First up? No matter the emergency, be ready with a disaster supplies kit like that detailed on ready.gov, Martin says. That should include water (one gallon per person per day for at least three days — and don't forget about your pets), at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food, and things like manual can openers, flashlights and extra batteries (including for your cell phone).
You may feel helpless if you have not been an outdoorsy or rugged person for most of your life, but the most essential lifesaving and survival skills and concepts are easily learned, if not mastered. Below is a list of several core skill sets you should make a point to get trained on and practice when you can. In all but the smallest towns there will be someone who has something to teach you about all of them.
Though its light weight and long shelf life are ideal for navigating harsh conditions, freeze-dried food is probably most famous as a cultural curiosity: Like many Americans, I discovered it in a museum gift shop, gawking at the styrofoam-like ice cream that astronauts used to have for dessert. More recently, I encountered it at a disaster preparedness convention in Raleigh, North Carolina, where smiling, gray-haired preppers manned tables piled with plastic bags full of vegetables, meats, and stews.