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Besides our intelligence and having opposing thumbs, what sets us humans apart from the animal kingdom is that we can use tools. I’m not just talking about a hammer and screwdriver here; pretty much everything we use to perform everyday tasks can be considered a tool, from the refrigerator we open to get milk, to the car we drive to get to work.
There’s just one problem with all these tools… they can break. Some tools seem like they’re designed to break so that you have to buy another, while others look like they’re built to last forever, but break anyway.
I’ve got a construction hatchet that I’ve replaced the wood handle on at least a half a dozen times, from all the times I’ve used it wrong and broken it. It looked like it was strong enough, but those hickory handles said otherwise.
Fixing things is a part of life; at least for those who know how to fix them. For the others, well, they’re stuck with either paying someone else to fix it for them or having to throw it away and buy another. Some things just aren’t worth paying someone else to fix.
But what about when those items aren’t available? Right now, I could go out and replace that hatchet without spending a lot of money. I can buy a handle for it even cheaper. But will I be able to do that in a post-disaster world? Will lumberyards and hardware stores be open? Will they still have the items I need? I’ll have to say, that’s doubtful.
Yet few preppers bother including repair parts and supplies in their stockpile; either through oversight or not knowing what they need. In either case, not having the right parts and supplies could leave us in a position where something we need for our family’s survival is no longer available to us.
Stocking the necessary parts and materials to make those repairs can be just about as important as having enough filters for your water purifying system.
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Materials to Repair Your Home
Most natural disasters have the ability to cause serious damage to your home; anything from a broken window to a tree falling through your roof. That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to abandon your home, although you may have to abandon some part of it. With the right materials, you can make emergency repairs, making your home livable.
There’s a huge difference between emergency repairs and proper home repairs. Emergency repairs are doing what’s necessary to “dry in” your home, so that the rain and wind won’t come in. Fixing drywall and trim can wait till later. The big concern is making it so that your home can still serve as shelter for your family.
- 2”x 4”s – These are the basic structural elements of your home, hiding in the walls and giving the home strength. They’re what you’ll need if something structural is damaged and you have to shore it up, such as from a tree falling on the house. They are also useful for other projects where structural strength is needed.
- 1”x 4”s – Half the thickness of 2”x 4”s, these are useful for building things where you don’t need the structural strength. They’re not so much for making emergency repairs as for making things that you might need. This is the size most commonly used for making general stuff.
- Plywood – We’ve all seen pictures of people boarding up windows with plywood, either to protect from a hurricane or because of damage caused by rioting. But there’s a lot more that plywood can do. It is the other structural material for the home, used for subflooring, wall sheathing and roofing, under the shingles.
- Plastic Tarps – If you’ve ever driven through an area after a hailstorm, you’ve probably seen roofs covered with blue plastic tarps. This is to keep rain from coming in through compromised shingles. The tarps need to run over the roof peak so that water can’t run underneath them. They can also be used to cover windows and holes in the wall, although there are other options for that.
- Visqueen – Contractors use clear plastic sheeting, which comes in rolls, for a variety of tasks. One of those is to cover up windows and doorways that are missing. It’s also useful for covering furniture or carpeting if the roof is leaking. Buy a heavy-duty grade, so that it won’t tear easily.
- Drywall Shims or Lath – Both plastic tarps and visqueen need to be nailed down if there is any exposure to the weather. But without something to spread the clamping force of the nails out, the nail heads will pull through the plastic.
- PVC Pipe Caps and Glue – Any broken pipes can be capped, allowing the water to be turned back on.
- Copper Pipe Caps & Solder – If your home has copper pipe for the supply lines, you need to be able to cut and cap any broken lines.
- Caulking – If you make an emergency repair, but cold air is still leaking around the edges, a little caulking will fix that.
Parts to Repair Your Car
It’s questionable whether cars will run in the wake of a TEOTWAWKI event or if gasoline will even be available. But if gas is available, you’re going to want to be able to use your car.
