Ok, I think most if not all of us here would already have the basics and would not be counting on anyone, government or otherwise, to be there imediatly after a disaster to bail us out but for any folks new to the idea of preparedness I wanted to back up and explane how to do at least the most basics on a VERY tight budget. If there is ever any kind of an emergency or disaster there is a very good chance you will be on your own for at least a few days up to a a month, but for a bare minimum you NEED to be prepared to fulfill all your (and your families) needs for 1 week. Now you can get a lot more elaborate and a lot of other things would be excelent ideas to add to this list but this is the cheapest, simplest list I can come up with to avoid being like to folks in New Orleans dieing after 3 days from dehydration due to a TOTAL lack of preparedness. The basic catagories that you need to cover in a worst case senareo in aproximate order of importance are as follows; water, medication/firstaid, fire, food, shelter, sanitation. If you can cover these then you will likely at least survive until aid gets there if it is comeing. Lets start with water, you need about 1 gallon of water per person per day. For a family of 3 for 1 week that means 21 gallons of water at minimum. This is strictly for drinking and cooking if you will consume the water in or with the food. Now this first method is not the best as it will become stale tasteing in a matter of days and will need to be changed about once a month but save all your empty milk and soda bottles/jugs, wash them out and refill with water untill you have what you need and store them in if nothing else cardboard boxes so they can be quickly grabbed to go if needed. A better method if you have even a little money you can spend is to go to a Dollar general or even a Wallmart and you can get jugs of spring water for 75 cents a gallon or less generaly if you go with a no name brand, It may be labled spring water or just drinking water get whatever is cheap. Now you have your water, the next most important thing will be medications for anyone in your houshold who needs them to live, if anyone in your home is diabetic for instance make sure you alwayse have a minimum of 1 weeks supply of insulin and that everyone knows where it is kept and to grab it if you have to evacuate (same goes for any meds needed). You also need at least a basic first aid kit. This dosnt have to be, and is best not, the $30 kit from the store. Here is a list for a basic kit that you should be able to put together for under $20; a 10 pack of feminine hygene napkins-these can be used as a wound compress for any serious cut or wound and fastened with duct tape, 1 roll duct tape- to hold splints or bandages in place, small bag of cotton balls- can be used under duct tape fot bandaids, 1 bottle generic imodium AD-to controle diareah which could be a problem in a disaster area, 1 bottle generic ibuprophen-taken in 600mg doses will control swelling in case of broken bones and such pain relief and fever control, 1 bottle hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol- can be used to clean minor to moderate wounds as well as to sterilize needles and such used to remove splinters and such, 1-2 sewing needles or straight pins- to remove splinters and debris from wounds. This is an extremely basic kit and very inexpensive but should cover most any medical need (aside from nesicary prescriptions) that the average laymen could deal with for a short term. Food will be your next most important thing along with fire. If money is extreemly tight you will need to cook it rather than open a package a dig in, so you will need a cooking pot which could be as simple as a large coffee can or even a large fruit can though a saucepan would be more ideal. Ramen noodles are not the best but for a week or two will keep you feeling full and keep you from starving to death, and cost around 10 cents a pack, haveing 3 to 5 of these per person per day would hold you over. A much better option nutrition wise and still cheap is oat meal, buy the generic stuff in a large can and have at least 1 large can per person for the week. Rice also will sustain you and is cheap, get on of the 50 cent bags per day for the family of 3. All of these and some others I havent thought to mention just need some water and heat. It would also be a good thing to include a set of silverware per person here. The fire can be fulfilled with a bic lighter, a can of vasoline and some of the cotton balls beyond what you needed for the first aid kit. Dip the cotton balls in the vasoline and it makes a fine fire starter, you can gather limbs or debris to put over this and build a fire, if you have never built a fire before without lighter fluid you may want to learn its not that hard but you have to start with the smallest driest stuff you can and increase in size gradualy. With a cooking container and fire you can also take any water not heavily poluted with chemicals can be boiled for at least 10 minutes and then should be safe to drink. Now if you have at least gotten what has been covered so far they you will most likely at least be able to survive but I will cover the rest of the things listed and a few others that will improve your chances more and make you a lot more comfortable. Shelter is the next thing, this will hopefuly be able to be your home or some building but in case thats not an option its good to be prepared to have your own. The simplest would be to go to walmart and buy a small tent that while cramped as hell you could fit 3 people in (especialy if one is a child) starting at around $20. If this is to expensive you can get a small tarp or a roll of drop cloth plastic for around $5 then get a roll of string (which has a LOT of other uses as well) and along with the duct tape in the first aid kit you can set up a shelter to keep the elements off you. This would also be a good place to mention that it would be good if you can also have a blanket for each person with these supplies, even in warm weather they can make you a lot more comfortable to lay on and if at all cool will be great to help stay warm. Sanitation is another concern that is also of some importance. This would basicly be at minimum a roll of small trash bags and a roll of toilet paper for each person. Tis way you can use the bags as a restroom and have something to wipe with. The bags can then be removed from the area where you are staying and away from any water sources. In adition it would be an excelent addition to have a medium to large bottle of hand sanitizer per person to clean hands prior to eating and/or after anwsering the call of nature. In addition to these items it is a good idea to include a decent knife of some sort. A good hunting knife would be best here or a multi tool but even a butcher knife from the kitchen will work. This will be useful for creating shelter, fire, opening packages, and if needed for protection from those who may have not prepared and want to take what you have or just to do you harm in a time of lawlesness. A firearm of some sort and at least 1 or 2 boxes of shells would also be an excelent addition as this provides more protection from any preditors wether 2 legged or 4 legged, remember if something like this happens there are likely to be LOTS of dogs who are running loose and havent eaten since the disaster or before and will be running in packs. Even a single shot .22 or shotgun, both of which can often be had for under $100 will fend off attacking dogs or generaly people and also will allow you to add meat to your food supply if you see any wild animals since deer, rabbits and squirls have become quite common even in a lot of urban areas now. A flash light with a spare set of batteries for seeing as well as signaling in the dark. A whistle or air horn to signal for help when or if help comes. You should be able to fill the top priorities for under $50 for a family of 3, fill all the primairy needs for the same family for well under $100 and come up with everything listed here for under $200, nearly $80-$100 of this being for a firearm and not everything has to be done at once, many of the things, like the water can even be done cheaper. But if you at least gather the things listed here you may not be as prepared as you COULD be, but you will improve your chances of surviveing a disaster by at least 1,000% and at least for the basics of this list there is truely no excuse to not be at least that prepared as even a person on a fixed income could afford these things, if you dont think you could...how much is the computer you are reading this on worth, can you eat it if you need to, can it save your life or that of your family, how did you come up with it, cant you get these things the same way and if not perhapse haveing these things would be worthy of the sale of your computer or TV or something.