No matter what occurs, you are going to need water, food and shelter. For water and food, you must determine how much per person, per day and how many days of supply should be required.
Keeping bottled water on hand is great. Also, have the ability to purify water of unknown provenance- boil, chemicals or filtration. Have a capability to store the water you’ve purified, both in bulk and in ready to carry containers.
Food is a little trickier. Once again, you’ll have to determine how much you will need, per person, per day and for how long. I won’t get into ration planning and preparing food for long term storage as others have covered it much better than I can, notably Jim Rawles. A good place to start on nutrition outside of normal refrigerator, freezer and canned fare is NOLS Cookery. This book is a little gem on ration planning, nutrition, staple foods that will keep without refrigeration and recipes (that taste pretty damn good) prepared in one pot on a single burner stove from basic foodstuffs.
Shelter can be the toughest basic of all to accurately assess. Is your dwelling hardened against natural and manmade disasters? If not, do you have building materials and tools on hand to repair any critical damage? Or do you anticipate relocating to a planned fallback position? If so, by vehicle or by foot? How does your region’s climate affect your choice in shelter- is a poncho and 550 cord going to suffice, or will you need a 4 season tent and a sleeping bag designed for a mountaineering expedition? This paragraph is in questions because only you have the answers to your situation. There is no one size fits all answer.
Part II: Self Defense
It may surprise some that I didn’t include self defense capabilities in part 1. The reason is that far too many people will drop $10K on an EBR, webbing, ammo and associated kit, but not prepare emergency or long term stores of food or water. Contrary to popular belief on the gun boards, you will not be executing a defense of Rorke’s Drift all day, every day. However, you must have the means to protect yourself and your family in the event that a physical confrontation cannot be averted either through avoidance, deception, or cunning. As with the shelter section, ask yourself a series of questions regarding what you need: Are you urban, suburban or rural? Is the terrain wooded, open plain, etc? What type of threats are you looking at- opportunistic looters, semi organized mutant zombie bikers on a festival of rape and pillage or a well organized “other”? What should your primary means of defense be? Secondary or back up weapon? Will every adult be armed? How will ammo be carried? How cleaning and maintenance gear and repair parts are needed? Start with Boston’s Gun Bible and research, research, research before making a decision.
Part III: Mental and Physical Requirements
Conduct an honest to yourself assessment of your mental and physical fitness. Do small inconveniences spin you up into a lather? Does being out of a routine “throw you off”? How far can you walk? How far can you run? How far can you do both while carrying a load equal to 1/3 your body weight? How much can you lift, push and pull? What skills do you have? How many are useful in the projected emergencies you’ve identified? What do you need to learn to get you and yours to the other side? Again, ask yourself these questions. The most important item in your kit bag rides right between your ears.
In the third part of this series, we’ll talk about identifying gaps in your preps and ways of closing or mitigating them.