1.) Go with your gut.
A couple of years ago while living in West Virginia, I just had this strange sense that I should stock up on water. After drinking spring water out of the gallon jugs, I would fill them up with tap water and store them under the kitchen sink. Poor D likely thought I was a lunatic. But, any thoughts of the such were short-lived. One day while dining out, I noticed the water I got from the fountain at Panera smelled like licorice. It also had a funny taste. About that time, D started getting text messages from friends saying not to drink the water. Turns out, there was a chemical spill at the town's water intake that ended up contaminating the water supply for weeks. And guess what? I had about 15 jugs of clean water under my sink! For the next few weeks, we used it for dishes, cleaning and bathing.
Listen, if you live in the Midwest, you're likely not going to need to prepare for a hurricane. Chances are you know where you live and the chances of things happening in that area. Go with your gut. If you have a feeling you need to prepare for something, then do that. I also credit God for my ultimate discernment at this time. I've known that as a pretty failsafe method.
When prepping for certain things, it's good to go multipurpose every chance you get! Items that can be used for more than one thing take up a lot less space. One of my favorite multipurpose gadgets is a Flashlight-Radio-Phone Charger. It stays in our emergency kit for power outages or inclement weather.
3.) Keep it small and together.
It's really not helpful to have emergency items at various places in the house. In an emergency, you're not going to have the time to run all over the house and gather the stuff. Plus, it's just clutter when it's strewn about. Take a small container and fill it with small items you'll need. For instance, in ours with have the multipurpose flashlight, a couple of emergency candles, a compact camping stove, water tablets, matches, lighter, ponchos, bottled water, a couple protein bars, Sterno cans, and a deck of cards. It's in a small plastic container that's about 2 feet by 1 foot under the sink. It's quick to grab and has food, water, and shelter (poncho) as well as the means to heat food/water, ways to stay informed and light and power source. This would also work well for a backpack so it's easy to grab (which is what I'll end up switching to once we're in our new place.
If you keep it within reasonable parameters and keep it small, there's no reason you can't be prepared and be a minimalist at the same time. What about you? Have you ever been through a situation you needed to be prepared for? Were you prepared? How did things turn out?