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Getting Organized… For A Family Emergency

Carrie Kauffman, Professional Organizer, shares 3 ways to be prepared if the worst happens.

Friday, September 14, 2018 was my 16th wedding anniversary. 

It started off as a regular day for me.  Got the kids off to school and headed off to see a client. My husband left early for some routine medical testing.  


At 11 am, I got the call that would change everything.

It was my husband. He told me his routine test results were not good. He was having a medical emergency, affecting his heart, and I needed to get to the hospital right away. The days after that initial call were a blur…


Endless hours in the critical care ICU…


The sound of alarms going off…


A constant barrage of specialists in and out of his room…


Doctors, nurses, surgical teams…


All-day surgery…


A second surgery one week after the first…


Uncertainty.  Fear. Stress.  Exhaustion.

No one wants to get that call.  


You never think at 42 years old, you’ll get that call.


What would you do?


Who do you call?


Who’s your person?


Who will handle the things that you can’t–home, school, kids, work?


3 Ways to Be Prepared In Case Of A Family Emergency

Know Your Point People

For Communication:  My husband has one brother so it was a no-brainer to make him the point person. I shared all the details with him so he could communicate with others. You will not have the time or the energy to deal with phone calls.  Your focus is on the person in crisis.


For You:  Contact a close friend who can be there for you at the hospital. It’s a scary time and you do not want to go it alone. Your head and your heart are going a mile a minute and you need someone you can lean on. This person can also run quick errands if needed and make sure you are taking care of yourself.


For Home/Kids:  We all have emergency contacts on file, at school, for our kids.  Make sure that those individuals know that they are your emergency contacts.  Seems obvious but make certain. If the situation is urgent enough, your emergency contact may need to take your children overnight.  Are they okay with that? Are you? Make sure that you have your children’s school phone number (and address) as well as your emergency contacts’ phone numbers (and addresses) in your phone so you can easily contact them and share that info with your point people.

Have Your Will Prepared

“But it’s too early for me to think about that.”


“I’m only 40.”


“I can’t think about it.”


These are not acceptable excuses.  Estate planning must be done and it must be done well in advance, by a professional…before you think you could possibly need it.


Generally, you should have a will as soon as you:

  1. Open a bank account or investment account
  2. Purchase a home
  3. Have minor children


You now have assets, something of value to pass down and/or dependent children. Time to draft a will to designate what happens in the event of your passing.


Have the uncomfortable conversations well in advance. Sure it’s natural to feel that this process as a little morbid. To think about what your spouse and kids are going to do when you pass away. But, this must be done. And it must be done before you are in a life or death situation.


Without a complete estate plan (including will, health care power of attorney, financial power of attorney, and living will), your money and possessions will be distributed according to a formula fixed by law and could lead to your minor children being placed in the care of a guardian appointed by the court, not necessarily the person you would have chosen.


YES.  You read that right.  The court could decide for you, if you don’t.


It’s important to make your wishes known so that there is no confusion.


Thankfully, our wills were already professionally prepared and up to date. And make sure you’ve discussed any advanced medical directives. This is the last thing this 42-year-old ever wanted to discuss with my 45-year-old husband. But it was our reality, right in our face, and we had to be prepared.  


If you don’t have a will, do it now!

Share Your Passwords

Thankfully my husband and I are organized with our passwords for all of our monthly bills. While he is the one that manages the household finances and pays the monthly bills, we were already prepared in case something happened. I would still be able to pay the bills on time, do the banking, and not have an issue.


That is not always the case.  We all have our household roles, be it school contact, meals, finances, etc., but could your spouse take over your role, seamlessly, if you were unavailable, impaired, or worse?  Share those passwords.


Write them down or save them in a secure location so that your spouse can access them in case of emergency.


Being organized is not just about organizing your home, office, closets, and photos; it is about protecting yourself and your loved ones. Planning ahead and taking action when it comes to proper estate planning will provide you and your family with tremendous peace of mind.


Make this the year that you cross this off your to do list!

About Carrie Kauffman

Carrie Kauffman is an award winning professional organizer, member of the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals, Greater Philadelphia Chapter (NAPO-GPC) and owner of Carrie’s Essential Services, LLC. Carrie Kauffman provides organizing services, in homes and offices, on the Main Line and surrounding communities. Carrie’s Essential Services specializes in moving and packing, preparing homes for sale, office setup including filing systems, as well as general organizing and decluttering.

Carrie's Essential Services offers organizing and de-cluttering services for every room in your home, as well as documentation, billing and file management systems for businesses. Owner Carrie Kauffman has completed over 160 organization projects, both small and large scale. Her extensive experience and talent contribute to her ability to successfully turn a problematic space into a customized solution.