A Practical, No Fear Prepper’s Checklist & Last-Minute Crisis Plan

When you think of a potential crisis do you think of a regional event or a global disaster?

For most of my life, I was more scared of the coming apocalypse than I was a potential ‘crisis’. With images of beheaded Christians, raptured children, and the one-world government, I never really gave any thought to such normal things as hurricanes, earthquakes, or financial depressions.

It seems silly now, but the fear I had grown up with for so long was on such a cosmic scale that the idea of having preppers gear or a prepper plan just seemed like a waste of time. After all, how on earth can you prepare for the ‘end of the world’?

Now that my fear is gone, the idea of preparing for such normal events like natural disasters and political turmoil seems so simple. Even just a little bit of emergency preparedness and a preppers list has brought a significant sense of security to my wife and me, and has already helped a few times when we’ve been hit with power outages in major snowstorms.

If you’ve read my previous article about my journey from prepper to preterist, you know that at one time in my life I was a full-blown ‘prepper’. I moved my family, spent tens-of-thousands of dollars, learned new skills, built a small farm, wrote a book, and even started a company geared towards educating people on emergency preparedness.

While we are currently working on a revised edition of the book that reflects our preterist perspectives, I thought it might be worth writing out a simple preparedness guide for those who want to be prepared for a potential crisis but aren’t looking to turn their life upside down in the process.

Over the years of teaching people how to become ‘preppers’ I’ve learned that most people just want to know what to do if either a) a known crisis such as a hurricane or snowstorm is on the way, or b) what they should have on hand should they need to evacuate their home in a hurry for one reason or another. This little guide is dedicated to answering the first of these two scenarios.

NOTE: There are plenty of preparedness strategies and concepts that fall outside of this scope, so if you'd like to know more, subscribe to our blog to find out when the revised preparedness guide is available.

Last Minute Preparations

Let’s pretend you just searched “emergency preparedness”, found this article, and as you’re reading, the news stations are counting down the hours before a massive hurricane hits your town. What do you do?

Step 1

Go to the store (preferably before everyone else gets there) and buy what you can from the guidance listed here for each of the 5 categories that follow (checklist at the end).

The idea here is that you cannot really be too concerned with how much something might cost or how much you have left in savings at the end of your shopping spree. Depending on the crisis that is developing you may not have a savings that’s worth anything by the time it’s over (i.e. financial meltdown).

Step 2

Put together bug-out-bags for each of your family members in case you need to leave your house. These are small ‘kits’ with a variety of items that everyone needs (even the kids), and no, your brand new TV is not on the list. You may never need to leave your house, but if you do, you’ll be glad you’re not trying to figure out what to bring with you while the world is ‘falling apart’ around you.

As mentioned above, this article is about Step 1. If you need further guidance on how to build your bug-out-bag (BOB), subscribe to find out more. There will be many bonus checklists and quick reference guides included in the overall package and a comprehensive BOB guide is one of them.

Know what to do in a crisis - be prepared with this prepper's checklist, even last-minute

Category 1: Water

Second only to air, water is the most important substance for human existence. Perhaps even more important to recognize is the fact that clean water is likely the most underappreciated luxury of our modern-day society. It is a necessity of life that most people are way too ignorant of.

  • Did you know you can only survive 3 Days without water?
  • Do know if your municipal water supply is gravity fed or pump driven?
  • Do you know where your water supply even comes from?
  • Do you know where the closest source of sweet/fresh water is to your home?

Knowing that water is the most important preparation you can make, here are the top steps you need to take before you do anything else. We’ve done our best to prioritize each step in order of importance to ensure that you have the vital issues covered before supplies run out and it’s too late to address them.

Storage 1 - Consumable Water

The first thing you will want to do is address the need for consumable water (drinking and cooking).

With peace in your heart and calmness of mind, go to the store ASAP and purchase as much pre-packaged water that you think you will need for you and your household. This amount will depend upon how long you project you will be without your regular source of water.

While water bottles are readily available, you will find that gallon water jugs are often cheaper and easier to ration per person. Regardless, purchase how much you need and what you can actually get your hands on.

