5 Gallon Bucket Uses: Emergency Kit


With regular large scale disasters already causing problems 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.

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 daysand/or individuals. Prepared kits will usually contain both food and water (or water purification) and general emergency supplies such as flashlights and first aid.

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 itemyou see here so you can make this exact emergency kit for yourself.1

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.1

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 add to this list foods with  much higher calorie. Human beings need about 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.

General Supplies1

  • glow sticks (12 hrs)
  • flashlight
  • liquid candle
  • matchbooks
  • mylar blankets
  • hand warmers
  • AM/FM radio
  • whistle and lanyard
  • sewing kit
  • blank notebook
  • pencils
  • extra batteries (for flashlight and radio)
  • zip ties
  • P-38 can opener
  • trash bags
  • N95 dust masks
  • duct tape
  • small tarp
  • paracord
  • safety goggles
  • split leather gloves

Hygiene Supplies

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.1

  • bar soap
  • kleenex
  • floss
  • baby shampoo
  • hand lotion
  • sunscreen
  • toothpaste
  • toothbrushes
  • feminine hygiene pads
  • comb
  • toilet paper
  • washcloths

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.1

  • basic first-aid guide
  • moist towelettes
  • antiseptic towelettes
  • latex gloves
  • acetaminophen (Tylenol)
  • ibuprofen (Advil)
  • aspirin
  • diphenhydramine (Benadryl)
  • loperamide (Imodium A-D)
  • burn cream
  • sting relief towelettes
  • hydrocortisone cream
  • triple antibiotic ointment (Neosporin)
  • cough drops
  • earplugs
  • instant ice pack
  • tweezers
  • nail clippers
  • scissors
  • digital thermometer
  • cotton balls
  • waterproof adhesive tape
  • gauze rolls
  • gauze pads
  • moleskin
  • band-aids
  • butterfly bandages
  • ace bandage
  • triangular bandage
  • hand sanitizer
  • Q-tips
  • petroleum jelly
  • RAD sticker (personal radiation dosimeter)
  • potassium iodide (radiation emergency thyroid blocker)

Feel free to comment and give your own suggestions on what to include in an emergency kit

By Trevor van Hemert from fivegallonideas.com

15 Replies to “5 Gallon Bucket Uses: Emergency Kit

  1. Additional Items Suggested
    • Lifestraw ultracompact Water Filter
    • 24-inch Pocket Chainsaw
    • 3600 calorie ration bars with 5 year shelf life
    • 4-in-1 Emergency Gas & Water Shutoff Tool
    • 12,000 Strike Firestarter and whistle
    • Hand-crank Flashlight
    • Everstryke Match (15000 uses)
    • Foldable Drybags
    • Foldable credit card knife
    • High Power LED flashlight

  2. Life lessons learned:

    glow sticks (12 hrs) (cyalume brand 20 year shelf life guarentee)
    extra batteries – for flashlight and radio (Duracell 10 year shelf life guarentee)
    moist towelettes (never last long term)
    antiseptic towelettes (never last long term)
    latex gloves (latex won’t last long-term, Nitrile only)
    sting relief towelettes (never last long term)

  3. Does anyone know what happened to Dime Piece LA celebrity streetwear brand? I seem to be unable to proceed to the checkout on Dimepiecela site. I have read in Vogue that they were acquired by a UK hedge fund for $50 million. I have just bought the Dimepiece Retro Unisex Heavy Blend™ Crewneck Sweatshirt from Amazon and absolutely love it xox

  4. Does anyone know what happened to Dimepiece LA celebrity streetwear brand? I cannot proceed to the checkout on Dimepiecela site. I’ve read in Vogue that they were acquired by a UK-based hedge fund in excess of $50 m. I have just bought the Dimepiece Friends Tote from Ebay and totally love it xox

  5. This looks like a great list and I am readjusting my car kit after the snow storm that shut down Atlanta. I like the idea of a bucket- you could use it for a restroom if needed. Several people that got stranded talked about how they needed to go to the bathroom. Several people I know too had to walk for miles while in their dress shoes. I would always keep a pair of old tennis shoes in your car in case you have to walk a long distance. I would put everything in a backpack and then put it in the bucket. Several people I know had to walk for miles and I think it would be easier to carry everything in a backpack than in a bucket. This list is very thorough and can be a bit overwhelming. Think of what you need if you were to get stuck in your car for a night or two- food, emergency sleeping bag, water, flashlight then focus on the rest. Always try to keep your gas tank full. Many people ran out of gas.

  6. I would not use the HomeDepot Bucket! Use a white food grade bucket, you now have a bucket that water and food can be eaten without any problems the other plastics have.

    Also maybe use a Gamma Seal Lid.

  7. I would add Tampons to the kit….. they have a number of uses in the First aid kit…. they aren’t just for combating auntie flo but can stop a bleeding nose, puncture wound or many other things… just remember to man up and look past its a tampax

  8. Duct tape. The duct tape is very useful to stop bleeding’s, build a shelter and many others. You can put it around the bucket to save the space inside. Good article. Thanks!

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