Emergency Supplies: It’s all about the lids

Above you see one five gallon bucket transformed into a toilet, and another into a food storage container, by virtue of specialty lids.

The toilet seat lid I have here is called Luggable Loo Seat Cover and, miraculously, it is made in Canada. I bought it at REI.

The other lid is called a Gamma Seal, and it is USA made. Do I see a trend, here? Anyway, this I found at an Army surplus store. The Gamma Seal is a two part lid that fits most 3-7 gallon buckets. One part of the lid is an adapter ring that snaps on the rim bucket. (“Snaps” is a euphemism for “Fits on after straining, swearing, hammering and finally calling for the husband.” In the end, Erik held it down while I beat it–er–I mean, snapped it into place.)  The lid itself spins and seals with a gasket. This gives it a nice, bug and moisture proof seal for all sorts of storage needs, transforming your ordinary buckets into superbuckets.

The set up above is actually a birthday gift for a friend who’s expressed interest in being better prepared for emergencies. Especially as regards what we like to call “Toilet Freedom.” Okay, so a toilet doesn’t scream birthday–but you know, she’s used to us and our ways.

We’re giving her the black bucket and matching loo seat with a plastic bag full of wood shavings inside and a tp roll, so it’s ready to rock as a composting toilet. (For more on composting toilets, see this post of ours  or go straight to the source, The Humanure Handbook.)

The green bucket holds enough preservative-filled, ready-to-eat food to hold her for a day or two without access to cooking water or a stove. I deliberately chose foods that she wouldn’t be tempted to eat prior to the natural disaster/zombie attack. Not gross things–you don’t want to be challenging your stomach in an emergency–but kind of boring things, such as plain crunchy granola bars, as opposed to the tempting, chewy, chocolate-dipped variety. There’s also some raisins in there, pop-top tuna cans, applesauce cups and peanut butter crackers.

There’s plenty of room for her to add more, depending on what she wants to be prepared for. And there are so many types of emergencies to choose from! I mean really, where do we start? She might want to add some dehydrated stuff and drink mixes for situations in which she has plenty of water and a fire source. It’s nice to have hot food, even if it is packed with sodium. Or for longer emergencies, she might want to consider storing fast cooking dry goods, like white rice and lentils, and high calorie foods, like oil, peanut butter and honey.

Sealed buckets like this are also a good place to store other things you’ll need in an emergency, including medications, first aid kits, extra glasses and copies of important documents.

A few snacks in a five gallon bucket won’t feed a person forever, but it’s a start. It can make the difference between misery and comfort for the first day or two after a disaster. In disaster preparedness, don’t let the perfect get in the way of the good. Do what you can. Everything helps.

With these two buckets we’ve got food and sanitation covered. The third big category–and perhaps the most vital of all– is stored water, which our friend already has under control. For tips on water storage, see our recent post on water storage.

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  1. Gamma lids are great! They come in a half-dozen different colors, so I can tell what’s in a bucket just by the lid. I slip a note inside with the date I filled the bucket and line them up in chronological order in the food storage area.
    You’re right about the installation, though. I can do it by myself with a rubber mallet as long as I line the ring up on the bucket carefully beforehand, but the first one was challenging.
    By the way, if your local supplier only carries the white gamma lids and you’d like other colors, I buy them from Emergency Essentials (beprepared.com). I don’t know how their prices stack up to other suppliers, but they have great shipping rates – it really does pay to order a lot or combine orders with other people.

  2. I first discovered US Plastic Corp when I was looking for a plastic jerry can so I could switch to the Aussie-style, water-conserving, no-chill method of homebrewing. They have all manner of things from lab equipment to kitchen supplies.

    They have many colors of gamma seals, so you can color code your storage, or perhaps just go stylish with it.


  3. I have food-grade buckets that once held cake frosting. They have a rubber gasket in the lid. I wonder if they are resealed as tight as the gamma seals. At any rate, I cannot get them off once I get them back onto the bucket. I have always wondered what a gamma seal was!

    Friends give friends portable potties for birthday gifts…with no apologies…lol.

  4. I read this post and the one where you use a milk crate and attach legs to the milk crate. I saw the stained white bucket and now see the black one. If I am going to use a bucket, I would prefer white so that I can see if it is clean if I want to clean it. I would prefer a white seat also so that I can see stains left by dried dribbles or a mess smeared on the seat. People can be nasty and ill-mannered or just ill and cannot control their business. But, I suppose they don’t make white seats to fit a five gallon bucket.

    After the tornado, we had no contact with anyone in our own town, so I did not know if the widespread power outage would take the water treatment plant out. Within hours of the event, I had planned to take the toilet seat off the toilet and move a five gallon bucket into the bathroom.It would have been a balancing act…lol.

    Bill Farthing, Thanks for consoling me…lol. NOT.

  5. @Parsimony: As far as I know, Luggable Loo seats only come in black. Just for the record, the staining in that white bucket comes from cedar sawdust. I was pretty horrified that Erik posted that picture!

  6. You’ve probably posted it somewhere, but I’ll add a solar shower sure comes in handy when power is down. After the flooding here six years ago (NOLA), we came back to no electricity for about a month, no gas for almost three months. That shower helped us and a few neighbors. Bleach was necessary for water out of our tap too – naomi

  7. Is this a snap on toilet seat? And if it is, how do you empty the pail without making a mess of the seat?

  8. @Anon: Good point! A solar shower is a lovely thing. I’ve enjoyed them while camping, and they’d be a real life saver in a situation like the one you were in. No electricity for a month, no gas for three? Good lord, that’s rough.

  9. We love gamma lids here! We use the buckets mostly for grain storage—all of the various whole grains we use to mix our chx feed and goat snacks. They are goat proof, and not many things are!

  10. Now I know what to get my dad for Christmas (snap on toilet lid) and his birthday (gamma lid). Thanks!

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