Prep your home for a natural disaster

Nov 29, 2013 at 1:30 p.m. ET

Whether you live in an area known for ground-shaking earthquakes or volatile hurricanes, you need to make sure your home is ready for a natural disaster.

flooded street

In terms of home maintenance, what items can you gather now to help prepare for a potential natural disaster?

Natural disasters happen in all areas of the country — and often without warning. Being prepared for anything Mother Nature might throw your way doesn't just mean having extra food and water on hand. Gathering the right tools and home items you may need is a simple thing you can do now, in case you need them later.

What to have on hand

In the event of a natural disaster, you may lose access to your tool chest, garage or shed where most of your home maintenance items are stored. It's a good idea to secure a disaster kit with tools and other items that will come in handy in the event of an emergency. Store this box near your emergency water and food rations in an area that will be easy to access when you need it.

Tools and things

Tools and things for a natural disaster

  • Multi-use tool (Bass Pro Shops, $30) — small enough to put in your pocket, and has a variety of small tools all in one
  • Hammer (Sears, $19) and nails — for minor repairs or for setting stakes to hold tarps or sheeting
  • Pliers (Sears, $18 for a set of five) — needle-nosed and regular
  • Wrench set (Home Depot, $20 for a set of seven) — various sizes needed for repairs
  • Emergency gas shut-off wrench (Amazon, $10) — to turn off the gas to your home
  • Utility knife (Grainger, $13) — helpful to have one bigger than the size that comes with the multi-use tool
  • Duct tape (Wal-Mart, $4 per roll) — several rolls, useful for many minor repairs
  • Plastic sheeting (Wayfair, $20) or tarp (Wal-Mart, $20) — many uses, including coverage from rain
  • Stakes (Lowe's, $3 each) — for holding tarps down
  • Signal flare (Amazon, $20) — for emergency signals, to get the attention of rescue personnel

Safety items

Safety items for a natural disaster

These tools and safety items should help you during the initial period after the disaster, when you may be dealing with minor repairs or putting up temporary shelter while waiting for rescue personnel.


For more information, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has lots of helpful information on their site, or you can visit the American Red Cross site for tips on preparing for many different types of disasters.

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