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Preparing a Home Emergency Closet & Being Organized

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Preparing a Home Emergency Closet & How Being Organized Could Save Your Life @ AVirtuousWoman.org

You can read the rest of the Family Emergency Preparedness Series here.

Family Emergency Preparedness Series

Part of being prepared for emergencies is knowing where your stuff is when you need it.

Years ago, when my youngest child Laura, was about 18 months old, just learning to toddle around the house, we used to keep our basement/family room door locked so that she couldn’t open the door and tumble down the stairs.

One night, while we were all sleeping, a terrible storm came up. Lighting flashed and thunder boomed. My husband and I woke up and jumped out of bed, very concerned. The wind was howling. And then the power went out.  That’s when we heard what sounded like a train. My husband threw open the window to look out and that sound. It was terrifying. We were sure a tornado was coming.

Laura and Hannah {who was about 4 at the time} were both asleep in our room. The three older kids were asleep upstairs in their rooms. I had been asleep in a t-shirt and my underwear. And all I could think was, if a tornado came and hit our house, I didn’t want the rescue workers to find me in my underwear!

I grabbed the baby, Mykal grabbed Hannah and rushed to wake up the older children. In the dark, I opened my drawers to grab some pants and ran to the basement door – which of course, was locked. I knew the key was on top of the clock – where the kids couldn’t reach it, so I grabbed the key. {We have a couple dozen old fashioned skeleton type keys for all of the doors in our house – and none  of the match.}

Anyway, I grabbed the key, holding the baby and my pants, while Mykal roused the kids and told them to all go into the basement. It was dark, I had no lights, and trying to get that key into the little key hole while my heart pounded as loud as the thunder outside was so stressful, but I did it. All seven of us carefully made our way down into the basement where it was even darker.

I promptly put on my pants on and we huddled under blankets on the sofa with the kids until the storm passed, in the dark, but safe and sound. All of the above happened very quickly – not more than a couple of minutes!

There was a small tornado in the area – not much was damaged and thankfully our home was just fine and the power came back on eventually.

I was not prepared. I’m very thankful that nothing more serious happened that night.

  • First of all, I shouldn’t have been worried about my pants. But, I wouldn’t have worried if I’d been sleeping in my pajamas.
  • Secondly, if I’d had a flashlight by my bed, I could have gotten the basement door open faster.
  • Thirdly, I should have had a stash of candles and matches in the family room where I could easily find them instead of only having my candles stored upstairs in the dining room cupboard.

We weren’t expecting a bad storm that night – and my husband and I try to stay on top of the weather. And that’s the thing about emergencies – many times they are unexpected!

[Tweet “That’s the things about emergencies – many times they’re unexpected! Prepare now:”]

So, regardless of whether you are expecting the crisis that comes or not, having your home organized with emergencies in mind will go a long way to helping your family stay safe during an emergency.

Here are several things you can do to keep your family prepared. 

Create a Home Emergency Closet

In our house, we store food and other supplies in various places. But I also have a place in our coat closet by the front door that houses our Grab and Go Bags, camping gear, and other emergency supplies.

[Tweet “Create a Home Emergency Closet or Shelf near an exit in case of an emergency.”]

You should have a stash of emergency supplies – especially your Grab and Go Bags by an exit and easily accessible so that in the event of an emergency where you need to vacate the house, you know exactly where to find all of your stuff and quickly. The garage, mud room, or a coat closet are good places to store these types of items.

It’s also a good idea to have supplies stashed in different places around your home where you might need them. For instance, if your home has  a basement where you would go during a bad storm {or perhaps a closet under the stairs}, find a place to keep emergency supplies like candles and matches, water, blankets, snacks, a game of UNO, etc.

[Tweet “Being organized could save your life. #preparedness #FamilyEmergencyPreparedness”]

Being Organized

Being organized could save your life.

  • If you own matches, but can’t find them – how will they help you?
  • If you have emergency blankets, but you stuck them in a drawer instead of your glove box – how will you stay warm if your car breaks down in the middle of nowhere during a winter storm?

Being organized can also prevent a lot of unnecessary stress in times of crisis.

  • If your power goes out for several days {it’s happened to me} or weeks {it’s happened in my state} and most of your family’s clothing was sitting in the laundry room unwashed – you’ll be faced with hand washing clothes, and perhaps even wasting water that you could have used for food preparation or hydration.
  • Keeping your cell phone charged or almost fully charged as much as possible could save your life. If you are in an emergency situation and your battery power is low, keep it turned off except for when you especially need it.
  • Knowing where a pair of sturdy shoes is located is important. Teach your children and other family members to keep a good pair of shoes beside their bed at night. You may want to keep a pair of comfortable, sturdy shoes for each family member in your Home Emergency Closet as well.

