50 Last Minute Ways to Prepare for an Emergency

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When disaster is “about” to strike, you may have a couple of days, hours or minutes to prepare. When the disaster is like that of Hurricane Sandy, people had a few days to “prepare” for it. Here’s a list of things you could do to prepare, even as the emergency is upon you.

  1. Fill your gas tank.
  2. Have a 72 hour kit for every person in your family.
  3. You should have cash in your 72 hour kits because if electricity is out bank ATM’s won’t work.
  4. Turn your fridge and freezer to a colder setting & if you lose power keep the doors closed as much as possible.
  5. If you have extra space in your freezer, take containers or zip-loc bags full of water and fill in the extra space.
  6. Charge all your electronic devices and keep them charged just in case you lose power.
  7. Keep a list of emergency numbers handy, along with family members’ phone numbers. Write them down if you only have them stored in your phone.
  8. Have an emergency escape plan from your home and make sure all family members know it and know where to meet.
  9. Clean out your gutters before the storm comes and make sure that the storm drains on your street are clear from all the fall foliage.
  10. Check your sump pumps.
  11. Be ready to help your neighbors.
  12. Get batteries.
  13. Get a radio so you know what’s going on.
  14. Board up your windows. Stay away from windows.
  15. Have everyone one sleep in the same room so you can keep tabs on them.
  16. Make a few meals and snacks that will last without power.
  17. Make sure to have a non-electric can opener.
  18. Have lots of non-perishables on hand.
  19. Have enough food and litter for your pets.
  20. Have an emergency binder with all important paperwork ready to go.
  21. Have your prescriptions filled.
  22. If you have a gas grill, make sure you have a full tank of propane.
  23. Do your laundry now, so you have clothes that are dry and clean.
  24. Make sure you have a car charger for your cell phone.
  25. If you have a fireplace that you can use to cook in, have a supply of wood.
  26. Check with your elderly and family to make sure they are prepared or invite them over.
  27. Find your glasses so you don’t have to deal with contacts in an emergency.
  28. You can use your water heater for extra water too. Just shut off the intake valve so that you aren’t bringing in contaminated water and use the spigot in the front to dispense water.
  29. Fill up some quart and gallon bags with water and freeze them, you can use them for ice or in the cooler if needed.
  30. Keep items you don’t want damaged by water in the dishwasher as it is waterproof.
  31. Have glow sticks on hand for little ones, especially at bedtime.
  32. 32. Consider filling large containers (the big 40-gal Rubbermaid totes) from the tub spigot, and storing them in the tub. COVER all bins/tubs of water to keep kids and pets safe.
  33. Get hand sanitizer and wet wipes to wash with.
  34. Improvise an emergency toilet with a bucket lined with a bin bag and some sawdust or cat litter to cover the contents after each use.
  35. Be careful of carbon monoxide when using gas heaters/stoves or candles.
  36. Take pictures of every room and closet in your house – it makes a huge difference if you have to deal with insurance companies.
  37. Have a rain barrel to collect water you can use to flush toilets.
  38. Get solar outdoor lights, you can use olive oil in jars with wicks as well.
  39. Pick up a solar phone charger then you will still have power for your cell phone.
  40. If you have a good old fashioned plug in land line phone and socket this will serve you better than a cell phone.
  41. Refill dish soap/laundry soap/ hand soap bottles back up slowly with water, you then have a easy bottles filled for light cleaning, and easy rinsing.
  42. If you have to use a gas-powered generator, make sure to have a little extra fuel on hand; just be very careful where you put it, and be mindful of your local laws on how much you can have on hand at one time.
  43. Don’t forget to pay attention to fire prevention measures. Have your extinguisher handy.
  44. A chainsaw is good for clearing fallen trees. Only use one if you have prior experience. The aftermath of a storm is not the time to be learning how to use it.
  45. Anyone with an oxygen tank – make certain you have 1) a travel tank, 2) a generator or means to operate your home device, 3) that you have notified health officials of your scheduled location during and after the hurricane.
  46. Have books and other non electric entertainment like board games ready for everyone (and flashlights or lanterns for when it gets dark).
  47. Have canning lids on hand so you can, can the meat if freezer defrosts. Use either the wood/coal stove or a gas range. Have the jars sterilized in the dishwasher ready.
  48. Use silicon caulking to seal a stopper in the bathtub before filling it. LOCK the door as a safety measure for kids that may climb in.
  49. Prepare an evacuation list of things you would need to grab in case you need to evacuate.
  50. Turn OFF the TV! If you want to keep updated check for updates then turn it OFF. The constant hype will stress you and your children out.

