. Use to repair clothing and gear, and in a pinch as some rudimentary first-aid supplies.

Depending on your angling skills, you may want to add a pocket fishing kit. Don't worry about a pole. Just some hooks, line, sinkers, and maybe some small lures. You can find a stick for a pole when you need to.

A small notebook and golf-sized pencil can be used to copy down important information, directions, or contact info. Use it to send a hand-written note. You can make a rudimentary map, or to pass time doodling. Paper and pencil shavings can also be used as tinder to start a fire. Writing down feelings, and events can also calm a stressful situation.

A non-glass mirror can be used for personal hygiene, self-administered first-aid, and emergency signaling.

An N-95 mask can be used for the obvious reason to protect you from airborne disease, but it also can help protect you from dust and other debris in the air that would make it difficult to breath. In a pinch, it can also be used as a pre-filter for water.

A bandana can also be used as a mask, though not as much protection as an N-95. It can also be used has a head covering, for first-aid applications, as a signal flag or trail marker, and as a pot holder.

Everyone should have some entertainment items to pass potentially stressful wait times like a deck of cards, pocket game, paperback book, and puzzle books like crosswords or sudoku. Pictures of family, friends, and pets can also be stress relivers. Keep them in a small 4x6 soft cover photo album with your important documents. Sometimes a pack of chewing gum or hard candy can also help with short-term stress diffusion. Children also need to have some entertainment and distraction items. A child's activity book and colored pencils (not crayons), soft cuddle toy, or other favorite toy are good things to include in a young person's emergency kit.

A good set of heavy-duty work gloves will protect hands from cuts, scratches, and bruises when proper hygiene and first aid are more difficult.

Are you visually impaired? Make sure to have a spare pair of glasses or contacts, glasses case, lens cleaners or contact solution. Sunglasses can also be a benefit that will help ease the strain on your eyes, especially if you are not used to being outdoors a lot. They can also be used as eye protection if there is blowing debris in the air or if you are performing first-aid.

Are you hearing impaired? Include a spare hearing aid and batteries.

Have teeth issues? Don’t forget dentures and denture cream, toothache gel, or sensitive teeth toothpaste.

Have allergies? Include medication, eyedrops, or an EpiPen as needed.

Need specific prescription medications or inhaler? Include them in your kit if you are able and be sure to include a copy of your prescriptions. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about having extra for emergencies.

Do you have medical training? What other medical gear and supplies could you include?

Have trouble sleeping? Public evacuation shelters can be noisy. Include an eye mask and earplugs.

Trouble walking? Don’t forget your specialized shoe insoles, cane, or other walking aids. Many people could benefit from a collapsible walking stick that can fit in your disaster supply kit. Use it for walking assistance, probing flood water, and self-defense.

Don't forget feminine hygiene supplies, personal ointments, or other unique hygiene needs.

Are you a person of faith? Don’t forget scriptures, prayers, or other religious items.

Don’t speak the local language very well? Pack a small translation dictionary. Don’t rely exclusively on your phone for translation apps.

Be sure to include in your disaster supply kit list anything you need to be happy, healthy, and comfortable.

Other Tools and Personal Items

You probably already have many of the tools needed in an emergency. Take time to organize them and make sure they are in working order. Have spare parts and extra fuel to keep them functioning.

Fire extinguishers can prevent small emergencies from becoming large disasters. Have fire extinguishers in all areas of your home where fire is likely to occur. Check them YEARLY and make sure they are stored in easy to access areas. Know how to use them and practice with household members.

Digging tools can be especially helpful during an emergency. Shovels for scooping out flooded basements, filling sandbags, digging flood diversion trenches or sanitation holes. Don't forget a pick or other tool to help dig in rocky or frozen ground. Some empty buckets can also help with moving dirt and other debris.

A chain saw can help you quickly remove downed trees or other wooden obstructions. Be sure to have replacement chains, oil, fuel, safety gear, and a working knowledge of how to safely use it. You may also want to learn how to sharpen the chain yourself.

A fully stocked tool box with the basics including hammer and nails, various screwdrivers, pliers, wrenches, a utility knife, measuring tape, wire cutters, etc.

Gas shut-off wrench in front of gas meterKnow where to shut-off the natural gas to your home with a gas shut-off wrench. Only shut it off if you see, hear, or smell a gas leak, or your home is off the foundation.

Heavy-duty rope for lifting people or securing/towing heavy objects.

A pry bar can be used to open a door wedged shut in an earthquake, to break through drywall, or used with a fulcrum as a lever to lift heavy loads. You may want to add some cribbing to brace and stabilize the heavy loads.

Use a quick deploy window fire escape ladder as a second exit if the primary exit is blocked in a two or three story building. Keep one in each occupied upper room.

Hunting and fishing gear can be used for obtaining additional food during an emergency. Learn to use them legally, safely, and effectively.

Blue tarp covering hole in roofHeavy tarps or plastic can be used to cover holes in windows or a roof. It can also be a make-shift shelter or a rain cover for supplies.

Most cars come equipped with auto tools like a jack and lug wrench. Learn simple repairs on your vehicle and add additional tools to your car kit.

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