Keep in mind that if you are in need of last-minute water storage then so is everyone else in your area. Do not give in to fear and greed when you are doing your last minute preparing. Purchase what you need and leave some for others. So much of the shortages that are common in these types of situations are unnecessary and unfortunate.

We’re not saying you should be afraid to rush to the store and take care of your family. On the contrary, the urgency of this matter is why it’s the first thing you need to do in last minute preparedness. We are simply pointing out that peace and calmness are character traits that shine in times like this, and the world needs more people who have such traits.

Storage 2 - Hygiene/Cleaning Water

The fastest way to address this need is to fill up your bathtubs, sinks, trash cans, and as many other water containers that you can find around your house.

While not as important as consumable water, this type of water preparation really makes a difference after a few days and you will be happy you did it. You may even want to purchase more large containers at the store if consumable water is already sold out. It’s unlikely people will be stocking up on storage totes before an emergency, so you may find that filling up your hallway with water-filled buckets is the best way for you to ensure you have enough water to last through a crisis.

Sourcing & Treatment

Finally, once you have addressed immediate water storage, you may want to consider addressing the potential for a slightly longer term plan.

While water bottles and water jugs will disappear off the store shelves almost immediately, water filters and purification treatments will likely be available a little bit longer since most people won’t be considering a longer-term issue and/or don’t have any idea of how to source water other than their tap or the store.

WARNING: While conserving water is important in crisis situations, do not conserve water at the expense of drinking what your body needs. People have died of dehydration with a canteen of water in their hand because they thought it better to conserve.

Category 2: Food

When most people think of preparedness they immediately think of food storage.

What most people don’t think about is the fact that the average healthy person can actually survive for about 3 weeks without food if needed.

So in reality, unless you are preparing for more than a 3-week crisis, you don’t really “need” to worry about too much food preparedness. The Epoch, of course, does not recommend this mindset towards food preparedness, and neither do most people’s stomachs.

As clearly stated in Category 1, water is the most important substance (after air) for human existence. We’re reiterating this because food tends to become its own ‘pet project’ due to the comfort it provides.

What often takes place in preparedness is that people realize the need to get “stuff” and the first thing they do is rush out and get some sort of food storage item.

The psychology behind this is the fact that people don’t want to have to worry about their next meal, and so that’s the first thing they tend to address. While this is a great start, and psychological comfort will be important in the coming days, you must not forget that food is a distant second to water. Not to mention that many foods need some sort of liquid to even prepare them in the first place.

Storage 1 - Food Needs

Assuming you have already addressed your water needs as they are the most important, the first food items on your list should be ready-to-eat foods that do not require electricity or any serious level of preparation to be edible.

If you truly have time to do any last-minute preparing, then you should be aware of the likelihood of a power outage for the impending crisis. If that likelihood is real, then it will do you no good to store up on things that need to be refrigerated/frozen or cooked in an electrical appliance. Thus, microwave popcorn and frozen chicken are NOT going to help you.

You will want to purchase canned goods that provide a variety of nutrients and flavors such as soups, vegetables, pickles, and meats.

While many people don’t like the thought of eating lukewarm canned chili, the fact of the matter is that anything you can buy in a can is edible as is. If you really want to warm it up then you always have the option of throwing the can on a bed of hot coals from a fire (making sure to vent the can so it doesn’t explode).

Some other ready-to-eat foods that you will want to purchase are cereals, chips, nuts, jerky, and other dry snack items that you can eat right out of the package.

Keep in mind that these items are typically low in protein and high in chemical additives.

Last but not least, bread and fresh fruits/vegetables are great for short-term emergency storage.

Clearly, these items won’t keep for long, but often just a few days is enough time for you to ride out the emergency.

Storage 2 - Food Wants

After you’ve gathered your food necessities, you can then address your food ‘wants’. Keeping in mind the same limitations as above, you will want to look at things that are not perishable.

For the emotional stability of you and your group, you don’t want to overlook things like candy, cookies, soda, or alcohol.

In the midst of a crisis, you will find that the mental and physical stresses of daily life are significantly magnified. For this reason, you will want to store up some of your favorite comfort foods in order to provide a sense of familiarity and luxury.

Obviously, it would be better if those foods were full of nutrition, nonetheless, don’t underestimate the value of a piece of chocolate in a stressful situation.