This article was written by Jodi and Julie of Food Storage Made Easy fame. 

47 thoughts on “50 Last Minute Ways to Prepare for an Emergency”

  1. Jennifer Sensiba

    I’ll definitely second #50. I read in a book that studies have shown that people who watch TV news have higher stress levels and health problems, and that’s in everyday life!

    It seems when you read, it’s easier to separate the hype out.

  2. #51. Eat all of the ice cream in the freezer in case the power goes out. It is SUCH A MESS when it defrosts and runs down all over everything else.

  3. Load up the family, fishing tackle, sack of taters bucket of lard, camping gear, other necessities. When the going gets tough the tough go fishing. Don’t forget to pack your favorite firearm.

  4. Good advice, I would only add a caution with #28 and hot water heaters. You should turn off the gas or electrical circuit breakers before you drain water from it. If the power comes on with an empty hot water heater you will instantly burn out the heating elements. Gas firing an empty tank could warp or crack the tank.

    During a power outage, I would suggest turning off the main circuit breaker to the house as power surges and voltage spikes caused during the restoration of power could possibly damage electronic components and motors. Watch for your neighbor’s lights to come on then turn on your main breaker.

    You should start a Survivalist Mom’s matchmaking service for us lonely hearts out here. There are good guys that would love to meet preparedness minded Christian ladies / single moms.

  5. Aigh, NO: “49. Have canning lids on hand so you can, can the meat if freezer defrosts. Use either the wood/coal stove or a gas range.”

    You need a pressure canner to can meat safely. If some of your meat goes bad before you can eat it, so be it — that’s worlds better than killing one of your kids with botulism!

  6. Great list! JBB’s right, though– an emergency is NO time to be trying to water bath can either meat or non-acidic food stuffs. If you are a seasoned and trained food preserver with the knowledge and supplies, go for it. If not, eat the food or throw it out. An emergency is no time for someone (much less your entire house!) to be sick. 🙂

    1. Kathy Hanford

      Who said anything about water bath canning? You can pressure can on a gas or wood stove or even an open fire (this one takes some extra care). I saw no mention of hot water bath.

  7. I would put items such as clothes, footwear or other items in ziplock bags to keep them dry also. It might be wise to have a couple of boxes of gallon ziplock bags handy.

  8. “You should start a Survivalist Mom’s matchmaking service for us lonely hearts out here. There are good guys that would love to meet preparedness minded Christian ladies / single moms.”
    How rude. . .AND non-Christian

    Try: http://survivalistsingles.com/

  9. I would suggest matches or a lighter. I personally, dip my wood matches in fingernail polish and let them dry (pointed up), to waterproof them. This is a simple prep that is good year around. Also, make sure their are enough sleeping bags for everyone in the household, clean and ready to grab in case of ANY EMERGENCY!!!!!

  10. For surviving an emergency, be it a natural disaster or a governmental takeover, how can firearms and ammunition NOT be on the list??? Having all these listed items is of no value if you can’t defend them with the threat of deadly force. Even moms, or maybe especially moms, can learn to defend themselves with a firearm. Let’s face it, this list is not to prepare for a trip to visit Aunt Fannie.

  11. Keep pet food stocked up in rodent-proof trash cans, with weights and bungie cords over the lids to keep out racoons and opossums. (1) Having a pet starving is bad for human morale. (2) You don’t want yourself or your kids tempted in a short-term emergency to slip human food to the pets. (3) A dog can be a protector against human and other marauders, and can help catch or locate game, but will be very dangerous and grumpy if it’s starving. (4) In a REAL end-of-the-world emergency, you and your family will be running out of food, eating the non-essential pets, and then eating the stored pet food. Don’t think that can’t happen.