That means making sure you can keep it running, making minor repairs yourself, even if your favorite mechanic’s shop is closed. In order to make those repairs, you’d better have some basic parts on-hand.
- Hoses – All hoses in a car’s engine compartment are subject to constant degradation from heat and engine chemicals. It’s always a good idea to have a full set on-hand, as spares.
- Belt(s) – Just like hoses, belts have a tendency to go out at the worst possible times and for the same reason, heat and engine chemicals; they tend to eat into rubber, albeit slowly.
- Engine Chemicals – From oil to anti-freeze, make sure you’ve got enough lubricants and other chemicals.
- Brake Pads – While brake pads don’t need to be changed often, they are a safety item. So, unless you know yours are really good, get a spare set, especially for the front wheels.
- Spark Plugs – If contaminants get into the gasoline supply, spark plugs will gum up more easily, needing replacement more often.
- Fuel Filter – This is for the contaminants in the gasoline too.
- Air Filter – Burning or dust in the air will clog up air filters more quickly.
- Tires – Rather than keeping a spare set around, just keep good tires on your vehicles. Changing a tubeless radial tire, without a tire machine, is difficult.
- Bulbs – While bulbs are gradually being replaced by LEDs in cars, if you have a vehicle that still uses bulbs, its best to have some spares.
- Fuses – Wrapping a fuse in aluminum foil really isn’t a good idea, no matter what your buddy says. Those fuses are there to prevent the wiring from catching fire.
In the event of an EMP, there’s a chance that the vehicle’s computer, all electronic modules and sensors will be fried. That’s how an EMP is most likely to damage vehicles.
With that in mind, the vehicle could be resurrected by changing out those components. It would be quite an investment, but that could make it possible to have your car running when everyone else is walking.
Materials & Parts for General Repairs
The other big area of concern is the survival gear that you’re going to be using every day, whether those things are normal household items or specific survival gear.
Assuming that you won’t be able to just run out and buy replacements, the key here is going to be your ability to repair what you have. That, in turn, will depend on your ability as a do-it-yourself repair man and the parts you have to work with.
- Fasteners – Probably the most important parts to have for repairs are fasteners of all kinds: nails, screws, machine screws, nuts, etc.
- Duct Tape – One of the great “repair all” materials of our day.
- Superglue – Many people use superglue for everything, but it does have its limitations.
- Epoxy – The big advantage of epoxy over superglue is that is has gap-filling ability, something that most other adhesives can’t do. It is also good for high temperature.
- Wire Ties – Good for holding lots of things together; get various sizes.
- WD-40 – The saying goes, if it’s moving and it shouldn’t use duct tape; if it should be moving, but it isn’t, use WD-40.
- Assorted Small Electrical Switches – Most emergency appliance repairs boil down to replacing a switch. Even if it doesn’t match, as long as it will do the job, it’s a good repair.
- Wire – Sometimes it is necessary to replace a wire, along with the switch.
- Crimp-on Spade Connectors – The most common type of crimp-on connector used in small appliances.
- Electrical Tape – To wrap those emergency electrical repairs.
- Critical Parts – Many pieces of survival gear or camping gear have critical parts that can go bad, such as the pump on a Coleman lantern. Identify these parts and get the repair kits for them.
- Water Filter Cartridges – If you have a cartridge water filter, make sure that you have lots of spare filter cartridges for it.
- Cordage – Rope, string and cord are useful for a variety of things.
- PVC Pipe & Fittings (1/2” to 3/4”) – Chances are pretty good that you’ll be doing projects, like plumbing your rainwater collection system directly to your garden. That will require having the necessary pipe and fittings.
- PVC Tubing – Clear plastic, flexible tubing is useful for almost anything where you’re moving water from one place to another and need some flexible tubing.
Keep in mind that knowledge is just as important as having the right parts and materials. If you’re not accustomed to fixing things yourself, start doing so now so you can gain a general understanding of how to fix things.
You might also want to look around for print versions of general repair books to add to your survival library.
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