About 24 months ago, I made a change in the way my family bought and used Proverbs 25:26 groceries. Before that, we visited the grocery store almost every day and did not have enough food in the house to feed our family for a week. It was easy to see the price of food slowly creep up, even though the government was telling us there was no inflation. Then I saw “After Armageddon” on the History Channel, and it really scared me. I’m generally an optimist, but I also believe in being prepared for whatever may come. So, I immediately began to stockpile the foods that we used on a regular basis. I did all the things I could to prepare for local, regional, and national disasters. I planted a garden for the first time in 10 years, sold some firearms that were good for collecting but not self defense, and even bought reloading equipment and supplies to load up to 2,000 rounds for our pistol and rifle calibers. We canned our vegetables and the venison we killed during hunting season, all while teaching my college-age kids the how-to’s and why-to’s of living a prepared lifestyle and the peace of mind that comes with it. That’s the short version of my prepping career.
Then a series of severe storms, called a Derecho, hit the mid-Atlantic in late June of 2012, and we were without power for six and half days in unusually hot weather, with daytime temps ranging from 98 to 105 degrees Fahrenheit and with high humidity. This was a great test of my preparation, and I learned several lessons. The first being to take better care of my generator and to run/test it regularly. My big takeaway from that event was just how unprepared my friends and family were at living without electricity for any prolonged period of time. I saw first-hand what it was like for grocery stores and gas stations to not have power, thus cutting people off from their usual supply of food and fuel. Luckily for me, my elderly mother could travel two hours and stay with my sister.
Luckily for everyone in central Virginia, the suffering was short lived, and most survived relatively unscathed. I remember sitting by my Coleman cook stove early one morning, while the coffee perked, listening to my emergency radio about the status of the repairs to the power lines. I thought, “What if the power was not coming back on at all?” Most of my close friends and family did not and still do not prepare. They don’t even buy food in bulk at Sam’s or Costco. They resemble me 24 months ago, where the bulk of the “food” I kept in the house consisted of spices and the random bag of popcorn or tortilla chips. If the power was not coming back on, how would they survive? What would I say when they came to my door starving and looking for food? This is a situation I pray we never face.
I realized that morning that I honestly was not prepared to handle that situation at that point in my prepping career. I’ve heard some in the prepper community say, “Too bad they didn’t prepare; they can’t partake.” That’s easy to say now, but imagine a close relative or a family from your church standing at your door begging for something to eat or drink, or maybe they’re in need of medical care. As I considered how to expand my prepping efforts after the power was restored, I came to the conclusion that in addition to enlarging my preparations, I would also prep for others. That’s what this article is really about. So I began to consider:
- How to put together preps that I can give away to others, without risking the survival of my immediate family.
- How to have a mobile solution to meet the immediate survival needs of clean water, food, and medical care to give to a family in need.
- How to do this in a cost-efficient manner, as I’m not made of money.
My solution can be carried by one person, and while it would not feed a family of four for months on end, it would give them a base on which to survive and build. When planning its contents, I started with the survival pyramid, shelter, water, and food. Then I always throw in fire, because fire helps with the first three.
I started with using the two 5-gallon bucket water filter systems as a basis and then added a backpack. I have been using the two 5-bucket water filtration system for several years now at our hunt camp in the mountains. It works great, and its simple to make and assemble. The system works with two 5-gallon buckets with the tops installed stacked one on top of the other. A tap is placed in the lower bucket about a half an inch from the bottom edge of the bucket. Then a ceramic water filter is installed through a hole drilled in the bottom of the top bucket and a hole in the top of the lower bucket. Water from a creek, lake, or even a rain barrel is poured into the upper bucket and the water filters through the ceramic filter that is filled with active charcoal into the lower bucket. It takes several hours to filter five gallons, but we usually fill the top bucket at night and in the morning it is all filtered in the lower bucket, ready for use. You can even install multiple filters to increase the rate at which the water is filtered. The easiest way to drill the holes is to turn the top bucket upside down, then place a bucket top upside down as well on the bottom of the top bucket. Drill the appropriate sized holes through the bucket and bucket top at the same time and install the filter with the rubber grommet that comes with the filter. I have the buckets pre-drilled, but the tap and filter is not installed, and the holes are covered with duck tape to keep my food safe from pests. If I intended on burying them as an emergency cache, I would not recommend pre-drilling the buckets. In a worst case scenario, the holes could be made with the knife, which is included. The contents of my buckets are as follows:
First 5-Gallon Bucket
- Rice (15 lbs in Mylar Bag, sealed)
- Beans (15 lbs in Mylar Bag, sealed)
Second 5-Gallon Bucket
- (4) Canned Spaghetti Sauce (28oz)
- (4) Boxes of Spaghetti Noodles (1 lb boxes)
- (3) Canned Green Beans
- (5) Canned Chicken
- (12) Packs of Instant Oatmeal Vacuum Sealed
- (1) Jar of Instant coffee
- (1) Bottle of Barbeque Sauce (everything is good with Barbeque Sauce)
- (1) Seeds in zip-lock bags– Kale, Beets, Turnips, and other vegetables
0.0.1 Backpack/Daypack (like kids use for book bags)
- (2) 10′ x 16′ Tarps (2) 50′ ¼” Rope
- (1) Hatchet (1) Medical Kit
- (2) Grill Fire-starters
- (1) Folding Hunting Knife
- (1) Fishing Kit
- (1) Ceramic Water Filter (I buy on Amazon)
- (1) Plastic Water Tap ( I buy on Amazon)
- Instructions on how to make and assemble the water filtration buckets
What the buckets and backpack really represent is an entry level survival kit, with options to provide for shelter, water, food, and the replacement of water and food. My survival bucket system can also fill other needs. With the additional of a third bucket, one could store the backpack in the third bucket and cache these supplies in a remote location. If you buy the bucket tops with the rubber seal, they could even be buried underground. My family travels every Thanksgiving holiday to visit family, and even though it would be a little tight, I’m sure I can find room in the car for three buckets as a portable/get home survival kit. I always assume the worst will happen when I’m away from home and all my supplies.
I also decided to store these near my basement exit, as part of my bug out gear. Ever the optimist, I struggle to truly foresee many scenarios where I would have to bug out and have to leave the safety of my house in huge hurry. With this being said I have prepared specifics supplies that I could load in a matter of 15 minutes and be on the road in my truck with all the food, gear, and fuel I would need to survive. The portability of these buckets and the flexibility in how you use them, make them a great addition to my preps.
Thinking about the most extreme scenario, what would you do if your preps or your food stores were somehow compromised or confiscated? I decided to locate some of these buckets in my garage labeled as “Paint”, so hopefully they would be ignored. I don’t think looters or civil authorities will be looking for paint during a SHTF scenario. These are just a few of the ways I have thought to use these survival buckets. I’m sure other people in different situations can come up with even more creative ways and add to the contents to make them even more valuable in a time of crisis.
As you can see, I am assuming people that I would be giving these to in an emergency situation would be able to come up with some basic items to assist with their survival, like pots and other necessities, if they simply look around their home.
That’s where the real rub comes in. Do people, who chose not to prepare and not to live a sustainable prepared lifestyle, have the knowledge to do for themselves? Even beyond that, do they have the determination and grit to survive? My first guess is, “No”. Independence has been educated out of Americans these days. Knowledge, skills, and the determination to survive are not things that we can include in a bucket and give to someone. However, I know that I will rest better knowing I did my Christian duty trying to help those in need.