Last Minute Emergency Preparations – No Matter How Prepared You Are, There Is Always Room For Improvement

Before we get started, let me make myself 100% clear on something: I DO NOT advocate waiting until the last minute to prepare for an emergency.

No matter how prepared you are, there is always room for improvement—even at the last-minute, but some people will simply not prepare at all until it is absolutely necessary. (Often, when it’s already too late.) Hurricane Irma made both of those details abundantly clear.

When you know a disaster, such as a hurricane, is about to strike, you could have anywhere from a few days to a few hours to prepare. The good news is that there are a lot of last-minute emergency preparations anyone can do to dramatically increase their likelihood of survival, comfort, and ability to help others.

Take a look over this list; Hell, print a copy and store it in a drawer in case you need it when the power is out, and if there’s something you think should be added, be sure to share it in the comments section at the end of the article.

  1. Have a bug out bag with at least three days of food ready in case you have to evacuate.
  2. Ensure that your firearms are accessible and loaded, but safe. My opinion is that the most useful and safest place is on your body—I carry pretty much anytime I have pants on.
  3. Prepare a security plan based on the current conditions. In the Marine Corps, we would typically provide security at 50%, so at any given time, half of the unit was awake and looking for any potential threats. In most cases you could go to 25 or 20% and still be fine.
  4. Fill the gas tanks of all your vehicles, your generator, and any spare gas cans. If you have a chainsaw, ensure you have 2-cycle engine oil to go with it.
  5. If you don’t already have one, buy a battery-powered radio to stay up-to-date on local news.
  6. Withdraw enough cash to cover basic needs for a few days to a week or more.
  7. Buy enough water to provide each member of your family 2 gallons per day for at least three days.
  8. Place 2-liter bottles filled about 3/4 full with water into your freezer. Once frozen, this will help keep your freezer colder for longer. If/when they thaw, they can be used for drinking water.
  9. If you wear contacts, remove them and wear glasses. This will reduce complications during an already challenging time.
  10. Turn your refrigerator and freezer to their lowest setting, and keep them closed as much as possible. If the power goes out, this will help extend the time they can preserve your food.
  11. Fill your bathtubs with water; you can store about 42 gallons of drinkable water  per tub. If you have small children, be sure to keep the bathroom door locked to prevent them from falling in and drowning.
  12. If you own a gas grill, buy an extra propane tank or two. If you own a charcoal grill, buy a few bags of charcoal briquettes. This will enable you to cook or boil water even if the power goes out.
  13. Bring any pets indoors, and make sure you have enough food and supplies for them.
  14. Double check your fire extinguisher and keep it handy.
  15. Ensure that you have plenty of soap, hand sanitizer, and baby wipes for sanitation.
  16. If flooding is a possibility, fill sandbags to place around your doors—this is much easier when the dirt is dry.
  17. Have various forms of entertainment, such as books, board games, or cards on hand to keep people occupied.
  18. Charge all of your electronic devices.
  19. Do your laundry so that you’ll have clean, dry cloths for several days even if the power goes out.
  20. Stage flashlights and extra batteries throughout your home.
  21. Buy extra batteries for your flashlights and radios.
  22. If you have a fireplace, ensure that you have plenty of dry wood on hand.
  23. Board up your windows and stay away from them.
  24. Prepare several meals that don’t require refrigeration.
  25. Make sure you have a non-electric can opener.
  26. Double check your first aid kit, and keep it handy.
  27. Make sure you have a tea kettle—it can be used to quickly and easily distill water.
  28. Refill any prescriptions that you can, and ensure you have adequate supply of over the counter medicine, such as anti-diarrhea, pain relievers, cold medicine, etc.
  29. Secure any critical documents and paperwork in a waterproof container.
  30. Stock up on any last-minute food items you may need—especially non-perishable foods. Don’t forget goodies though; a little comfort can go a long way.
  31. Have everyone sleep in the same room. This help you keep track of them, and simplifies evacuation if it becomes necessary.
  32. If you haven’t already, prepare an evacuation plan with multiple routes. You can stage some gear in your vehicle ahead of time so you can get on the road faster.
  33. Place clothing, shoes, towels, and blankets in plastic bags or tote bins to keep them dry.
  34. Buy extra candles.
  35. Prepare a printed list of emergency contacts—it won’t do you any good on a dead laptop.
  36. Keep several empty buckets and/or tote bins handy in case your roof begins to leak.
  37. If elderly family members depend on oxygen tanks, ensure there are enough to last several days or longer.
  38. Shut off the intake valve on your water heater so that contaminated water can’t enter it.
  39. Ensure that you have plenty of matches and lighters.