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Build A Homeowner’s Kit for Natural Disasters


Most of us think of storm preparation as boarding up windows, getting extra milk and bread, and clearing the yard of loose items. As blizzards become more frequent and deadly, preparing for natural disasters will require you to step up your game a bit. For those of us in New Jersey, it’s important to prepare for unprecedented storm damage. Take a cue from first responders to build a next level prep kit for natural disasters.

More than fighting fires 

Although we think of them as firefighters, our state’s elite first responder crews do a lot more than put out fires. The emergency team responds to every public safety need, whether it’s a chemical spill, flood, or downed electrical wire. The team responds to so many different situations, it’s as if someone cloned MacGyver into a crew of elite responders. They carry an assortment of simple tools which can be combined to create a unique solution for any problem.

As you gather materials for your disaster kit, think about simple tools rather than complex solutions. It’s more about having the right tools to build a solution than an expensive tool for each situation. Although a fire truck is outfitted with expensive and complex devices and equipment, the materials used to respond to emergencies are often quite ordinary and readily available.  

Temporary solutions instead of a permanent fix

Liquids and gases only cause problems when there is a leak from an appropriate storage container, like a frozen water heater, burst underground pipe, or flooding. Response team members assemble a variety of equipment and materials that allow them to patch or plug accidental leaks in hundreds of different types of containers.

The tools may be as simple as a tire patch kit spray, washers and nuts, duct tape, spray foam insulation, and wooden plugs. Patching a leak might be as simple as placing a deflated innertube over a storage drum to form a temporary seal. Various sizes of inflatable pipe plugs can quickly stop a leak. When a patch or plug can’t fix the problem, response teams use physical barriers like rubber stoppers, neoprene gaskets, silicone seals, sand or lime to prevent further damage or to isolate a spill. The ability to dissect the math and physics of a problem and respond quickly under pressure with a creative solution is the real trick.

Homeowners can build a similar emergency kit

Assemble an assortment of plugs, gaskets, pressure-sensitive tapes, patches, clamps, sandbags, and household items like innertubes. Organize and label them thoroughly so that even someone unfamiliar with your storage system can find things easily. Remember that your goal is to patch, pump, and isolate the problem long enough for professionals to fix it. You don’t have to create a permanent fix out of pieces, just a temporary solution.

The city might deploy $1,000,000 in equipment to get these creative engineers into position, but surprisingly simple materials can be a lifesaver in an emergency. Model your emergency kit after response personnel who use common, ordinary tools applied with a touch of creativity and ingenuity in emergency situations.

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