With regular large scale disasters already common in North America, it’s a good time to talk a bit about disaster preparation and how a 5 gallon bucket can help provide some good physical insurance against a catastrophic situation.
Image Credit: SafetyKitStore.com
A well designed emergency kit will contain the best bits of modern technology and healthcare packaged neatly in a carryable 5 gallon bucket.
Prepackaged Emergency Kits
The simplest way to invest in your five gallon insurance plan is to get your hands on a professionally built kit. Usually these kits are helpfully rated for a certain number of days and/or individuals. Prepared kits will usually contain both food and water (or water purification) and general emergency supplies such as flashlights and first aid. Here’s one popular emergency kit that condenses survival supplies for a family of 4 inside a single 5 gallon bucket.
Build Your Own 5 Gallon Bucket Emergency Kit
In many cases, it’s better to create your own 5 gallon bucket emergency kit. First of all, it gives you a certain intimacy with your kit – you know exactly what’s in there because you were the one who researched it and put it in there! If you’ve put something in there that you don’t fully understand how to use, you can learn that skill long before the flood or earthquake event that could make last-minute skill acquisition impossible. Secondly, putting together your own kit means you can custom tailor it to what’s important to you, your family and your community. For example, in our family we have a lot of allergies – some that can kill one of us very quickly. That’s why an EpiPen is a critically important part of our emergency supply but might not be relevant at all for other families. Lastly, assembling your supplies yourself could save you money. You’ll be able to include many household materials you already have, and you can get a better deal on the items you do need to buy by cutting out the middleman.
The DIY Disaster Preparation Bucket
This emergency kit comes from AlfredoEinsteino on Reddit – who we will call AE - and is published with his permission. At the end of this post is a list of every single item you see here so you can make this exact emergency kit for yourself. Keep in mind that this kit is one person’s collection of items that work best for him. It’s the right kit for AE but may not yet be the perfect kit for you. You should always tailor your emergency kit around what’s likely in your area and your family’s needs.
Organizing the 5 Gallon Emergency Kit
AE has divided his emergency kit into a few broad categories to keep his supplies organized and well rounded:
- General Supplies
- Hygiene Supplies
- First Aid Kit
Every item is listed in detail in a printed contents document. On the back is a list of important phone numbers such as relatives, insurance companies, local law enforcement, fire department, etc. Did you catch the line second from the top? It’s the most important detail on the loadout document – the date. This helps you remember when the bucket was put together so you can keep track of all your expiration dates. A good emergency kit can easily last 5 years or more, but not everything inside will be good for that long and may need to be replaced periodically. Again, the EpiPen example – they only last about 20 months from the day they are made. Replacing an expired EpiPen could be a life or death matter!
Shopping List: 5 Gallon Emergency Kit
The rest of this article will be a list of the contents of the bucket. You can download this list in an editable Word format by clicking here: 5 Gallon Bucket Emergency Kit It may be instructive to compare this list with the much higher calorie emergency kit from Mayday disaster preparation company. Humans usually need at least 2,000 calories every single day – which adds up really fast. Depending on your anticipated needs, you may want one or several food-geared buckets in addition to your emergency supply kit. I’ve linked some of the more unusual items that you might not find at your neighborhood hardware store.
- glow sticks (12 hrs)
- liquid candle
- mylar thermal blankets (link)
- hand warmers (link)
- AM/FM radio
- whistle and lanyard
- sewing kit
- blank notebook
- extra batteries (for flashlight and radio)
- zip ties
- P-38 can opener
- trash bags
- N95 dust masks
- duct tape
- small tarp
- paracord (link)
- safety goggles
- split leather gloves
Hygiene supplies are packaged inside their own separate bag. These basic supplies should look familiar – it’s similar to a toiletries bag you might take on vacation.
- bar soap
- baby shampoo
- hand lotion
- feminine hygiene pads
- toilet paper
First Aid Kit
The first aid box is packaged with a list of contents taped to the inside of the lid. Moist towelettes and antiseptic towelettes and latex gloves kept on top so you can clean your hands before digging through supplies.
- basic first-aid guide
- moist towelettes
- antiseptic towelettes
- latex gloves
- acetaminophen (Tylenol)
- ibuprofen (Advil)
- diphenhydramine (Benadryl)
- loperamide (Imodium A-D)
- burn cream
- sting relief towelettes
- hydrocortisone cream
- triple antibiotic ointment (Neosporin)
- cough drops
- instant ice pack
- nail clippers
- digital thermometer
- cotton balls
- waterproof adhesive tape
- gauze rolls
- gauze pads
- butterfly bandages
- ace bandage
- triangular bandage
- hand sanitizer
- petroleum jelly
- RAD sticker (personal radiation dosimeter) (link)
- potassium iodide (radiation emergency thyroid blocker) (link)
Additional Items Suggested by You
These pieces of kit weren’t included in the example bucket build above but are listed here by popular demand. (links will open in a new browser tab)
- Lifestraw ultracompact Water Filter (link)
- 24-inch Pocket Chainsaw (link)
- 3600 calorie ration bars with 5 year shelf life (link)
- 4-in-1 Emergency Gas & Water Shutoff Tool (link)
- 12,000 Strike Firestarter and whistle (link)
- Hand-crank Flashlight (link)
- Everstryke Match (15000 uses) (get one free)
- Foldable Drybags (link)
- Foldable credit card knife (get one free)
Find more great suggestions on what to include in an emergency kit down in the comments. See also: more ideas for prepping with 5 gallon buckets.