Now that I have explained the advantages and disadvantages of using a bucket system for storing preparations, allow me to share a few other ideas that may also be of interest, should you decide to attack your household with buckets.
I believe that families who have homes that are kept clean and organized will be much better prepared for whatever comes at them. We all know friends or relatives who have lots of stuff (a.k.a. chaos), yet they have little idea of how to find an item when they want it or need it. So, off they go to the store to buy another one. Can you imagine how they will react in an emergency?
The following ideas may help you and your family to keep your home more organized and easy to clean:
I had stored up a number of packages of laundry soap– the individual, 55-60 use count variety. I simply opened each package and dumped all of the individual packs into a bucket. I can get twice as many into a bucket that way. They are dry and stored for future use.
Young boys can fill buckets to their heart’s content with small toys–matchbox cars, blocks, Legos, Lincoln Logs, action figures, military fare, games, sports paraphernalia, and collections of all kinds. Young girls will also find that buckets are a useful way to store their favorite dolls with accessories, games, dress-up or costume items, stuffed animals, and more. If desired, the girls and moms can put skirts on the buckets and pad the lids. They become extra seating and storage with a decorative touch.
By the way, if anyone is concerned about the fact that I assigned certain types of items under certain genders, well, get over it; the kids can decide what they want in their buckets. Just give them the buckets, and let them do the sorting.
Now this is where you can really avoid conflict. These kids have so much on their minds at this time in their life. Whether they attend public or private schools or are homeschooled, you can give them a super advantage by introducing them to this organizational idea. These buckets will show them how to organize their things and keep them organized. They can fill them with extra school supplies, sports gear, books, memorabilia, et cetera. They may even toss a few dirty socks or a sports bra in a laundry bucket. For a small investment in buckets, who wouldn’t love to help their teenagers find a way to keep their room tidy and avoid the hassles?
These kids can also use a helping hand. Dorm rooms and apartments are generally pretty short on space, AND often the kids are sharing this same space with a roommate. In addition, they are moving frequently. Buckets are great for “grab-n-go”, whether it is returning home for a weekend, summer break, or moving to new digs.
In addition, you can help in another way. Those of us who know the value of preparing for uncertain times find it troubling when our college students go off to school with no preps to sustain them in an emergency situation. Even the basics are hard to come by at times. By sending a bucket filled with non-perishable food and bottled water, they will have something to fall back on if needed and can easily be taken with them in an evacuation type of event. Another bucket could provide a good flashlight with batteries, a can opener, a multi-tool and/or basic hand tools, first-aid kit, mini-survival kit, work gloves, and whatever else you deem helpful. The kids deserve a fighting chance whether they are in lock-down mode, forced to evacuate, or simply enduring finals week. If they have a vehicle with them, help them build a get-home-bucket with maps and emergency-useful items. I know most campuses restrict the types of self-protection the kids can possess. Help them come up with some alternatives for self-defense.
Buckets are truly wonderful when transporting gear to and from the campsite. Also, when you get there it is so simple to set up camp. If the camping essentials are stored in buckets, it is a case of grab-and go, with less chance of forgetting needed items. As stated earlier, I have buckets labeled “outdoor kitchen”, which contain most anything a cook could want or need while camping. A “sanitation” bucket keeps all the toilet paper, hand soap, paper toweling, garbage bags, clothesline and clothespins, et cetera at the ready. Give each kid a bucket to store their favorite toys or games for rainy day time. Have the kids pack their clothes in a bucket. Use buckets for carrying food items and snacks for the trip. Bring wet swimwear or dirty shoes/boots home in a bucket. They keep a campsite neat and help avoid leaving things behind. They are also easy to clean when you get them back home. Just be sure to replace used up items before storing the buckets away for the next camping adventure.
I have already touched on several ideas in the camping section that would also work when doing a road trip, but here are a few other ideas. Are you taking your pet? Use a bucket for pet supplies and pet food. Hey, when you are settling into your hotel room or campsite after a long day of travel, would you like to mix a drink? Build a mini-bar with a couple of your favorite bottles of alcohol, tonic water, a shot glass, bar glasses, bar towel, and other special touches. Take a “beach bucket” with your sunscreen, bug spray, beach towels, and toys. Label each bucket, and make it easy to travel in style!