90% of the time your only option for last-minute food preparedness is going to the store and purchasing items for storage. However, you may live in a location that has some sort of food source that you may be able to access during the crisis.

For instance, if you live on a lake with fish in it or you have a neighbor with fruit trees you might be able to consider that as another source of emergency food.

Of course, you will need to access these sources legally, so you’ll want to use your last minute prepping time to gather what you need to retrieve that source. If you need a fishing license then make sure you purchase one. If your neighbor is willing to share his fruit with you then you will want to arrange for that in advance. You’ll also need to make sure you have things like fishing poles and bait, or even a rifle and ammunition.

This is not usually a viable option for last-minute preparations, but it never hurts to consider the possibilities.

NOTE: Don’t forget to ration the food you buy. Stress can cause you to eat more than you expect, so keep track of what you have. Also, FEMA now regulates the sale of alcohol before an impending crisis. For many years, beer was the first thing to disappear off of the shelves in supermarkets before disasters hit, even before water. Go figure.

Category 3: Shelter

Our definition of what subjects belong in the category of ‘shelter’ is those things which shelter you from the elements of nature. Housing, clothing, climate control, and light are a few examples.

In the order of importance of the 5 categories, shelter is number 3, primarily because you cannot truly move on to categories of power or security until you have solidified your shelter. Without proper shelter, housing or otherwise, you will not be able to sustain any sort of real power or security because you will be fighting the elements 24/7. Just go sit outside in one spot without moving for 2 hours and you will catch a glimpse of how effective nature can be.

1. Weatherization

In most cases, if you are able to do last minute preparations for an impending disaster, then it is typically going to be a weather-related event such as a hurricane or flood.

Thus, the first thing you’re going to want to do if you know such an event is coming is to weatherize your home as much as possible.

  • For a hurricane, you will want to bring all your belongings into your garage and board up your windows.
  • For a flood, you will want to get some sandbags and get as much of your belongings off the ground as possible.
  • For a forest fire, you’re going to want to clear all trees and brush from the perimeter of your home.

2. Bug Out Bag (BOB)

At this point of a crisis, if you still don’t have any sort of a BOB prepared then you may want to consider focusing on these types of items when you go to the store.

Clearly, you will want to address water and food first, but if you have to hit the road for one reason or another you are going to wish you had a BOB prepared that contains everything you need to survive for at least 3 days.

3. Specialty Purchases

After addressing your water, food, and BOB, if you still have money and time to do further last-minute preparations you may want to consider purchasing items to address specific shelter issues.

For example, if you anticipate the power going out for some time, then you may want to purchase a generator and fuel.

If you anticipate flooding of the sewer systems you may want to look at purchasing some sort of camping toilet.

This is also a good time to make sure you have candles, matches, campfire cooking gear, work gloves (for cleaning debris), sleeping bags, and other survival type items that you may not have put in your BOB.

Category 4: Power

When you first began considering your emergency plan, one of the primary things that likely came to your mind was the need for electrical power should something happen to the grid you are connected to.

As most people quickly figure out, there is a vast difference between what is required to supply short-term power versus what is required to provide long-term power. While short-term power options are readily available, it is the long-term power quandary that opened our eyes to the fact that ‘power’ is much more than just electricity.

For purposes of how we have defined power in the 4th category of preparedness, we have included any subject that empowers you to lead those around you in an emergency setting, including having electricity.

The previous 3 categories were all things you needed to have for your own provision and survival, regardless of who else is around, but the final 2 categories are all about the fact that you will most likely be required to interact with others; and in order to truly be prepared for such interactions you will need to address the subjects of power listed below.

1. Tools & Equipment

Depending on the crisis coming your way, you may want to consider purchasing a few pieces of equipment to help you on the other side of the event.

  • You will likely want to purchase a generator and some full gas cans to keep your refrigerator and hot water heater running for a few days.
  • If you expect the phone lines to go down, you may want to purchase some inexpensive 2-way radios.
  • If you don’t have anything to help you clear debris, you will want to purchase some gloves and hand tools.
  • If you plan on using your vehicle for transportation or hauling debris, then make sure you have extra gas stored in your garage as well as full tanks in all vehicles.

