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. IT should be designed to secure you in a variety of disaster scenarios, while remaining portable enough to take with you if you need to evacuate.
Since this is a website about buckets, we are designing a sample kit that fits neatly in a 5 gallon bucket. You could also use a backpack, but you won’t get the benefit of an airtight, waterproof seal.
Do I Have to DIY? What about Pre-Made Kits?
Great Question. Obviously the simplest option is to just buy a prepackaged emergency kit from a company that makes them. Most of them are crap but there are a few gems if you’re willing to hunt for them. Click here to read my cheeky opinions on different emergency kits, including some actual high quality ones.
Better Yet, Assemble Your Own 5 Gallon Emergency Kit
Building your own kit gives you a real intimacy with it. You know exactly what’s in it and how to use it, because you did the legwork to put it there. If you add something that you don’t fully understand how to use, you can learn that skill long before the flood or earthquake event.
Secondly, putting together your own kit means you can custom tailor it to what’s important for you, your family and your community. For example, my family is cursed with a lot of deadly allergies. So all our first aid kits have an EpiPen. Your family may not need one. Best to have your loadout all figured out before an actual emergency.
Finally, assembling supplies yourself saves 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 sample emergency kit comes from a friend and is published with his permission. This is a beast of a kit. There’s a ton of great stuff in here and I’m going to list 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 my friend but it might not be the right kit for you. You should always tailor your emergency kit to what’s important to your family for emergency survival in your area.
Free Tools for your Survival Kit
Several people in the comments section have mentioned this company that periodically gives away a certain quantity of their survival tools. Typically you just have to pay shipping and handling.
These are my favorite three tools they frequently give away. None of these take up much space at all so they are perfect for the 5 gallon emergency kit.
Credit Card Multitool
This is such a useful tool it is actually included in the high-end “Get Home Kit” we reviewed on our pre-packaged emergency kit review article.
It’s a knife, it’s a wrench, it’s a ruler, it’s a can opener. Even if you never get around to building your 5 gallon bucket emergency kit, having one of these in your wallet (or purse) secures you in a lot of different situations. Here’s the link to get one free.
Don’t get me wrong, standard wooden matches are a miracle invention. Fire on command!
But matches have their downsides. For starters, they become useless when wet, you gotta keep buying em, and for a long-term supply, they take up a lot of space. The Everstryke match is good for 15,000 strikes – that’s enough to replace 50 big boxes of standard matches. Not bad at all. In case you were wondering, it’s a “wet match.” That means it uses lighter fluid, but you can still use it to spark a fire to life without the fluid. It’s quite versatile. These are also free, but there is a limited quantity.
Lights up a huge area, but only weighs 2 ounces. It’s really remarkable how much brighter and battery efficient modern flashlights are.
Every emergency kit needs at least one flashlight, so you might as well get one of the best, and you might as well get it free.
Organizing your 5 Gallon Emergency Kit
The bucket emergency survival kit is divided into a few broad categories to keep the supplies organized:
- 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. Don’t forget 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 survival 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!
Download the List: 5 Gallon Emergency Survival Kit
The rest of this article will be a list of the contents of the bucket. Download this list in an editable Word .doc format by clicking here:
What about Food?
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 have some ideas on the pre-packaged emergency kits article I mentioned earlier.
I’ve put purchase links on some of the more unusual items that you might not find at your neighborhood hardware store.
- glow sticks (12 hrs)
- flashlight (see above)
- 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 (link)
- 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)
- High Power LED flashlight (get one frree)
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.