I've played this over in my head before and decided there are two lifestyles. Nomadic and Static. The following considers staking out a territory for a "home base" where one is secure for the rest of his days. It also assumes "the grid" is down. No electricity or internet, some plumbing works.
Pre-Phase Phase (I'm not good with phases)
- Before Anything: Eat Exotic Fresh Fruits while they are around. They come from so far away that, odds are depending where you live, you will never ever get to have Banana, Pomegranite, Starfruit or Mango again in your life. Savor every bite. Make Fruit Leathers and Freeze what you cannot stomach to consume. You will also need to bone up on Vitamin C while you're doing the most work.
- Unless you plan on maintaining and protecting cows for the rest of their/your life... you're unlikely to have a fresh glass of cold milk ever again. There are dehydrated milks (Klim) but it's not the same.
- Bacon. Eat all of what you can find. Cook it all up and dehydrate what you cannot stomach. Even if you hate it. You may never have the opportunity to eat bacon again.
Phase 1 - Fuel for your Future
The world is going to be vastly different in only 5-years time. Buildings will collapse from non-maintained roofs. Cars and Trucks won't operate off of stale fuel. Uncut lawns will overgrow and cripple streets along with freeze/rain cycles. Animals will grow unchecked and rampant predation will resume. Insects will rule the fields. There is no more weather channel, internet or food store. It will become an inhospitable world very shortly, you need to prepare.
- Refined Gasoline and Diesel will be useless in 2 years. You CAN make your own fuels (Combustion/Steam, Biodeisel) but there is a much much simpler answer.
- Propane is everywhere and it's shelf life is longer than yours. Walmarts, Home Depots and Millions of Tanks behind people's homes, half full from the previous Summer's BBQ Season. Safely, stockpile the conventional tanks (using trucks while they're still useful) making sure to properly maintain them.
- If you're lucky enough to be near gas stations with those huge above ground tanks, secure passage to them and secure their protection. Map out every one of them in a 50-mi radius. Expend the furthest ones first. O-Rings and valves can corrode and fail on the conventional ones, but the big boys aren't as likely to fail. Don't ever think about moving them.
- Store canisters away from your domicile but within reasonable distance with good ventilation. Keep Oil-Based paint nearby and paint them every few years to stave off rust.
- Go out and find Propane Powered Appliances. Forklifts, Bobcats, Refrigerators, Lanterns, Ovens, Weed Wackers, Generators.
- Yes, if you really want to you can dick around with Solar Panels / Wind Turbines and work on a battery farm and keep some modern conventions. DVDs will work for 10-40 years depending on the press and plastics involved.
- Keep growth down inside the compound. The rest of the world will become overgrown, last thing you want are a ton of thornbushes and poison ivy invading your space. Keep your paths clear with weedwackers and machetes. The roads won't completely overgrow in your lifetime, but at least clear the cars out of the way with bulldozers while you still can.
Phase 2 - Secure your Food
There's a ton of food still around in the world that'll be good for the next decade. Rice and Beans, Canned Fruits and Veggies. The Average Domesticated Human relies on these foods and cannot subsist "off of the land."
- One of the first things you should consider doing is getting a freezer farm up and operating off of generators (or using propane freezers which can be found for RVs.) Scour the lands for processed meats, hoping that they're still in a frozen state. Fruits, Veggies, Variety. Nobody will be farming these things anymore and odds are, the world will eventually become too inhospitable for you to maintain a farm without insects plaguing it.
- Sysco Trucks are refrigerated and can probably stay cool a week or two, and are likely chock full of the meals you'd otherwise be served after they've been microwaved at Olive Garden, Johnny Carino's, Applebees, TGIFridays, McDonalds, etcetc. If they haven't been looted already, they're a great solution to a "freezer farm." Now that you have all the time in the world, figure out how to use RV Propane Freezers to keep these trucks cool. Move them to your home, reinforce them in concrete and keep them free of bugs and animals.
- The Nearby Ocean may become tarnished in 2-5 years as runoff from humanity's downfall pours off the coasts and out of the unmaintained sewers. If you're a sailor and can sail out a couple miles for some mahi-mahi to freeze, that's awesome. Also, after the death of Gasoline, you can probably rig a Propane-Powered Weed-Wacker to be an Outboard Motor for a boat.
