Joyful Downsizing: How to Organize for an Emergency

Kim Kubsch

Learn exactly what to pack juuust in case of an unexpected natural disaster, a significant weather event, or if you or your loved one goes to the hospital.

When preparing your household and vehicle emergency kit, choose a container like a backpack, duffel bag, or even a large plastic bag. The container should be sturdy, lightweight, and preferably waterproof.

Before you start packing your bags and/or kits, set up a calendar reminder system to check your items twice a year to be sure nothing has expired. Consider doing it on the first day of spring and fall.

To organize a household emergency kit, consider your family’s need for high-energy snacks, grains, and canned food. Also, consider nut butter, jerky, cans of pop-top soup, and trail mix. Plan one gallon of water per person per day—water is the liquid of life.

Hand-cranked flashlights and radios are better than those using batteries. If you only have a flashlight using batteries, pack extra batteries. A whistle to signal for help, multi-function pocket knife including can opener and scissors. Cell phone chargers and cords, plus a sleeping bag and emergency blanket.

Travel toothpaste, soap, deodorant, and shampoo, plus baby wipes and hand sanitizer. First aid kits should include a 7- to 10-day supply of any over-the-counter and prescription meds. Don’t forget the antidiarrheal medication and eyedrops.

Dust masks, moist towelettes, and plastic bags for hygiene sanitation are a good idea.

Cash in small denominations is critical, since ATM machines will not be operational in some emergencies. Important documents should be in a waterproof pouch.

To prepare a vehicle emergency kit, include all the above items in the household kit, plus jumper cables, a window hammer, spare tire, and a basic tool kit with Phillips- and regular-head screwdrivers, socket and open-end wrenches, pliers, and electrical wire tape. Flares, help sign, and gloves and rags should also be added to the Vehicle Emergency Kit.

If you live in a cold climate, add cat litter or sand for extra traction, shovel, ice scraper/brush, antifreeze, and extra gloves. Foam tire sealant for small holes can also help in a pinch. A map book is helpful if GPS is not available

If you feel a hospital emergency kit is a wise idea, add your doctor list, prescription list, and Advance Medical Directives to include Medical Power of Attorney (POA).

Should you encounter an emergency of any sort where you end up staying with friends or family or at a relief center, these pre-prepared emergency kits will help ease your worried mind and manage stress levels. According to the CDC, don’t be like nearly half of Americans who don’t have a stash of supplies like those mentioned above.

To propel your downsizing efforts prior to your transition, contact me for a free 30-minute consultation. Contact me at 480-720-8566 or [email protected].

Check back monthly for more ideas about organizing, decluttering, and downsizing! Visit to order my book, Getting Your Life Together Organizer. The book is Available in printed paperback or downloadable and editable eBook.