I have seen some recent threads with people asking questions about what they should have in their bug-out bag or what things they should stock up on for their home etc... Most people do this without putting the required thought into it.
* First a lot of hunters and other pseudo-outdoorsmen are planning to go out to the local National Forest and live off the land.
One ) Local game would run out quickly, everyday would be like the last day of hunting season (i.e. usually the worst day to hunt).
Two ) Most people do not know what wild plants are safe to eat.
Three ) Camping out is nice for a weekend but try it for a month, most common camping gear would fall apart under serious constant use.
Four ) There would be a lot of seriously hungry people in the woods with you in short order. Traditional hunter gathers have spent their entire lives learning how to live off the land, they have the stored knowledge of generations to build own and they have “cultivated” wild patches of food. They also have a large area of land to support them. The common modern American hunter has none of these advantages and will not survive as long unless they also happen to be an Eagle Scout. And even a 1940’s era Eagle Scout would be hard pressed to survive off the land for an indefinite period of time.
* Second a lot of people have the plan to flee to their lake cabin or other remote vacation property and start to farm the land. Well most have problems keeping their Petunia’s alive without a lot of fertilizer and pesticides, they have no farming equipment at their summer cottage, and they have no seed stock or knowledge to start off with. Also most cottages are just modern houses in remote locations and are just as dependent on electricity etc…
* Third, people have bought some Wise Foods or MRE’s and throw them in a closet and think that they are prepared. They have no means to obtain fresh water, heat or cook their food. They might have a fire place but no serious supply of wood handy or a means to obtain some (they don’t even have a bow saw or axe).
Of these three groups the third group is the best prepared for most contingencies in my opinion. The chance of a wide spread chemical or nuclear attack is very low, but a hurricane, tornado or other natural disaster is probably much higher. A terrorist attack using a dirty bomb or chemical attacks will probably be very local in area. I advocate to being prepared to live without power, water or outside support for at least 7 days, I highly recommend a longer period of time, but 7 days is a minimum.
You have to think about keeping warm, food, water, security, personal hygiene, medicine etc… If you live in a coastal area and have to evacuate due to hurricanes then you either have to be able to bring these with you or go to a place where they are already in place. If you don’t have these basics you need them before you need a hazmat suit and gas mask.
For food storage I recommend storing what you eat and eating what you store. My family eats a lot of dry goods, beans, rice, flour, canned vegetables etc… When we first started to build up a surplus we simply bought a little extra each shopping trip, wrote the dates on them and place them in the pantry. This allowed us too slowly and affordably to build up our stores. We use the oldest items first and replace them when they are used. You have to have a method to keep records, and for us it is a dry erase board hanging on the pantry door. I recommend the Crisis Preparedness Handbook: A Comprehensive Guide to Home Storage and Physical Survival by Jack A. Spigarelli. He offers a good highly modifiable plan. If you have the space for it start an organic vegetable garden. Even if you just grow tomatoes and a few herbs you will gain skills and some minimum tools and you have the potential to scale up if the time requires.
I suggest that your first option should be to shelter in place, and only bug-out when you absolutely have too. This is the easiest way to plan even if you live in a large city. You can have a better plan for defense and set up rain barrels, build a solar oven, and do a lot of other things that are not very portable. I suggest having a Bug-out bag in each vehicle, mainly to get you home from your daily travels, I have a thread about what I have in mine.
Once you have your stores and bug-out bags, test them. Take your bug-out bag camping and learn what you are missing (I forgot to include toilet paper). Take a long weekend and don’t turn on any power or water and see how well you do. Try them in different seasons, see what you need to include for cold weather, etc…
Once you cover the basics then you can worry about NBC attacks, Carrington events, EMP’s and the other stuff.