    If fresh road-killed deer, rabbits, or squirrel is available in your area, these can be bagged in contractor’s bags or freezer zip-lock bags and frozen in an older freezer in an outbuilding or barn; cut up larger road-killed deer into chunks with a “sawzall” saw after freezing. If it’s only for pet food, you don’t even need to skin, bone, or behead the game before freezing. A large dog will be quite happy with a deer head or deer legs with hooves still attached. As long as your dog is wormed regularly, you don’t need to be excessively afraid of the meat having parasites. The enzymes and nutrients in the fresh wild meat are a lot better for your dogs than the overcooked, corn-filled kibble bought at the store. I have seen an older dog with severe skin diisease totally heal up and gain weight eating deer meat.

    If the road-killed deer is absolutely fresh and relatively undamaged, consider dressing it and freezing it for human use. There’s nothing wrong with it – it just got killed by a car rather than by a bullet. Cut out the parts severely damaged by the impact and organ meats your family hates and freeze these for your dogs and cats.

  12. #13 Be sure your radio is battery powered or a crank radio. Great info……to Brin, We can all the time and I would never can meat without using a pressure canner. Thanks

  13. I wanted to add, the dishwasher isn’t a good place to store items to keep them clean. My cousins house was flooded and dirty water came in through the drain and ruined everything.

  14. It’s not politically correct, but after the comment about pet food above, this needs to be said:
    Have firearms available, stored in a safe place and accessible to all responsible teens and adults in the family. Make sure all of these responsible adults and near-adults know how to load, shoot, and clean these firearms. In a real emergency, human marauders will have no qualms about taking what you have prepared. I am not talking about your neighbor whom you welcome into your home and feed along with your family. I’m talking a marauder whose pattern of life has been to take from others, 24/7. There will also be many extraneous pets “released to fend for themselves” (abandoned), which will be starving and have zero respect for humans. These animals will be a threat, especially running in packs, but WITH firearms training and preparation will be a non-threat and even food for your family in a major long-term emergency.

  15. During the ice storms in the last few years in the Northeast, both electricity and gas were out. Many homes today are without a backup heat source and during this time of year staying warm should be high on the list of considerations. Canopy beds were originally designed with heavy drapes over the top and around the sides so they could be closed at night to retain heat. Having an old bedspread or comforter to make a tent over the dining room table provides a cozy ‘playhouse’ and warmer sleeping quarters for the wee ones.

  16. It needs to be addressed, and never is. Weapons is of course a real necessity, and violence from looters and such when you will be the only ‘Law’ around, must be accepted as a real possibility. What you NEVER EVER read, is about dealing with the corpse of either the starving 4 legged threats, or, more than likely the two legged threat. You can’t just leave them where you dropped them now can you? So…it’s time that all the prep, and SHTF bloggers/experts, start telling ‘us’, how to deal with the dead. You can eat the dog(s)….. Ummm….etc. etc.

  17. I would also recommend that a fully stocked First Aid Kit be on the top of your list. You should also include any special medication that your family members need on a daily basis. In times of a crisis, accidents may happen and medical facilities may not be available,. So PLEASE be prepared and pray that you won’t need any of them.

    1. This is the one thing that bothers me most. My husband is diabetic and on blood pressure and cholesterol meds. It used to be you could order your medication from the pharmacy up to 3 or 4 months in advance, but now it’s so regulated,m like they want you to be completely dependent. What if, besides the threat of running out of medication, you can’t just “call in a refill” because of whatever SHTF scenario?

  18. In any DISASTER situation,where the power could be out for days,thieves will be stealing everything they can get there hands on.Food and gasoline from your vehicles.
    If there are only 2 people in a house when the disaster strikes,One person SHOULD STAY AWAKE, while the other person sleeps. Someone should keep an eye on everything you don’t want stolen.A GUNSHOT coming from the dark will make the thief think twice about what he wants to take from you.
    A WARNING SHOT should change his mind, INSTANTLY!!!! ( Night-time warning shot ONLY )

  19. Not enough was said about water. Either bottled water or keep cleaned and sterilized milk or soda jugs ready to be filled and stored in freezer. Do not store water on cement floor, chemical changes to water not good for consumption. Have some sort of water filter with storage container, can be used for water from rain barrels.
    Guns, ammo hell yes!
    Candles with a wide base, sleeping mats for insulation on cold floors-move mattresses to common room. Many more ideas, but at least grey matter moving towards solutions!!

