5 Disaster Survival Must-Have Tools

It is interesting to ponder the fact that humans have been blessed to live in some of the mildest, most stable weather in the entire 4.5 billion years or so the Earth has existed. That is likely to elicit some raised eyebrows and snorts of derision, but the geological records show the weather on Earth has been more violent in the past, much more violent. Even so, natural disasters strike with regularity, and there doesn’t seem to be any place humans live that is immune to them.

So, if natural disasters are a given, it makes sense to be prepared to handle any mess they leave behind, both inside and outside the home. That requires the right tools, and as a tool guy, any excuse to increase my tool inventory is a good one. Let’s take a look at five tools you will positively want to have on hand for Mother Nature’s next visit.

Warning: These tools are not appropriate for use during a visit from your mother-in-law.



Anyone recall the sitcom, “Home Improvement?” The main character was obsessed with more power, regardless of the task. Chainsaws put me in that mindset. Nothing takes care of downed tree limbs like a chainsaw. If you have trees on or around your property, then a chainsaw makes short work of clearing storm damage. Have an extra chain, plenty of fuel, and chain lubricant handy.

Size matters in chainsaws. From personal experience, a saw with a 12-14” blade is going to be ideal for homeowner use. Saws with longer blades are heavier and harder to control. For the occasional user, this combination can be dangerous. The smaller saws can be used to cut logs with a diameter exceeding their blade length and are easier to use in the confines of a downed tree’s limbs.

Caution: The average number of stitches needed in a chainsaw mishap is 110!

Ax or machete

Going old school with a hand tool can work off stress and do jobs ill-suited for a chainsaw. For this, I recommend either an ax or a machete.

An ax can serve double duty at home and in the field on a camping or hunting expedition. But a machete is a nice addition to yard tools such as loppers and bow saws. Which one to choose is a matter of personal preference. Or, get both!


Cleaning up immediately after a natural disaster does not require a lot of finesse. Before you repair storm damage, you may need to engage in a little demo. For that, there are wonderful tools like drywall hatchets, wrecking bars, and the most versatile of all, the sledgehammer.

When there is a mess inside requiring demolition, the sledgehammer is the king, baby. You will want a long handle in either hickory or fiberglass with an 8 or ten-pound head. There’s not much a sledgehammer cannot take down. You are the demolition version of Thor!

Reciprocating saw

The reciprocating saw is another excellent tool in your disaster arsenal but is only useful after the power is flowing. If something needs a little more “delicate” touch than the sledgehammer provides, a reciprocating saw is often the tool for the job.

Cutting through sheetrock or individual studs is a snap with the reciprocating saw. Make sure you have a variety of blades for materials you might encounter like metal, plastic, and wood.

Safety gear required

All these tools carry a risk of personal injury even when used carefully and respectfully. To make sure you don’t become a statistic of the disaster, add the following safety gear:

  • Gloves – heavy leather, use with every tool
  • Chainsaw chaps – use with the chainsaw and machete/ax
  • Eye protection – use with every tool
  • Ear protection – use with the chainsaw and reciprocating saw
  • Face protection – use a face shield with the chainsaw and a face mask with the sledgehammer and reciprocating saw
  • Face mask – use inside for protection from mold and other toxins
  • Head protection – use under trees and for demolition
  • Foot protection – use steel-toed shoes or boots with the chainsaw and machete/ax

For maximum a “cool” factor, you can buy helmet systems that integrate a mesh face shield, hearing protection, and hard hat. It is limited to chainsaw use for the most part but can be used in demolition and with the reciprocating saw. It’s on my wish list.


Eventually, the rough work is completed, and it is time to put things back together. Now you can bring out your finesse tools. It gives you an excuse to use everything in your arsenal from your cordless drill to your compound bevel saw to your Grizzly lathe. Disaster recovery is one reason we have tools, to take care of business in the aftermath of one of Mother Nature’s increasingly common “weather events.”