- Hunting is useful if you know what you're doing. Avoid protein poisoning by eating fats. Cook well-done, always. There's no cure for food poisoning now.
- Find a nearby river where no humanity is upstream for your water source. Use a Propane Forklift to carry a water back in a large container. Treat it with Chlorine Dioxide, Bleach or use Ceramic Filters. There's probably still usable water in water towers but no telling if whatever killed humanity has contaminated those.
- Incinerate your leftovers (there shouldn't be any...) to keep down on insect infestation.
Phase 3 - Home Compound
Insects and animals will grow plentifully without humans now. Wild Dogs, Bears, Coyotes, Mountain Lions, Feral Cats are all now the enemy. Malaria, Lymes Disease, Bebesia can be carried by insects and with Rabies, will likely grow out of control without human intervention.
- Secure an area, preferably within a high-walled region to keep bears and other predators away. Chain Link Fences need to be painted to prevent rusting. Paint them with motor oil a couple of times in the summer (if you don't give a rat's ass about the environment now)
- Drive Vehicles over to your Compound while they still work. Mobile Homes, School Buses, Fire Engine Tankers & Ladders, Electrical Contractor Cherry Pickers (for Hunting Blinds), Flatbeds, Box Trucks.
- If you can do it singlehandedly, transport the biggest few Yachts you can find to your compound. Ever see the inside of those things? Home away from home. Might be a nice place to spend the night if you need to feel like you're civilized again.
- Construct a cinder-block-based shelter away from Hurricane-Prone or Earthquake Prone Areas. Something very secure that'll survive hard rains, winters, and can keep out animals and insects, but simple to maintain and secure.
- Use Carbon Monoxide Detectors hooked up to a battery system. All this propane will generate Carbon Monoxide.
- If you can remove the septic tank, use RVs for their bathrooms then drive out with the forklifts and dump it somewhere... downwind.
Phase 4 - Self Preservation
- Stockpile Medicine. Most pills will lose effectiveness after 2 years. Painkillers should be kept nearby. Doxycyclene for Lymes Disease will (effectively) last 2 years. Some Pharmacies may have Mepron which is for Malaria.
- Treat every wound as if it's going to infect and kill you. Alcohol Wipes and Topical Antibiotics in small packets are long-lasting as well.
- ALWAYS BRUSH YOUR TEETH. Learn to brush your teeth with Baking Soda. Toothpastes will inevitably harden in their tubes or liquify into an unusable congealment. There are no dentists anymore. If you get a cavity, you're probably screwed bigtime and will need to take care of it yourself.
- Hone your skills. You're now the worlds only Mechanic, Electrician, Farmer, Hunter, Gatherer and Doctor. Books are a remarkable resource.
Phase 5 - Recreation
- Find the closest highway and burn all the gasoline you can syphon out of all the cars around in a Maserati, Ferrari or Ford Focus by risking your fucking life. This insane maneuver might help you keep some sanity... but in 2-years-time gasoline will have gone stale and most cars will sit where they were.
- There are some propane based cars and Go-Karts. Offhand, I don't know where I'd find one around here so I'm in a bad position... the internet will be down and "propane go-karts" won't be found in phone books.
Phase 6 - Keep your mind busy
- Write about what you've done. Every day. Write your thoughts, your transgressions, your hopes, your angers. As you fill books, put them in some permanent enclosure of sorts, sheltered from the elements.
- Gather up Atlases, Medical Books, Dictionaries, Encyclopedias, Put them all in the same place. Who knows what evolution has in store? Perhaps in a couple hundred million years, some badger learns to make fire and read. It's your legacy and you can't accept the fact that this is the end of intelligent life. Write for them. Explain what transpired. If only to keep your mind busy and your heart steady.
Final Phase - Seal your fate.
You are the last of your kind. Evolution may replace humans with another Sentient Creature capable of interpreting the past, but for now, this is it. As representative for humanity, you do not want to suffer. No sense in bleeding to death over the course of several days pinned underneath a mountain of rubble.
- Always have the ability to kill yourself nearby. Holster a classy 6-shooter in your shoulder, at your ankle or your hip at all times.