|Waiting for water. Sendai, Japan|
So what's a person to do? I'm certainly not an expert on this subject, but it seems that a common-sense approach to solutions could be a good starting point. Here's a short list of what I came up with while pondering the subject:
1) Attitude: Be flexible and have a pro-active and self-reliant mindset. Be ready to do something rather than waiting around for someone to help. Often, during disasters, people are their own worst enemy... frozen in inaction, unable to know what to do or make a decision to do it, and thinking help will be coming soon. Assume help won't be coming.
2) Transportation: Keep the fuel tank of your car, truck, or RV as full as possible. Consider the top half of your tank the fuel you use on a day to day basis, and the bottom half of the tank your emergency supply. With fuel you have a chance to escape the problem in your personal vehicle.
3) Warmth & Shelter: Extra clothing, tarps, tents, para-cord, rain gear, etc. may be critical depending on the situation. Have it available, know how it works, and know where it is. For warmth and cooking, have a means to start a fire and to make the wood to keep it going.
4) Fresh Potable Water: Have water purification tablets, bleach, water filtration systems, etc. available and know how to use them. Clean water is the most critical item a body needs every day and is always in short supply or non-existent during disasters.
5) Food: Have enough high-calorie and energy-dense food available for the survival period so you don't have to put yourself at risk trying to procure food you, and everybody else, needs. It should be canned so it has a long shelf life and doesn't require refrigeration. Besides keeping your energy and strength level up, it'll keep you away from crowds of desperate people at the store.
6) Bug-Out-Bag: Consider having a B.O.B. that contains key elements from the list above and some other tools, etc., that may come in handy. These could also include a basic first aid kit, flashlights and spare batteries, GPS, Leatherman tool, Swiss Army knife, compact saw, hatchet, handgun, radio, two-way radios, cell phone, a supply of cash... You get the idea.
I'm sure this isn't a complete list and uber-survivalists would have a lot to criticize or add. But it's a start. The key to this thinking is to take responsibility for yourself and to NOT leave your survival up to someone else. Like a good first aid kit, you hope you never need to use it. But if you do it's really important to have.
It could make you a survivor.