Before we start preparing, we should identify what kind of disaster we're preparing FOR...
~ Local, short-term disaster: This could be anything from your house catching on fire to a 3-day power outage to a neighborhood manufacturing facility suddenly spewing toxic chemicals.
~ Weather related disaster: You know ... the usual ... earthquake, snowstorm, ice storm, hurricane, tornado, flood, volcano eruption, sink hole, et al. Identify the most likely to occur in your area (folks along the Las Madres fault keep in mind the possibility of an earthquake) then prepare accordingly.
~ Economic failure: This could be anything from a sudden job loss to worldwide economic collapse.
~ Bio-hazard outbreak: Bird flu or whatever pandemic they are predicting this year.
~ Violent social / political unrest: Rioting and looting is usually combined with one of the disasters above but can also occur on its own such as 9/11 or any other terrorist attack.
Sometimes the problem is localized and sometimes it is broader.I personally believe the goal would be to survive the more likely disasters although the ideal would be to thrive, as well. Thriving is just gravy, though.
Let's get started.