What To Do

[Tweet “Choose strategic places in your home to store emergency supplies.”]

Choose strategic places in your home to store emergency supplies. And then set goals to get your home, laundry, and life organized if you have not already.

How are you preparing your home and family for emergencies or disasters?

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  1. Melissa, I really enjoyed reading this. Like you I am a person who is always prepared for sometime or place or incident that can occur. We live in TN which is also a place where the weather changes in an instant. We live in a one level home here and have been preparing for emergencies forever as we are originally from NJ. I like to keep a flashlight in every room and a lantern (battery powered) by the backdoor. We have emergency blankets for the vehicles as well as our go bags. Food in our home is mostly being turned into a dehydrated rationing plan for the times when the power does go out. Food can quickly be returned to its original form and eaten without worrying about consuming MRE"S or other commercially prepared rations which contain far more chemicals than I can even imagine eating. Water for drinking and cleaning and cooking is stored in several places according to the need. As you and I well know the best way to survive is to be prepared for anything. When we think the power is going out we put on candles and lo and behold, we never seem to lose it for too long if even at all. Folks also need to make sure they have plans for their animals and pets. Food, water, leashes, collars, halters etc., along with water are crucial to helping them in an emergency. Glad to read your blog and glad to know that we are on the same page. Have a blessed day. Nancy
    1. Hi Nancy, so glad you stopped by today! I love hearing how other folks are planning and preparing their homes and families for emergencies. Sounds like you know what you're doing! I'll be talking about pets during the series coming up. Thanks for your thoughts and suggestions!
  2. I loved this article. I am totally prepared for most situations. Most people however, are not prepared. Thanks for sharing ! Love your site! Ottawa, Canada
  3. Good article and info. We are missionaries in the Caribbean but still have our bug out bags ready. Not a lot of pre-prepping we can do here but I am always mindful of clothing! (LOL regarding your predictament!). On furlough, we also take precautions especially in tornado states!
  4. Melissa, Thank you so much for this post! I am an organized person but often wonder exactly how I should be organizing what we have for emergencies. I have it here and there throughout the house but not really in any sort of order. This will help me get more organized! Faith
  5. These are great tips! We recently moved to the gulf coast area where we really will need to be prepared for a disaster. We would only have room for a small closet of items- thanks for the information and inspiration to get off my booty and get prepared!
  6. Melissa, These are some great ideas and an awesome blog. I never thought about emergency go bags by the door but I will work them this weekend. Thanks for the great information. -Erica
  7. Great ideas! I keep a transistor radio (yes, they still exist) along with a hand-crank flashlight in our safe room. Recently, we added our bike helmets as a safety precaution. Living in tornado alley makes you think of odd things. And don't forget any prescription medications you may also need!
  8. Hello Melissa,n I love this article! Recently, I'v begun working on a prepping plan, food inventory, BOB, Safety and Protection plan(s) for my family. There is just so much information and resources available it is overwhelming! Your story is so inspiring and gives me hope that I WILL get everything organized and eventually have what we need to survive. Our front closet is going to become my command storage center! Thank you! Linda
  9. Thank you so much for this article. We try to keep prepared for emergencies around here as well. We live right in the middle of Tornado Alley (Missouri) so we know just how fast those storms can pop up out of no where. After reading your article I realized while I have 90% of what we will need for an emergency its been scattered all over our house. Today we have gloomy rainy weather and I realized if an emergency popped up we wouldn't have all of our supplies. So in a few minutes the kids and I will go through the house collecting our emergency supplies and getting them organized and where they need to be. You never know when Mother Nature will rear her ugly side. Thanks a gain!
  10. I'm somewhat prepared, food, water, etc. Looking for more ways to store more water, food and get bags set up for me my parents and pets.
  11. Grab n Go bags are always a great idea, even if all you have to "go" is to the basement. You are absolutely right, having a house full of children means you have to be that much more organized and prepared. Great post, thanks for sharing.
  12. Nothing is scarier than being responsible for others during an emergency. You are absolutely right, being organized is just one less thing you have to worry about. Thanks for the tips!
  13. I love this article!! Some great advice!! I just made a emergency preparedness binder on apinchoffaith.com and I wish I had thought of these good ideas. (Although tornadoes are not at the top of my list in Vermont!!) I will be implementing the shoe idea very soon though!!

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