Preparedness Tips from Erin

Here’s a follow-up blurb from Erin after last week’s FABULOUS safety fair!

Thank you for letting me share about preparing for an emergency at MOPS today! I got a lot of great feedback but wanted to make sure you all had some take-aways and a place to turn if you have questions.

First of all, I’m usually a bury my head in the sand disaster won’t hit us kind of girl. My husband is not. It’s taken 5 years to get to the point we are at and I do not want any mom to walk away thinking that it has to be an all or nothing proposition. So, let me break it down for you.


Get a pre-packed backpack with supplies. Add a couple of things of water, an extra pair of shoes, a couple blankets and maybe a change of clothes for everyone and done! You’ve got a car kit ready to go.

If you want more, check out lists online:

  • FEMA
  • American Red Cross
  • SOS Supplies in Van Nuys
  • Centers for Disease Control

My kit does take space in the trunk but I’m a mom and I like to be prepared – over prepared really!


Pack a pair of tennis shoes, a jacket, some extra water and some food in your place of work in case you are stuck longer than you’d like to be or have to get out.


Five years ago, we bought two pre-packed backpacks and hung them in the hall closet and called it emergency ready! Little by little we’ve added to it

KEYS ARE: Food, Water and Shelter. Then there are the extras. 

If you have camping gear – tents, sleeping bags, outdoor blankets, utensils, pull all of those together and place them in an easy to reach location. If you don’t have camping gear, get a tarp and some rope and you can make shelter.

Next, pull together CLOTHES that fit or are big for everyone and put together a box. Each year we clean out our closets and I take tennis shoes, pants, shorts, tshirt and sweatshirt and put them in the box. Then I take out the old stuff and donate or recycle that stuff. It’s more likely to fit and may last a little longer. If I ever see clearance clothes for cheap in a bigger size I buy a couple cheap (think $1-2) and put that stuff in so my kids are covered too.

For FOOD, we have the food bars that last a couple of years. In addition I have some comfort foods like canned fruit, protein bars, cereal, and canned chili with a can opener. Super important – that can opener!  We buy food twice a year and make sure it’s good for at least 9 months so we have time to cycle it back through our pantry. We don’t eat peanut butter but that’s another good thing if you do.

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For WATER, we purchased the large 55-gallon drum for water. We filled it and it lasts for 5 years with drops you add when you need to access the water. It was about $60-80 for the drum, cover and supplies. You can get all different sizes but it’s one less thing I have to worry about cycling in and out. We also have some bottled water I can use to clean my hands, etc. but probably not drink.

So if you have those things you are good! Here’s my list of extras:

  • Stuff to keep the kids comfortable and occupied if we are stuck outside for days
  • Bucket to act as a commode
  • Everyday supplies – tampons, wipes, diapers, diaper cream, toothbrush, toothpaste, brush, etc.
  • Extra blankets to keep us warm
  • First aid kits – plus ace bandages, ice packs, baby receiving blankets to make slings or tourniquets, old magazines to be used to set an injured arm, belt – can be used as a tourniquet or sling or lots of other things, medications (Tylenol, motrin, etc.) disinfecting wipes
  • Batteries for a flashlight(s) and for a radio
  • Paper and pencil to make notes
  • Duct tape, rope and a whistle

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That’s really all I have in my kit. Just looks like a lot. Use the lists you find online and decide what’s right for you and your family and slowly add to it. Set a timer on your phone to remind yourself to clean stuff out and replace what’s expired. Mark on the boxes of anything that expires so it’s easy to see when you need to change everything.

Keep your food and first aid supplies together so that you can get to the boxes quickly and you can change out those items rather than mixing everything up.

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Use the 21 weeks to prepare and start slowly. Add a couple things at a time and when it’s easy to do for yourself and works with your family’s budget.


Screen Shot 2015-03-08 at 9.44.11 PM

We just moved to the shed and it works for us. Before that we had giant boxes on the side of the house. It worked for four + years for us. My neighbors use a trashcan on wheels (and apparently you can get an extra green waste or recycle bin from Waste Management and Burrtec) that could work too. Keep your supplies layered so you can reach the first aid and food first since you’ll need to change that out.  Remember, we started with backpacks in the closet and we still have those in the big kit now in case we have to walk out we can carry what we need.

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Again, it took us 5 years to get here – start small and work on it a little at a time. It’s a work in progress and hopefully something you won’t need ever! I told you I was a wishful thinker.


  • Have $100 per person in your family in $1s and $5s ready in case you have to evacuate.
  • Don’t let your car get lower than ½ tank of gas whenever possible so if you have to evacuate you don’t have to stop for gas or get stranded
  • Put in extra prescription glasses (get cheap new ones every time you purchase/get a new prescription. You can get find websites that sell them for $12-15 a pair. They may not be super pretty but they’ll be the correct prescription.
  • Take a picture of your prescriptions on your phone when you get them. Then you’ll always know what you take if you aren’t home and need more medication.


If you are told to evacuate and they give you 5, 10, 15, or even 30 minutes, have a plan as to what you’ll take. We have a list on the side of the fridge of things that are important to me and what I’d be devastated if I didn’t have. In an emergency you aren’t thinking clearly but if I have a list then I know. Some people have a 5 minute list, a 10 minute list, a 30 minute list, etc. Depending on your style you can also write the location and who is in charge of getting what. For me, the list just ensures I’ll take things I want – pictures, a couple irreplaceable sentimental items, medications, clothes for a couple days, etc.

Take your emergency backpack (unless your car is good to go) with you in case you need it as you leave your home.

I hope this helps to calm the fears, the anxiety, the desire to bury your head in the sand and pretend it’s not going to happen to you. Start small and you’ll feel ready in no time!       


7 thoughts on “Preparedness Tips from Erin

  1. I very much enjoyed your presentation.. I have an earthquake kit but I got great ideas from you on things I could easily add.. I am also working to get it into a shed. Really great, doable information! Thanks. We worry about things like this but often the jo. Seems way too big to tackle. You made it look pretty simple!

  2. Thanks Erin for all your tips. A couple of years ago I got so overwhelmed thinking about it, I bought some pre prepared buckets from Sam’s club. Gave me peace if mind while I work on it.

  3. This is great! Thanks, Erin!! We have extra food and water but I need to pick up a couple backpacks. Thank you for the tips!

  4. I learned so much from all that you shared! I’m so thankful you opened my eyes to how important it is to be prepared cause we definitely aren’t. But that will soon change! Thanks again!

  5. Thank you so much Erin for all the time and effort you put into preparing and putting all this information together for all us MOPS Moms. I’m sure we all feel way more prepared now thanks to you and the wealth of information you have provided!

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