One of the main components in the arsenal of people convinced that things are going to collapse soon is the "bug out bag". Designed to hold enough essentials to keep you alive until you can get somewhere safer, some are relatively small while others are trekking backpack sized kits or even multiple huge plastic totes. First aid, food, fire making, spare clothing, water filtration, etc. are all common items in these bags.
That is all well and good. If I lived in a neighborhood where I was concerned about being vulnerable if (when) the wheels come off, having stuff ready to go makes some sense. But if you are serious and are convinced this is going to happen, I would suggest that you don't need a "bug out bag", you need to be bugging out permanently right now. I subscribe to Rule One from Ol' Remus at the Woodpile Report: stay away from crowds.
In the event the existing Cold Civil War turns hot, people in large urban areas are going to be stuck and that means urban areas will be death traps. In a large urban environment fuel and food supplies are going to run out quickly. All it takes is a few trucks being waylaid and the drivers given the Reginald Denny treatment for the deliveries to stop and when gas stations and small urban groceries start to run out it will cause a panic and a run on remaining stores and stations which will accelerate the process. If you are not familiar with Reginald Denny, this is what happened to him:
This was not happening during a mass nationwide civil unrest, this is just looting, rioting and mayhem after the Rodney King verdict. Imagine this sort of unrest, with an additional quarter century of endless reinforcement of resentment, resulting not from an unfavorable verdict but from general collapsing of society. Then multiply this by almost every major city in America. The 1992 riots in L.A. resulted in 52 deaths and over 2000 injuries. The National Guard and the Army and Marines were called out and over one billions dollars in damage resulted. Now if you are a guy driving a gas tanker truck and you see stuff like this happening to other truckers, maybe you don't drive into an urban area especially since you have to leave your truck to make your deliveries.
"But I live in the suburbs so I will be OK."
The suburban area my wife grew up in is a mostly very nice little city adjacent to a larger city. There are around 20,000 people in the town as of 2010. It is over 90% white, mostly ethnic Catholic working and middle class people. It should be fine, right? Well maybe not. Right across the border between her home town and the larger city is a housing project with a reputation for unsavory characters. All of the eastern part of the larger city is pretty sketchy, like make sure the doors are locked and you are aware of your surroundings even during the day sketchy. In other words the trouble in the urban area is in walking distance from the suburban area she grew up in. When all of the stores and gas stations are looted, you can be sure that the crowds will look east to the big box retailers and residential areas a few miles walk away.
But even if you are in a suburb like the one I grew up in on the opposite side of the same city, you are going to have issues. Where I grew up is not a reasonable walk from the main city and there is an intervening suburb. But many of the same problems are going to occur when the gas and grocery delivers stop.
The more urban the area, the worse it will be and the faster it will go sideways. No gas to get away and food running out. You are in trouble and your biggest trouble might come from the neighbor in the apartment next door. Your bug out bag won't help if things go crazy overnight and your car is on empty when you wake up and realize it is time to go.
The best thing you can do right now is create distance between you and trouble. Again quoting from Remus:
There's nothing in this kind of civil war for men of sound mind and good will. Rule One is your best guide: stay away from crowds. If you're in or near a city, especially the coastal urban complexes, plan and commit to self-evacuation. First out is best out.
"But my job is in City X!"
Get a different job.
The number of terrible decisions made by people based on their employment is really uncountable. I moved my family a bunch of times so I could make more money. Now I am out of the corporate world entirely with nothing but some serious health issues to show for it but my kids spent most of their early lives living out of boxes and preparing for the next move. In a world of telecommuting and millions of unfilled jobs, you can get a job anywhere. What value is there in a 401k plan and an health savings account when the economy collapses? I make substantially less right now than I did five years ago. I look at my old W-2s and am shocked by how much I was making but then I realize we are not living worse off now than when I made more money. We adjusted and life went on. We have a nice home on some acreage in the country. We have food on the table and live quite comfortably. You can make these changes. The only question is if you want to.
If you are single, you can throw it all in a decent backpack and walk away from your car but if you have a family, how far do you think you will get trying to walk away with a couple of small kids, your spouse and hundreds of pounds of gear? Not far enough to get to safety and certainly not far enough to get wherever you planned to bug out to in the first place.
It is all well and good to have the best bug out bag in the world, be wearing the dopest tactical clothing from 5.11 and have a super customized AR-15 but if you are sitting stuck in a car on a highway, running out of gas, too far from home to walk back and nowhere near safety, you are about to become a heavily armed, well dressed corpse and some looters will gladly take the contents of your bug out bag.
The best place to bug out to is where you already live, in a place where you are prepared to ride out the storm. The best time to bug out is right now.