A New Kind of Bucket List, by C.W.- Part 1

I rarely let a day go by without checking in to see what I can gather from reading the latest at survivalblog.com. Through reading this blog, I have gained valuable information and been motivated to do much in preparation for the inevitable difficulties ahead. In addition, I have felt encouraged to grow emotionally and spiritually. I truly am inspired and strengthened by the written contributions and the expertise of the editors. Thank you so very much!

Since you are now reading this website, you most likely fall into one of the following categories: a new visitor who just happened onto the site, a reader who is exploring the preparedness subject and how to get started, a person frustrated with the planning and organization of preparations, or a savvy person looking for ways to improve the status of their preparations and who enjoys keeping abreast of all this site has to offer.

No matter where you would place yourself among the given choices above, I would like to suggest that most of us are at some stage of preparedness because we feel an urgent need to be able to protect and provide for our family, friends, or neighbors should the need arise.

It’s been said a million times, and I’ll say it again; no one knows what our TEOTWAWKI will look like or when it will happen. It could be a world event, or it could be a personal event. However, if we are attempting to be ready for the unknown, our only choice is to be as diverse in our preparations as possible and continue to live with some degree of normalcy (whatever that may be).

A few months ago, I would most likely have placed myself in the “frustrated” category. The reasons for my frustration had to do with something that many of us deal with on a daily basis– the problems of organization. Now that I have come up with a plan and put it into action, my level of frustration has dropped considerably. So, I would like to share the following thoughts and ideas to help others who may be frustrated or want to make some improvements to their preparations and household in general.

A little history of my situation and you will know where I am going. I am a wife, mother, grandmother; I have a professional career, am upper-middle class, and…yep… I pretty much have had the “American dream” going for me. All the while, I was forming the extensive bucket list for the post-retirements days. However, shortly after entering my so-called retirement, I began to get strange vibes; the world was changing! It was no longer the safe place I had always come to expect. Instead of making plans for our next exciting trip, I was feeling more like staying closer to the farm…literally. I was no longer packing my bags for a journey to a new place. I was prompted to put on the brakes, put down the bags, and change my focus.

And so the new journey into an unknown territory began. I know there is quite a debate about the term “prepper” vs. “survivalist.” Well, everyone can determine what they want to call themselves. I simply prefer “prepper” and use that term in this article.

As a newbie in the prepper world, I was overwhelmed! I first began to make lists. I also purchased important items, read suggestions from JWR’s site, and then began acquiring new skills. After several years of all of this– learning to garden, preserving our own food, raising meat and laying chickens (never had them before), learning to shoot, and collecting vast amounts of “stuff”– I was feeling somewhat better about our situation. BUT it was the “stuff” that had me concerned…really concerned! Just because we had the “suggested stuff” didn’t mean that we were going to be able to find it, move it, store it, and so forth in a way that would help us when the time came that we needed it. I wanted a completely organized household! If I could achieve that, I would eliminate the wasted time looking for things and feel more secure about accessing the preps when they would be needed. I could also be confident that in a worst-case scenario, we could move our valued necessities quickly and easily.

With my new chores, I had discovered the lowly 5-gallon buckets were my new, go-to-convenience. I was using buckets to carry produce from the garden, buckets to carry chicken feed and water, buckets when weeding, and for much more. I used them every day for some kind of work. Additionally, of course, the family had put a considerable amount of dry food into buckets for long-term food storage. Then, I had an “aha-moment”! Why not expand upon the use of the buckets? I could use buckets to help me put order in my household and preparations.

Hmmmm. It was time for a new bucket list and MORE BUCKETS!

Thinking about the best ways to store, access, and move the preps if the time should arise, I again focused on making lists. Be sure to refer to JWR’s List of Lists. I first started with a list of “must-have” items related to such things as first-aid, food, shelter, sanitation, and self-protection to take out the door quickly in an emergency situation. From there, it was simply a matter of sorting, identifying, and storing in the right bucket and location. I literally went through the entire house, room by room, and gathered the contents of my buckets. Yes, I still use drawers and cupboards for everyday items, but now they are neat and uncluttered. This procedure also gave me an opportunity to eliminate the unneeded items. I donated good, usable items or threw away the junk.

Now, I keep a neat and tidy home AND I don’t have dozens of buckets stacked all about the house. No, this system allows me to place the buckets and preps in places that are not necessarily visible to others, yet they’re available at a moment’s notice. I have also discovered that the round, white 5-gallon plastic buckets with lids offer many advantages over other options, such as plastic tubs and cardboard boxes. Here are just a few advantages:

  1. Buckets won’t hold a vast amount of stuff, which is just the point I wanted to make. I am only able to carry so much. I found that while I cannot easily carry one 40 lb. bag of chicken feed, I am able to carry two buckets with 20 lbs. of feed in each quite easily.
  2. The buckets are easy to keep clean with a damp cloth and a little soapy water. Add a little bleach to the water if needed.
  3. You can use buckets with or without lids. I prefer the ones without lids for use when doing chores. The buckets with lids work great for storage.
  4. You can label the buckets and the contents anyway you wish. For storage, I prefer to attach large water-resistant labels. I also identify any bucket that is to be grabbed in an emergency or bug-out situation with a large, red X.
  5. Buckets are quite sturdy and will last for many years under a variety of situations. Heat and direct sunlight should be avoided, as they will cause more rapid deterioration. They are also not rodent-proof, if filled with food.
  6. Buckets are water-resistant…much more so than cardboard boxes.
  7. A large number of buckets will fit in a fairly small space. While there are variations in the dimensions of 5-gallon buckets, using buckets of like size allows you to gather a number of them in a small area.
  8. Buckets are stackable within reason, if using good judgment regarding weight and how they are secured. I have some buckets stacked four and five high using ratchet straps to secure them to the walls in case of an earthquake. They don’t crush or break down like cardboard boxes.
  9. The typical 5-gallon bucket has a sturdy metal handle for easy-to-grab convenience.
  10. The 5-gallon buckets come in food-grade quality, if desired. A gamma seal lid, while a bit more expensive, will keep contents air tight and dry. Oxygen absorbers and Mylar bags will assist in removing oxygen, which causes aging of food products.
  11. In this so-called “green world” we live in, the bucket passes the test. Yes, they are reusable over and over and over. As stated, avoid sunlight and extreme heat if possible. Never reuse buckets which have had any toxic or harsh chemical exposure.
  12. The cost is quite reasonable. I generally pay just under $3 for a bucket and $1.19 per lid at WalMart. As stated above, food grade buckets and gamma seal lids are higher priced. As an alternative, I have obtained free food grade buckets and lids from the bakery department at the grocery store. However, they are not always consistent in size.
  13. Using this system of organizing my preps and household, I have avoided the unplanned trip to the store. The old adage “Two is one, and one is none,” applies here. Just remember that if you use your back-up item, you will want to purchase another to have an extra “in the bucket”.

I cannot say there aren’t any disadvantages to using the buckets. The main disadvantage of the 5-gallon bucket may be the size. No, you cannot put large items inside the buckets. However, remember that the main idea of using the buckets is to capture and contain items in a useful, easy-to-access system. For example, I felt it was important to have a basic “outdoor kitchen” kit. I proceeded to gather the items I felt would be most valuable in a situation where we needed to leave home and yet had to prepare our food. These were also the same items that we would want to take when camping. I now have two buckets labeled “Outdoor Kitchen” for camping or a bug-out scenario. Each is marked with a large red X and stored where they can be accessed quickly in an emergency.