Just read a great article by Dale Martin over at Survivalblog.com. I don’t know if his facts and figures are correct (less than 2% of the population has any preps?) but his advice for beginners is spot on. I suggest you peruse it, copy it, and read it again.
One thing Dale talks about is the necessity of little successes after a collapse event. Most of the country would be in panic. A moderately prepared person will go a while longer before truly panicking because they are eating, drinking and are secure. If you have to bug out of your home, even a moderately prepared person can last in the wild for some time before really starting to panic.