On a bright and crisp Fall day, my family and I were out playing football at my niece’s house. The grill was going, sweatshirts and jeans were getting grass stains, and we were all having a great time. Then, one pass later, I was caught unprepared.
Silas, my oldest son who was probably around 8 or 10 at the time, caught a pass – or at least tried to. It bounced off his finger and caught him right in his cheek. In what seemed like the blink of an eye, his face puffed up with the size and roundness of a golf ball. It was scary to see how swollen his eye got so fast. I could literally see it getting bigger before my eyes. We ran in to get some ice to put on it and monitored to see if we needed to rush to the hospital.
I began to wonder what would happen if we were out on a hike and something like this happened. What if we were out and didn’t have access to ice or a pack to stop bleeding or any number of other materials that we could need? I started my emergency bucket after that.
I have several emergency buckets with medical supplies placed where we might need to get to them. These are red five gallon buckets with gamma lids that are easy to get into, hold a lot, are easily identifiable, and are tough enough to be bouncing around and transported all over the country but be ready at a moment’s notice. The gamma lids are critical for this application so you aren’t messing around with a troublesome lid when someone is hurt.
I have a bucket just outside our kitchen which serves as our home-bound bucket. We’ve got supplies in our bathroom and other places you might suspect, but we’ve found that even in the house, the bucket approach really works. When a kid starts crying that cry – that cry you know is different and that only a parent knows truly means something is wrong – we go to him and her. From there, we dispatch another kid to go get the bucket and bring it to the kid. That way we don’t have to transport the hurt kid to the supplies and we also don’t have to ask for specific things – just grabbing the bucket is something anybody can handle.
I also have one in our bus and my car. We’ve used them quite often while around town, camping, or hiking. Living in a climate with four seasons, the materials go through freezes and very hot temperatures. I choose to keep the buckets in the vehicles through the weather instead of bringing them in as I know I will end up not having it the time I need it most if I rely on bringing them back and forth.
I have lots of five gallon buckets in my life – a post for another time – but only use red buckets for this purpose so everybody can know exactly which are which. I also snagged a couple first aid stickers to put on them specifically in case somebody who isn’t familiar with my routine needs care.
Finally, before we dive into the contents of the buckets, I pack the items strategically. The things that could potentially mean the difference between life or death are at the top of the bucket easily accessible. Things that are nice to have but not urgent are down at the bottom of the bucket.
Here’s what we’ve got now roughly in packing order of the bucket from top to bottom:
- Bleedstop packs
- Cold packs
- Butterfly bandages
- Bandaids of various sizes
- Steri strips
- CPR masks
- Mylar rescue blankets
- Medical tape of a couple sizes
- Collection of over the counter medicine and ointments
- Caffeine pills
- Finger covers and splints
- Para cord
- Burn Gel
- Snakebite kit
- Bug Spray
- Calamine lotion
- Fire starting supplies
- Duct tape
- Toilet paper
- First Aid and CPR instruction cheat sheet
- Super glue
- Chap stick
- Safety pins
The vast majority of the time we grab the bucket is for a laceration of moderate size. So we open the bucket, grab the band-aids or butterfly bandages, some gauze, and maybe some scissors. Other times, we grab the cold compress and some stretchy gauze and other times we are just out and about and need the sunscreen as it turned out to be a brighter day than we expected. But everyone in our family knows where our supplies are and how to get them. That enables us to be prepared for the worst but still go out and have some fun!