2. Finances

If you don’t already have “spare” cash in your home, you will definitely want to run by the bank and get as much as you think you might need and can afford.

Remember to get small bills (i.e. 1’s, 5’s, and 10’s) so that you aren’t paying $50 for a loaf of bread. Do this sooner rather than later because banks only have so much cash on hand and they often run out ahead of a crisis.

3. Knowledge

If you don’t already have a general idea of what to do at this point in a crisis situation, then there really isn’t a whole lot more you can do to increase your knowledge before the event occurs. (Using this guide is a good start.) However, if you already have knowledge on your side then you are much better equipped to fill in the “gaps” of your knowledge in your last-minute preparations.

For instance, you may know a lot about water, food, and shelter survival methods, but you may not have taken the time to study up on emergency medical techniques. If this is the case, you may want to quickly stop by the store and purchase an emergency medical guidebook just in case you might need it.

If you know where your shortcomings are in regard to your knowledge base, then take this time to gather resources that can help you with what you know that you don’t know.

TIP: If you can’t afford a generator to keep your fridge or freezer running you can always purchase ice and put it in your freezer until the power actually goes out, and then use the ice to help keep both units cold. Limit how often you open the doors and your food should stay safe for a few days using this method.

Category 5: Security

All the preparedness in the world means nothing if you can’t keep it secure for you and your family.

Unfortunately, we live in a world that seems to be increasingly polarized in the manifestation of good versus evil, and while it is not our intention to focus on subjective social issues, we cannot ignore the reality that people will try to take what you have if it comes down to your family or theirs. Even if not a life and death issue, jealousy, greed, and just plain thievery will make those who are prepared a target of those who aren’t. This is why security must be part of your preparedness lifestyle and much more than just having a gun and a safe.

Security itself is a way of living, not something you can buy and stick in a closet. As a matter of fact, you will find that true security is more of a “feeling” than it is anything else. If you are not prepared to be secure, you won’t “feel” secure. That is why, in addition to guns and safes, we consider things like medical kits and document organization to be security issues. Even having a simple emergency plan that you have communicated to your family will make all the difference in how you feel in a time of crisis. Security is the peace of mind that brings preparedness together.

1. Defensive Security

If you don’t have any security preparations in place at this point then you need to seriously question just how important running out and buying a gun is versus spending your 24 hours purchasing food and water. Additionally, if you don’t already own a gun at this point then you likely don’t know how to use one very well anyway. Nevertheless, if you feel that rushing out and purchasing a firearm or other defensive weapon is essential to your security during the coming crisis then we would never advise you to “not” do so. Just make sure that you aren’t giving into fear over reason.

2. Finances

One thing you can do in advance of a crisis to enhance your security equation is to purchase last-minute medical supplies. You likely already have a small medicine cabinet with random supplies in it, so don’t feel like this is your only option “or else”. Still, the likely medical issues of minor injuries, the common cold/flu, and sunburn are all things you want to make sure you address if possible.

3. Knowledge

Two of the other last-minute things you can address are about family communication that results in the emotional security of knowing what everyone is going to do as the event draws near. You can quickly develop a last minute emergency plan along with making copies of all your important documents. If your house gets destroyed but you have your family and documentation with you, you will be way ahead of the game in getting life back to normal on the other side of the crisis.

TIP: Hand sanitizer is a great way to address both medical and water need; reducing your need for hygiene water usage while providing much-needed sanitization for maintaining healthier survival circumstances.

Last Minute Prepper’s Checklist (printable)

For those who weren’t taking notes in the above sections, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Download this printable prepper’s checklist that covers everything we’ve discussed to this point.

last-minute-preppers-checklist printable

Download Last-Minute Prepper's Checklist

About the communicator


Austin is the Executive Director of Category Five Ministries and is the originator of New Age Christianity and Belief IQ. He is a Scorpio, who likes long walks on the beach and cuddling by the fire... oh, and he likes long theological discussions over a cigar and Bourbon. He loves to pontificate about almost any subject and is never afraid to believe stuff that goes against conventional wisdom (maybe to a fault). Time will tell, but he may just be the craziest teacher to grace the internet... ever!