Emergency Kits for Urban Survival

No matter where a person lives, there is always a possibility of a catastrophe or disaster which can result in the need to evacuate or hunker down for an extended time. During this sort of situation, it can be necessary to have items available that might not be needed in everyday life, as much. Having an urban emergency preparedness kit set aside for such events is a wise plan.

In the case of a disaster of epic proportions, those who live in a city are at a greater risk than those who live in rural areas, simply due to the limited natural resources. In the country, there are plants to forage that can feed and medicate and fresh water (or at least water that can be freshened) in streams and rivers. In the city, these things are less plentiful and if the city water becomes contaminated – or worse, stops running – that can be much more difficult to obtain.

People know that being prepared is the best option. However, wanting to be prepared can be difficult when one does not know what might happen. The question one might ask is, “What should I put into an urban survival kit?”

There are three different types of kits for urban survival. It is a good idea to create each of them for each person in the household.

Everyday Carry (EDC)

This is a kit to carry along every time you are anywhere (with the possible exception of overnight in bed). These are things that are likely to be used often but may also include a few things for just in case something bad happens.

Some things should be included in this kit regardless where one lives.

  • A folding knife (remember to check state and local regulations) is a staple. There are often reasons to use a folding knife, from cutting strings or zipties to cutting food.
  • A mobile phone is a must for communication. It is a good idea to have an extra in case something happens to the primary phone. Including a power bank or solar charger in case electricity is scarce is also wise.
  • A fire starter – not a lighter, though that and matches could be included, too – but a flint and steel or ferro rod or magnesium fire starter. These fire starters do not run out of fuel as quickly and can be used in almost any weather.
  • A stun gun or taser can be handy for disabling attackers if it is necessary. This could include wildlife, which could encroach on city property in a catastrophic event. Some states have restrictions on these devices, however, so be sure to check local laws and ordinances.
  • Multitools combine a variety of useful tools into one handy item. Including one of these will take care of things like screwdrivers, small wrenches, and many others.
  • A flashlight that is small but bright will provide needed light when power is out or when inside a dark place, to aid in finding items, walking safely, or spotting other people.
  • A paracord bracelet makes a length of rope handy and can also carry some small items such as the multitool.
  • A miniature first-aid kit with bandages, antibiotic cream, pain relievers, sanitizer, and gloves in a waterproof container fits neatly in a pocket.
  • Something to write with – a pencil, a pen, a marker – will be handy to take or leave notes.
  • Cash is good to have, because if the power grid goes down, banks will be unable to provide the money that is stored there.

Get-Home Bag (GHB)

This kit is meant to be kept at work or wherever the day is spent when one is away from home every day. The items in this kit are geared toward promoting safe return from work to home. This list assumes that an EDC is already in use.

  • A larger flashlight than is used in the EDC, especially a tactical version, will not only aid in getting home by lighting the way, but can also aid in getting through some obstacles that may be in the way.
  • An emergency blanket, just in case getting home takes longer than expected and the outdoor temperature is low.
  • A personal water filter that purifies water such as the LifeStraw will ensure potable water in most situations.
  • Water purification tablets will make larger quantities of water available quickly.
  • Safety goggles will protect eyes in the case of ashes, dust, or smoke filling the air.
  • Work gloves, thick and sturdy, will protect hands if heavy-duty tasks are necessary, such as moving debris or other similar things.
  • A rain poncho can be worn against elements but can also be used to create a shelter or catch water.
  • Respirator mask – N95 or N99 – to protect against breathing airborne contaminants.

Bug Out Bag

This is a backpack packed with things that aid in evacuation and survival after evacuating. The GHB items would also work well in this bag.

  • Maps of the local area and surrounding areas are good. Having the best routes highlighted may be useful. Because GPS might not be available, having paper maps may be required for getting where one is going.
  • A second respirator mask should be kept in this bag.
  • Duct tape has many uses, including closing food packages, repairing tarps or glass items, handcuffs if required, and other things.
  • An emergency radio, either battery powered or hand-crack powered, will keep one up to date on whatever news is available, including whether it is safe to return home.
  • Extra batteries or battery chargers for rechargeable batteries will keep those battery-powered items going. Keep these in a waterproof bag or container.
  • A USB stick (flash drive) that contains important papers and other data should be stored in a waterproof, puncture-proof, and shockproof container.
  • A water bottle and a water filter such as the LifeStraw should be in the bag. It is a good plan to also have a two-liter bottle of water in the trunk of the car.
  • Include food items such as energy bars and trail mix. While too much of this can weigh the bag down, having some can prevent starvation until more food can be obtained, whether by foraging, by purchasing, or by growing it.

Some other items that could be included in one or more of the above kits include a whistle, mace or pepper spray, some toilet paper or tissues, oral hygiene items, an eating utensil, extra socks and underwear, a jacket, handwarmers, and an opener for cans and bottles.

Keep in mind that all the gear in the world will be less helpful if the knowledge of how to use them is missing. Practice using the tools and learn how to survive for best results.