  20. It is not “rude” for a single Christian to only want to date another Christian. The Bible says not to be unequally yoked.

  21. How is it rude and unChristian to what to date another Christian who is into survival? If you don’t want to date a Christian don’t check that box.

  22. As for corpses, mass burials in the neighborhood using heavy equipment or burning them in a ditch. The energy required to bury a deep enough hole is not sustainable for individual burials, unless they are rare.

  23. @rick s,
    The only “warning shot” anyone should get is one in the head or chest. Sure, a warning shot may send them running, but probably only to your neighbor who isn’t armed. They already know that they don’t belong on your property.

  24. Okay, calm down all you crazy gun- slingers! Yes, self defense and property protection are important but can we try to remain civilized? As a “survivor” or several New England ice storms where power was out for weeks and as part of the relief effort following hurricane Sandy, I can attest that item #11 is alive and well and people really do come together and help each other. With Sandy, a night time curfew was enforced to prevent looting in the seriously damaged areas, and all ended well. During my several trips down there to help with demolition and reconstruction, many families had no where else to go. Many homes or neighborhoods had generations of families and friends all together. I think an alternate location is key… Not necessarily a bug-out location, just friends and family who are willing to put your family up until the crisis clears.
    With the ice storms, I can attest to countless stories of people sharing homes once they got their electricity back on with several families at a time! People pooled their resources and skills, helped their friends and neighbors, some up to six week, not knowing when the power would come back on.
    So keep your guns in their holsters, unless you already live in an area that is prone to such behaviors, your neighbors are your friends.

  25. I think there are a lot of great ideas out there, and depending what area you are in will depend on what you need. I have learned that we should really have up to a year’s supply of food and water for each family member, and should also take wilderness survival classes starting at young ages, and repeated often. First Aid and CPR training, and hunter safety courses. Even seed storage, and growing herbs and other edibles along the way will give you a headstart, hands down, ahead of those not prepared at all.

  26. If you have a full 5 gallon propane tank and a standard “green bottle” Coleman type propane camp stove, you can buy an adapter hose for about $20 that lets you run your stove directly from the 5 gallon big tank. Doing so will let you cook for probably weeks. If an earthquake cuts off natural gas, this will be huge help.

  27. Nobody was recommending anything other than being prepared. No one was claiming that you should shoot your neighbors. You’re being self-righteous.

  28. TO: All
    RE: Heh

    MOST of these things should have been done WELL BEFORE the disaster hit.

    Purchasing things like food and hand sanitizers…..forget about it AFTER the event. The looters will be there well before you.


    [Be Prepared…..]

  29. TO: All
    RE: Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance (PPPPPP)

    You’d better be well prepared before disaster strikes.

    That includes having a Bug-Out-Bag and Bug-Out-Plan.

    For the former, I rely on what I carried as a young paratrooper. Enough to keep me (1) feed, (2) watered, (3) clothed, (4) armed, (5) healthy, e.g., first aid, (6) slept and (7) sheltered for at least a week.

    All in a rucksack and field web harness.

    That’s for everyone in the household.

    For the latter, you need transportation, even if it is only LPCs (Leather Personnel Carriers, i.e., boots).

    Have a vehicle that you can rely on. And additional cans of gasoline to support it.

    If you’ve got one of the few vehicles operational, be prepared to defend it to the death, as others will want to take it from you. [NOTE: Remember the scene from Tom Cruises War of the Worlds, where he’s driving through town?] Such people may want it and what you’ve got in it, but they are condemning you and your loved ones to death by taking it.

    Read a good book. I recommend A Distant Eden, to appreciate what will happen in a worst case scenario.


    [Be Prepared….physically, logistically and mentally….]

  30. To repeat what another poster wisely pointed out: forget canning meat. You can NOT can meat safely by boiling jars of it in a pot of boiling water. Temperatures will not get hot enough to sterilize the contents. Only a pressure cooker will safely can jars of meat, and even so, you’ll need explicit instructions depending on the kind of meat, how it’s cut, and the amount. You can’t wing it. If you don’t follow pressure canning instructions specific to the item being canned to the letter, you are inviting food poisoning. In fact, canning of any kind at this point is probably too late and a waste of time, water, & energy.

