TSHTF and you have some choices to make, and make sooner rather than later. Are you going to "bug in" and hope the government comes to your rescue before things get too bad? Or do you plan on "bugging out" and getting away from the city as quickly as possible?
Bugging in or bugging out is truly a matter of personal choice and the situation on the ground at the time. I will offer a few tips on both scenarios and suggestions for making a bug out bag.
As we saw in Katrina, the federal government’s response to disaster is feeble to say the least. It only took 3 days after the storm for "civilization" to fall apart. Looting, murder, rape, and other violent crimes soared in the vacuum that followed the storm. It took another 7-10 days for FEMA to set up any kind of robust assistance programs.
If you are going to stay put then having 14-21 days of food, water, and medicines stocked is a good idea. FEMA recommends 72 hours of these supplies, but history has shown us this is not nearly enough.
I recommend that you don't broadcast to your neighbors that you are prepared to stay put for any amount of time. Your neighbor Joe who you BBQ with on the weekend, have a beer with in the garage is going to come knocking at your door as soon as it is evident TSHTF and he isn't going to be that nice guy he was before then if his family is hungry and he knows you have food.
It sounds harsh but if you plan on staying put you need to look out for you and your family and do what it take to keep them safe.
Use common sense, it won't take your neighbors too long to figure out you have a good supply of food and water if they see your kids playing in the yard like nothing is wrong, your lights are on when all theirs are out, they smell cooking food on the BBQ. Regardless of your ideas on firearms you may want to seriously consider getting one and learning how to use it.
The single best piece of advice for "Bugging In" is don't draw attention to yourself.
If "Bugging Out" is your choice then long before TSHTF you need to have a plan for “Bugging Out”. Simply saying, “I’m going to head to my favorite camping spot” or “I’m going to head to the country” is not a plan. Those of us who live in splendid isolation in the country do so because we have taken the time to gather the skills that will enable us to thrive under the worst conditions and most of us are willing to defend what we have. If you show up on my property if TSHTF uninvited, I can say it will not end well for you. I am not the only person up here who thinks along those lines. So you need to have a specific place to go long before TSHTF.
Even though we live 60 miles for the nearest city we know that eventually the frightened masses and roving gangs will make it to our house and there will come a time when we may have to bug out, so we have a place to go even further into the wilderness and a plan to get there.
We practice leaving our house with our vehicles and all our supplies 2-3 times a year, at various times of the day and night, staying off main roads and traveling by back country trails and old roads that aren’t well traveled and only known by the folks that live up here, with vehicles it takes about 2 hours. We also practice leaving on foot and heading cross country to our “Bug out site”. We make that trip 2-3 times a year as well under various conditions (rain, snow, fog, etc.) with our small children in tow. It takes 3 days, walking 8 hours a day to get there. If you are traveling with children make the walk as fun as possible without drawing attention to yourself or your family. We try to keep the kids occupied by playing name that bird, or name that tree types of games along the way. Our pace is set by the slowest member of our family, our 3 year old daughter, and she decides when we stop to rest. She can out walk most everyone else without getting tired for the first 2 -3 hours. After that my wife and I take turns carrying her, we carry her for 45 minutes, rest 15 minutes, and switch, until she insists on being put down. We always stop for the night about an hour before sunset and set up a camp and head out as soon as everyone has eaten breakfast and the camp is torn down and all traces of our passing have been eliminated, yet another game the kids can play.
My wife and I have made the trip ourselves to set up caches along the various routes we have found to get there so we don’t have to haul everything on our backs and have a place to resupply along the way. I suggest you do the same. I will post another Inscrutable on DIY burial tubes that won’t set you back more than $10 each or less that will hold everything you may need from food and water to firearms and ammo.
The main point is practice your bug out plan regularly; you need to know where you are going and how you are going to get there both by vehicle and on foot. If you are taking a vehicle find routes that keep you off of main roads; in all likelihood you aren’t going to be the only one on the road and you will probably hit major traffic jams on main roads. Practice packing your vehicle and leaving your house. Time how long it takes you to get to your bug out site. Leave at different times and get to know the traffic patterns in your area and what the best time to leave is. Avoid using a trailer if at all possible, if you must use a trailer use the smallest one possible to get the job done. If you plan on taking every prep supply you have, consider pre-positioning your preps at your bug out site to avoid using a trailer.
If you have to leave on foot or that is how you plan on bugging out practice at least 2-3 times a year, under various conditions, making the move from your house to your bug out site; If you can, avoid routes that take you through the “bad neighborhoods” that exist in virtually every city or town in America. If you can’t avoid those neighborhoods get through them as quickly as possible. Again don’t draw attention to yourself any more than is necessary to get out of Dodge.