What would you pack in an emergency?

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By Melissa Wheeler

What would you pack in an emergency? Give yourself 30 minutes to be packed and gone from your home.

I know the answer to this question is best answered when the emergency is known, but that is the tricky thing about emergencies – they don’t alert you in advance to prepare.

My family faced this scenario last week. I had just dropped my son off at Kindergarten and was returning home with groceries when my husband sent me a text message.

“The bathroom is torn out and there is exposed black mold all over.” Which meant there was no toilet for me to use and we couldn’t enter our home without a special mask. The kids had no problem peeing on our trees, but I was not okay with that.

We had one breathing mask and a limited amount of time (as long as the kids could be patient) to pack a couple suitcases for a short stay with family. We have an awesome landlord and plummer who worked hard to get us home as quick as possible. But even with their best efforts, we were living off the charity of family and friends for eight days.

Did I pack enough clothes? No way. And it happened to snow, so we didn’t have the right clothes either. I forgot socks, so that was lame. But my sister-in-law was nice and gave me some.

Snow street scenes

These are some things I’ve learned from this experience:

Have a camping toilet on hand for emergencies

It would have been nice to have this, especially if we didn’t live near a gas station. I’ve seen several ideas on pinterest and will probably be making one just in case something like this happens again.

Keeping an overnight toiletry bag stocked for each member of the family

I mentioned we forgot socks, but we remembered everyone’s toothbrushes, toothpaste, and shampoo. This was thanks to our overnight bags being ready to go from our last trip. It wasn’t on purpose, but it sure worked out great. I will add a few items – like lotion, perfume samples, tweezers and extra deodorant, toothbrushes, face soap.

Store important medications in a bag

I have a couple medications that I would have been in trouble without. Luckily, I already store them in a bag, so it was a quick grab. I appreciated not adding to the stress of the situation by having them ready to go.

Packing for trips to visit family is good practice

We knew what to grab for the kids because we go visit family in Utah every couple months. Turns out that was all good practice for leaving the house quickly in an emergency.

Store important phone numbers in your phone

I had to call Soren’s school and explain the situation, as well as call my Vet for Leo’s vaccination history so he could stay at a kennel. All that was made easier because it was programmed in my phone. Other important numbers would be the family doctor, landlord, neighbors, church leaders, etc.

Know where your family and pets would go in an emergency

When we first realized we were without a home for the next several days, the most stressful part was figuring out where to go. I know family is always welcoming, but for some reason it took us a little bit to figure this out. And then we had no idea what to do with Leo. Now that we’ve been through it, we know.

Pack for longer than you think

We thought it would be four days, but then it was 8. I did a bunch of laundry, which is fine, but it would have been nice to have a few extra pairs of socks and underwear.


Even if the weather is sunny and you like to wear your slip on flats and Birkenstocks. Not packing socks is jinxing the weather to freeze and snow.

 That is what I learned from this experience. Now I would love to hear what others have learned from their own personal and family emergencies. Please leave a comment and share. 


Author: KFB Staff

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1 comment on “What would you pack in an emergency?

  1. stephanie
    / Reply

    That’s awful, Melissa! I’m glad it’s over! This is a good reminder for me as the winter approaches.

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