  31. a mundane suggestion: lots of pairs of work gloves, at least one per family member, or more. You will likely have to clean up broken glass or timber, move heavy objects, and so forth.
    In the 1989 earthquake our house did not suffer major damage but our kitchen was a sea of salad dressing with lots of broken china and glass mixed in. Now I keep a pair of gloves with a flashlight and an extra pair of shoes under the bed, where I can reach them if the next quake hits at 3 AM.
    Also of course gloves will keep your hands warm if it is cold.

  32. RE: Water

    You can get a good filter system from Amazon. Compact for back-packing.

    Get some water purification tablets as well. They make the water taste icky, but they will kill every bug in the water you pull from some muddy stream. I know because they worked from me in Panama.

  33. I also have to concur with the folks who state that firearms and ammunition are a must. There can be some pretty ugly people when all has gone to ‘Hell in a handbasket’, such as looters, and worse… It’s always best to be able to effectively excercise one’s basic human right to self defense if necessary, as when seconds count, help could be days away. Never be a victim!

  34. As for canning meat from the freezer, immediately eat what’s still good and then “can” the rest by letting it sit out for a few days, and then packaging it up really nice for the looters to take. Marinating in the local privy also helps.

  35. Have a few good firearms and ample ammunition. Won’t help to have all those preparations and then gangs of thieves visit you wanting what you have and not being afraid to take it.

  36. WOW. Am I the only one that read the title before I read the list? Of course you should have ammo etc….but that’s not something to do “last minute”. Charging your cell phone, filling the gas tank and rounding up important papers….those are “last minute” tasks. Eating all the ice cream? Wooohoo. That should be number one on the list. Then you have the energy to do the rest of the list and extra space in the freezer to put in some water that will freeze and keep the freezer colder; possibly saving some of the food for consumption later in the emergency situation. If this emergency situation is a storm you might only be talking 3 – 5 days before things start to become normal. If you are talking End of the world as we know it….this list is way to short. But then you all know that and have your ammo all stockpiled.

