by Chad H
During the most recent years of my adult life, my finances have changed significantly, which forced me to seek additional ways to support my family. In my chosen career (firefighter) I have gone back to school in order to obtain additional training to become a Paramedic. The additional skills I am learning will allow me to provide better care for people in need, and give me more useful skills for a post SHTF scenario.
I have also taken on a second career as a handyman, doing odd repairs and to-do lists in my off days. Both of my current careers as a firefighter and as a handyman have much to offer in the area of survival and prepping. With this, I have been able to learn about many tools, their practical uses, and applications which would provide a positive benefit in a SHTF environment. The following descriptions are some suggestions that may be helpful to you.
Oxygen/Acetylene Torch: This type of torch is very versatile and reaches extremely high temperatures. An oxy/acetylene torch is capable of cutting many types of steel including chains, bolts, sheet metal, tubing, and locks. An oxy/acetylene torch also has the ability to weld steel, loosen corroded nuts/bolts, brazing, bending and forming all types of steel.
With all these options available, one could easily salvage parts from cars, repair fences, strengthen structures, or any other type of steel-related project. Oxy/acetylene torches do not require electricity making it very mobile and useful in a grid down environment. Additionally, an oxy/acetylene torch reaches temperatures of approximately 6330 F, thus giving it the ability to easily melt the following examples of metals: iron at approximately 2750 F, steel at approximately 2500 F, gold at approximately 1950 F, and silver at approximately 1765 F.
Propane Torch: This torch does not reach as high of temperatures as an oxy/acetylene torch, but it is inexpensive, very common, and easy to use. The propane torch is great for soldering copper pipe together (sweating pipe). Many propane torches come with convenient electric igniter which would make it a great fire starter in situations that demand more BTU’s than a regular cigarette lighter or matches can offer.
Another way of increasing your operating temperatures but having the convenience of one tank is using MAPP gas. It operates the same way as propane, but it burns at higher temperatures enabling you to melt some metals like lead or silver with it. Some systems use separate oxygen and propane/MAPP cylinders to increase the temperatures to almost oxy/acetylene levels. Additionally, some propane torches use very common “Coleman” style 1 lb. cylinders making use and storage of these tanks dual purpose.
Generator with 3-way Carburetor Conversion Kit: Having a generator on hand speaks for itself. With it you can run any number of electrical tools, operate lights, keep refrigerators cold, and be able to charge batteries. The unfortunate side is most residential use generators operate solely on gasoline. Gasoline is great if you can get it, but when it runs out you do not want to burn up your last fuel source for your vehicle.
If you are able to store gasoline, it is possible for it to go bad within a year even with fuel stabilizer. There is a kit you can buy for most gasoline generators that allow you to convert your standard carburetor to run on three fuels: gasoline, natural gas, and propane. You will always have some gasoline on hand, but why waste it if you can use natural gas that is being piped into your home?
If the grid goes down that flow of natural gas may stop, so then switch over to propane. Propane is great because you can store large capacity tanks without anyone showing concern, and it can be stored for many years as it virtually never goes bad. To make the generator more portable, you can operate it off 25lb. grill style tanks. Additionally, the propane you are storing can be used for other applications like heating water and cooking. Google search “propane carburetor conversion kit”.
Halligan Tool: In combination with a sledge-hammer, this is one of the most versatile hand tools available for breaching a means of egress. It is in use on nearly every fire company in America due to its’ versatility and effectiveness. The tool consists of a claw or fork end used for prying into doors or latches, the other end consists of a tapered pick used for breaching locked doors or punching holes and the wedge or adze which is another option for prying. Usual lengths are 24” to 42”, constructed of forged steel, and weighs 8 to 12 lbs. Google search “Halligan tool”.
18 Volt Cordless Drill Combo Kit: Currently the drill kit I use is an 18 Volt Ridgid, but there are many other brands that are just as serviceable. My kit included an 18-volt drill with work light, reciprocating saw, AM/FM Radio, and a flashlight. The kit included (2) batteries, and I have (2) additional batteries from a previous drill purchase which are all interchangeable.
The Ridgid brand is durable, and the batteries have a lifetime warranty. As long as I am able to charge the batteries, I will have a dependable flashlight, radio, saw, and drill without wasting disposable batteries or fuel to constantly run a generator. This will enable me to do work around my structure or listen to the radio for updates very easily and efficiently.
I also upgraded the light bulb on the flashlight from a standard incandescent bulb to an LED which will last longer and not use as much battery power. The bulb was easy to find at Superbrightleds.com for only about $10.00. There are additional accessories made by Ridgid like a shop light that uses the same battery, which can be purchased as well.
Pressurized Water Can: A great tool that most fire companies carry is called a PW can. It is a stainless steel can about the size of a large fire extinguisher that carries about 2 ½ gallons of water. On the top is an air valve that allows you to pressurize the can. It operates the same way as any fire extinguisher: PASS- Pull, Aim, Squeeze, Sweep.
These small cans actually put out a lot of fire do to the pressurized stream exiting the nozzle. They are however only recommended for use on Class A combustibles like wood and paper. In a grid down environment, the need for fire extinguishers will be high and there may be a lack of pressurized water available. With the PW can, it can be emptied and refilled as often as needed as long as water and pressurized air are available. Google search “pressurized water fire extinguisher”.
WD-40: Well, I like this stuff. It is very simple, but you can do a million things with it. For years I have used it in all situations around the house, as I am sure most people have. In a SHTF environment, the tools you have with you will be all the tools you have. They have to work and they must be taken care of. WD-40 is a great lubricant and a great preventative for rust and corrosion.
I recently began cleaning and protecting my firearms with it and have had great results. You can also repair many varieties of sticky mechanisms with it. This stuff is cheap and does not go bad. To me, it is the duct tape of the lubrication world.
The following is a list of tools that I recommend every home should have. These will be important for any situation you find yourself in as they have many practical uses. In a SHTF situation, these tools could save your life.
- Leatherman Multi-Tool-At least two
- Bolt Cutters- Cut locks, fences, metal
- Come Along- Lifting objects, pull-out stuck vehicles, securing vehicle loads
- Farm Jack- Lifting objects, pull-out stuck vehicles
- Chainsaw-Extra chains, oil, spark plugs, oil mix
- Shovels- At least two
- Axes/Hatchet- At least two
- Machete- Making trails, trimming bushes, also a scary weapon
- Pruning Saw- Great for small firewood
- Hand Saws
- Air Compressor
- Pneumatic Tools
- Full Wrench/Socket Sets
- Full Screw Driver Sets
- Full Allen Wrench Sets
- Worm Drive Construction Saw
- Side Grinder-Steel Blades/Masonry Blades
- Flat Black Spray Paint (Lots)
- Bullet Puller- Gunsmithing
- Brass Extractor- Gunsmithing
- Rubber Mallet- Gunsmithing
- Plastic Mallet- Gunsmithing
- Pin/Nail Punch- Gunsmithing
- Files- To sharpen all edged tools
- Soldering Iron- Repairing electronics, wiring applications
- Full Sets of Pliers/Cutters
- Chisels- Woodworking
- 12 Volt Water Pump
- Hacksaw- Extra blades
- Duct Tape-Lots
- Electrical Tape
- Manual Flammable Liquid Pump- To siphon gas
- Drill Bits
- Hammer-Sledge, construction, Estwing’s are good due to metal handle construction
The above list is a good starting point, as there are many tools that could be added to this list, and your personal needs will determine what tools you should have. Please do consider some of the above tools for your home or getaway as they may save your life. Be aware of your surroundings, practice like its real, and may God be with all of you during the tough times ahead.