During gardening season, I use buckets for hauling and storing everything. However, at the end of the season, it is also nice to be able to clean up your small tools, gloves, small seed pots, and other items to store them. Just make sure everything is nice and dry before putting on the lid. Come spring you will be ready to get out the buckets and begin anew.
Have you ever had your grandchildren arrive for a visit, only to hear “I’m bored” or “there is nothing to do”? Well, have a surprise waiting for them! Make up a few buckets to keep them happy and content. Fill one bucket with arts and craft supplies and another with cards and games, such as checkers. These can be made to suit the age(s) of the children and their interests. When they are finished or going home, clean-up is easy! The fun buckets can also be taken along when traveling or camping.
We all know how important it is to have a collection of tools and gear that we can use when traveling to/from work or traveling for pleasure. I made the choice to place my get-home-items in buckets. Not only can you keep these emergency items organized, but easy to access when time could be of the essence. If need be, the buckets can be emptied and lined with a garbage bag for use when someone gets sick or for an emergency toilet. You can also use them to haul water. A bucket can be used to protect your car from messy items, if the need should arise, and as mentioned earlier, I can carry two 20 lb. buckets versus one 40 lb. duffle bag.
Have you looked in your garage or the workshop lately only to turn away with a sigh? Yes, you know you should get it cleaned up and organized, but the idea just seems so daunting. Well, head to the store and purchase a few buckets to get you started. Just think how neat your special area will look when everything is tucked away neatly inside labeled buckets and placed on shelves built by you or purchased for the purpose.
At Christmas or a birthday of someone special, you may want to make gift-giving a little easier. Make it so much easier by buying a bucket and filling it with items you feel would be appropriate for the one on the receiving end. Putting a bucket together is fun and could be a lifesaver for someone on your list. You don’t have to make a big deal out of the fact that the bucket filled with useful items is in preparation for TEOTWAWKI. Call it a “care package” or “a kit”. I am pretty sure the college kid on your list would love to get a bucket of non-perishable foods (including snacks) to take back to school, saving them a midnight-run to the vending machine. Also, what about good old Uncle Harry? He’d love to get a “traveling mini-bar” in a bucket. Your wife or husband will be safer and thankful if their car should break down. In some cases, you may want to add important instructions (laminated, if you like) placed inside the bucket. You can build a bucket for absolutely anyone on your list.
One word of caution! You will notice that each bucket usually has a warning sticker cautioning against the possibility of a small child drowning should he/she fall into a bucket filled with water. Please use caution. I generally remove these stickers for a cleaner look and easier to read content labels.
My son is a firefighter and has assisted with removal of items from burning homes when possible. He has mentioned that plastic tubs filled with family photos or memorabilia can sometimes be saved from fire and water damage. However, it is my opinion that the lids on tubs are not always secure and that some tubs are quite large, making them difficult to carry. Wouldn’t the five-gallon buckets with handles be easier to grab?
Also, the lids on buckets may not be completely water tight, but they are usually difficult to remove unless you have the specific tool to do it. Be sure to get one.
Buckets work quite well when boating. If the buckets should go overboard or the boat should go down, the buckets will generally float for a period of time and can be retrieved without too much trouble.
Just in case you have been wondering, I have no financial gain in recommending the 5-gallon bucket.
In conclusion, I would just like to say that every family needs to decide how they want to prepare and manage their preparations and/or household. Organization plays a major role in being better prepared in our daily lives and for the difficult times we are facing. For me, the buckets work for a number of reasons. I truly wish I had come up with this idea years ago, even prior to the onset of my “prepping” days. As a busy wife, mother, and teacher I could have used buckets in untold numbers of ways. It is a system that is easy to use and helps people of all ages with organizational needs. It isn’t an expensive system, given the fact that you can start out one bucket and lid at a time. Give each bucket a label, and fill it with items of importance or items for fun. Then tuck them away under furniture, along the side of a closet, behind the sofa, in a vehicle, or in your storage area.
Now that’s my new version of a bucket-list!