Coat Closet Becomes Emergency Evacuation Closet

We live close to the mountains where fires and mudslides can occur. After the recent fire in Draper, Utah, I made some emergency changes in our home. If a disaster strikes, I may not be home and I want my kids to have easy access to food and water, and emergency supplies. I moved coats out of the coat closet, and emergency supplies in. Before, I had these items in our Utah basement. But what if an earthquake or flood occurs? Did I really want kids (or me) running downstairs, and then trying to get out? After talking to several people who have actually lived through evacuations, easy access to emergency supplies makes more sense. Believe me. You don’t want to run through your house looking for everything. The time to prepare for the disaster is before it strikes.

AN EMERGENCY PLAN (practice every 6 months, General Conference) – Every family needs to create an emergency plan with the thought that Mom or Dad may not be home when disaster strikes. Such as: In a smaller emergency, the kids will go to a neighbor’s house for help. If my teen son has to drive to evacuate, they will go to their aunt’s house in a neighboring town. If they have to go on foot, they will probably follow neighbors to the local school or church. Each teen needs phone numbers to a relative living in state, and one out of state. If cell phone lines are jammed, at least they have a contact number they can call, and you can also call. Eventually you will get connected. Post this plan on the wall, since people forget.
PORTABLE RADIO – It’s important to have an AM radio with spare batteries to listen to local radio reports when disaster threatens. Your power may be out. I wrote the local emergency radio station channel on the radio with permanent marker. Then, I put it in a baggie with the batteries, and hung it on the edge of the closet shelf.
FIRE EXTINGUISHER – You can mount on a wall or stand on a shelf in the same area.
BEDDING – Consider storing your blankets or sleeping bags near emergency packs. I placed some of our blankets on the top shelf.
PORTABLE SAFE – The other day, a friend told me that a relative had to leave her home after an earthquake in China. She ran outside, and couldn’t go back in. She had no ID! So, a small safe or a portable file box such as the one from which can hold important documents and CD’s with family photo’s is a good idea to grab and go.
Include: emergency cash ($10’s, $5’s, $1’s), home mortgage, insurance policies, home inventory, marriage certificate, birth certificates, immunization records, family medical history, driver’s license copy, passports, social security #’s of kids, automobile ownership, wills & other legal documents, bank account #’s, credit card companies & account #’s, etc.
EMERGENCY BACKPACKS – Each family member should have an emergency backpack. Least expensive time to buy a backpack is the end of September during the school clearances. Items in the emergency packs should be updated yearly, as clothing sizes and needs change, and food can be rotated. I looked in my 3 year-old’s backpack the other day, and found diapers, a baby blanket, etc. Items she doesn’t even use anymore! Time to update. An easy way to remember when to update is every October General Conference or perhaps around somone’s birthday.
Items should be stored in Ziploc baggies to protect them from moisture.

  • emergency rain poncho, thermal reflective blanket
  • pad of paper and pen, small games for kids
  • medical & dust mask, comb, toothpaste, travel toothbrush, antibacterial hand wipes, pocket tissues, lip balm
  • travel sized: liquid body soap, shampoo/conditioner, deodorant, lotion (this travel kit comes with all of the above)
  • toilet paper roll in Ziploc
  • Clothing includes shoes, socks, undergarments, sweat pants, long-sleeved-shirt, and sweat jacket. If an emergency happens in the summer, you can cut pants into shorts and cut off the long-sleeves. Buy at WalMart, K-Mart, or a used clothing store in a larger size than kids actually wear. Since this is a coat closet, we store our running shoes here all the time.
  • Food Packs – (store what your family will eat)
    6 – 16.9 oz. bottles of water, enamel camp cup, 3 plastic spoons, 3 antibacterial hand wipes, 3 instant oatmeal packets, 3 packets hot cocoa, 2 Lowry’s beef jerky, 2 granola bar, 2 Trail Mix bars, 2 Handi Snacks crackers ‘n cheez, 2 fruit snacks, 1 package gum, 10 pieces of hard candy, 3 Del Monte fruit cups 4 oz., 3 Chef Boyarde Ravioli or Lasagna 7.5 oz. mini

FAMILY EMERGENCY BUCKET – A 5 gal bucket w/lid (can be used as seat, or toilet), First Aid Kit, Flashlight with batteries in a Ziploc, Portable Radio with batteries in a Ziploc, 40 Coleman Waterproof matches, 50 Potable Aqua Water purification tablets, Can opener, Winchester 12-Function Army Knife, Rope, coil of 50 ft., Duct tape, Work gloves, 3 – large trash bags & 3 – 13 gal. plastic garbage bags (line the bucket for a toilet), wick chafing fuel, Map of city and vicinity, Disaster tips handouts, American Red Cross brochures
EMERGENCY PET BACKPACK (update every 6 months) – Each pet needs an emergency pack: Water, pet food, leash, collars with identification tags, medications, vaccine information, plastic bags for poop, name and number of veterinarian, toys
IDEAS FOR INFANT EMERGENCY PACK (update every 3 months) – water, food, juices, formula, bottles, pacifier, diapers, wipes, baby soap and baby powder, change of clothing including gloves, jacket, shoes, blankets, towel, medications, toys

You can find ideas for an Emergency kit at
Or our local Emergency Preparedness at

3 thoughts

  1. Our family has an awful lot of coats… But we also have a great coat closet right by the door. I love the idea of making sure to have everything easily accessible. Thanks so much for the tip! Also, using conference as a reminder – Gold.

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