  37. How you plan to keep and protect what you have I don’t see in your list. Bows & arrows will work, as will crossbows & bolts, and are quiet. A spear is practical, as is a knife, providing you are practiced in those skills. However, there is nothing like a 12 gauge Remington pump shotgun with an extended magazine tube. #4 buckshot is what the FBI uses; 000 is the choice of most other law enforcement agencies. A rifle in AR-15 format in 5.56mm caliber with Surefire 100 round magazines and Lake City 62 grain green tip ammo will defeat most body armor. Here is where the 12 gauge comes back into play: a slug from it at short range over the heart will most likely rupture it from impact, not penetration. The spleen, liver, and the head, of course, are the next best targets. You do need a handgun, and 100 years of experience has taught us that the Colt .45 ACP pistol is the best tool for hostile social situations at close range. Naturally, being old eagle eye, you will perceive the intent from body carriage and other subtle movements, and avoid that scene if at all possible. A .22 Long Rifle bolt action Savage heavy barreled rifle is indispensable. They have been used to kill everything from a mouse to a polar bear (by Inuit’s-Eskimos). But the Inuit have been there in the Arctic for 10,000 years and know everything about killing anything that lives there, and you don’t have that store of knowledge, so you do need the most useful and easily found high-powered rifle that most people can handle and find ammunition for almost anywhere:: a bolt action Savage rifle in .30-06 caliber. The .30-06 has 100 years of use in numerous wars and untold millions of hunting situation. It will generally penetrate any but the very most sophisticated body armor, and the head always goes squish when hit by it. I say Savage brand because 1-they are not terribly expensive; $400+/- new; 2 – tough as hobnails; – 3 generally not very expensive in good used condition; and 4 – for the money they are, new out of the box, generally more accurate than rifles costing twice as much. With a 4-12X44 Weaver scope and mounts, it is a genuine 1,000 yard rifle. Lest you have forgotten, doughboys qualified at 1,000 yards in WW One with original iron sights-no scopes. Alvin York, were he alive, could testify as to the worthiness of the cartridge, as will WW2 and Korea vets still alive today. I am former USMC, competitive NRA rifle shooter, and hunting since I was 12, 55 years ago. Others will have, as they are are entitled to, their own and differing opinions. Everything I have said to this point can either be historically documented or is a result of my own personal experience. And to Dear “Rosy spectacled” LINDA; you. my gentle and trusting soul, will find that what people are like when the situation is temporary and soon to pass, then will discover that not only are we whom you nastily describe as “gun crazy guys” are the ones who will have what it takes to yank your ass out of the fire if the SHTF seriously, like months. All those good and kindly souls, unarmed and unable to protect themselves will pray very hard to Jesus that they cab get a gun of any kind. I am a retired OTR trucker, lived in Chicago 7 years, and have been many places. And I’ve seen lots of street thugs who would take great joy in dragging you off into an alley or abandoned building, from which you would be lucky to emerge alive. Keep your habit of name-calling to yourself: those of us who have had lots of Nazi’s or Japanese or Chinese or North Koreans or Islamic maniacs or VC and NVA desperately trying to kill us know that a weapon is an absolute necessity in a war zone, which this nation is quickly becoming. In fact, more people are criminally attacked within 25 miles of their own home than any place else. Why? Because most people don’t travel much further than that in their daily routine, and metro areas are full of the street animals who infest this nation like bedbugs in a flop house. If you think so little of your own life that you are not willing to protect it, that’s on you. Just don’t put it on us by calling names . We’ll try to help, but when there are 1000 VC coming down the hill to kill you, and there’s only a squad of you. it’s time to get the hell out of Dodge, and live to fight another day. Maybe it would help you to visualize what our troops are going through in Afghanistan day and night, never knowing what will happen next or from where, and the fact is that anybody who says they weren’t always scared in combat zone is a Goddamned liar or intensely insane. From the time you get there to the time you leave, fear is always right there with you, every second, every minute, every day, every night. and you never get that nice peaceful sleep you get here in the States in your own bed. You are always tuned to whatever sound you hear, no matter how little. What is it? Who is it? And that my dear, is what it WILL BE LIKE if this beloved country of ours ever hits a bad break on the pool table of life. After every war, we’ve had men come back whose minds were irretrievably broken, and are still in VA hospitals to this day. Peace and love are great, however, they are purchased at the “Freedom Ticket Window”, with lives, body parts, minds, blood, and souls destroyed. Something tells me you won’t make it in the worst case, but you might get lucky. I hope so, for your sake. You are not going to make it otherwise.

  38. Have some large tarpaulins and ladders on hand if you are facing a storm..When many roofs are damaged at once, then you need to be self reliant and not dependant upon emergency services to provide cover for your roof. Also cover each bed with a waterproof cover, so that if you loose part of your roof during a storm event, then you will at least have a dry bed to sleep in when it has gone and the roof is tarped. .

  39. If you live in the US then guns for an ‘end of the world’ scenario are normal, but here in the UK and many other countries around the world, the majority of the population DON’T have guns and so have to use our imagination as to defending ourselves..
    Don’t get too used to your guns! People will take them from you and you will eventually run out of bullets – and assuming you survive a good while then your attackers will also be gunless to an extent – so what would you do?
    Use your head and arm yourselves with other things like knives, bows and arrows, catapults, poison, mace, sleeping tabs (in the event they invade your home & eat your food) … even a kids toy potato pellet gun will be handy to use close range on faces, (you can put your own pellets of anything in) and in the absence of mace- then spray bottles of bleach and even hairspray aerosols directly in the eyes will do enough damage for you to at least escape, or grab a heavier item to knock them out with! Also learn how to escape being bound by plastic tags – there are plenty of vids on You Tube that show you just that and many more things… I suggest you also have a safe place somewhere in your back gardens or beyond your home perimeter where you bury essentials so that if your home is invaded and you are unable to get back in, you have an emergency store you can go retrieve. … Forget you have a gun for a moment and think of something else because one day you may actually need that alternative!

  40. A question never answered- If we get a “boil water” alert from the water company, can we still use the reverse osmosis water without boiling? Do I have to replace the RO filters after the problem is fixed?
    Of course the RO installation company says “Replace” but is it really necessary? If I do not use water company water during an emergency, (I use bottled water), can I just flush out through faucets in the house and use the RO water a week after the problem is fixed without changing RO filters?

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