More than half of the world’s population resides in urban areas – mostly densely populated cities. If you are reading this article, that means you are also from a densely populated urban area, looking for ways to prepare yourself for any urban crisis or natural disaster.
In times of crisis or disaster, urban areas and their residents are most affected as few or no natural resources are available to survive. Moreover, other than electricity, food, and water, there are several security threats that are always there during times of crisis.
To help everyone living in an urban area, we have compiled a complete guide to urban survival strategies. Let’s discuss everything from preparing for an urban survival to the skills you may need to survive.
Can You Survive an Urban Crisis?
To survive an urban emergency or disaster, it is important to be mentally prepared about what you may face during your survival. Let’s be honest; it is easier to talk about urban survival; however, it is pretty challenging when one faces it in real life.
You may have a plan in your mind; for example, you have your survival bag packed. When the disaster hits, you grab that bag and move to a safe place. But the reality is far different from this; when a disaster strikes, everyone will try to escape and flee to a safe place, you will encounter a mess, chaos, and even mass hysteria. In such situations, the traffic may get worse, and the communication can also be dead altogether.
Now, ask yourself: are you prepared for such circumstances? Most probably, you are not. There are significant risks of being stuck in the urban setting, and you may not even be able to move to a safer and more secure place as fast as possible. Therefore, it is important to prepare for every situation and whatever circumstances you may get stuck in.
What Factors to Consider While Prepping?
Urban survival preps are not like packing for traveling. The primary purpose of such preparations is to make sure that you can survive in harsh circumstances. Some factors must be considered while preparing for urban survival. Following is a list of things you should keep in mind while making all the preparations:
1. The Population Density and the Difference It Makes
The population density has a lot to do with urban survival prepping. You should know the average population density of the city you live in, as it will affect everything you do in times of crisis.
A city with a higher population density is more likely to be in chaos when the disaster arrives. If you are a metropolis resident, you need to prepare a proper plan to avoid riots or crowds.
Moreover, never depend upon the government to provide help or send relief goods. You need to be self-reliant and help yourself to survive. Make sure you are in a safe place with enough emergency supplies so you don’t have to struggle for basic needs.
During times of crisis, you can never expect your mobile phone to work properly. In situations of urban disasters, phone lines can get congested and become useless. Along with that, the internet and credit/debit card lines also go down, making everything useless.
Ask yourself, do you have some cash stash and a communication plan to help you in such situations? If not, make sure you have it now.
3. Transportation and Avoiding Riots/Lootings
Most cities rely the most on public transportation systems. However, the sad part is that these are the first ones to become useless when disaster strikes. So make sure you have enough fuel stocked to drive your vehicle.
Along with that, when you are moving to a safe place, you will have to ensure your security and safety too. Don’t be shocked when people start looting, as it is normal for everyone to panic in such situations, and we all know that disasters can make even good people turn bad. Therefore, learn how to protect yourself, your people, and your supplies in such times.
What and How to Store for Urban Survival?
Storing the essential items can be hard because of the limited space; however, one can store enough supplies to stay alive if done properly. Following is a list of essential things that one must store for urban survival situations:
1. Food Stash
Usually, it is advised to store food that would last for at least two weeks. However, you never know how long a situation may last, so we advise that food for at least four to six weeks must be stored.
Food that can last longer, such as canned goods, dried food, preserved meat, MREs, etc., are the best options to store in times of disaster. If you are low on space, make sure the food you are storing is high in calories. Moreover, you may also want to store food items that don’t need any further preparation, for example, dehydrated fruits, ready-to-eat-survival bars, canned meat and beans, jerky, peanut butter, etc. Such foods are high in calories and can provide instant energy as you wouldn’t need to cook them.
To keep the food safe, you can use food-grade buckets with oxygen absorbers, as they help increase the shelf life of the food items. If possible, store your food in different places, such as under the bed, cabinets, shelves, drawers, and even your wardrobe. You can also build a prepper pantry for emergency food storage.
Make sure you have your food stock secured and away from the eyes of other people. As we mentioned earlier, keeping your stash safe is as important as keeping you and your family safe in times of crisis.
A normal human being can survive without food for about two weeks but only last 3 to 4 days without water. It can be pretty hard to find clean drinkable water when a disaster strikes, which is why it is important to store water beforehand.
Water shortage is vital, whether it is a natural disaster or an apocalypse, and the importance of stocking up drinkable water stays relevant. Other than drinking, water is necessary for hygiene purposes.
It is recommended to stock up to 2 gallons for one person per day. You can use BPA-free containers, bottles, and buckets to store water. If you don’t have access to any water resources, the store-bought water bottles will work just fine, as they are sealed, easy to carry, and purified. The only downside to store-bought water is that it’s too expensive for a crisis.
If there is a shortage of space to store water, you can fill up your bathtub before the water supply stops completely. You can also set up a rain catchment system to store the water that can be used for hygiene purposes when it rains. It is great if you have a water filter with you, you can even filter this water and drink it.
3. Communication Sources
When such circumstances arise, it is most likely for your mobile phone signals, internet, and landlines to vanish completely. You don’t want to lose connection with your family or partners in such times, which is why it is important to keep some alternative sources such as a walkie-talkie or extra batteries for your mobile phone (if the signals are still available). Moreover, make sure that you and your family members have a designated point where you can meet or go if any of you gets separated.
4. Cooking and Illumination
The food you store will be of no use if you have no way to cook it. While prepping for an urban crisis, make sure you have some source of light and fuel to keep your space illuminated and cook food.
It is better to store food items that do not need to be cooked or additional preparation, such as survival bars, canned meat, beans, jerky, etc. However, if you don’t have enough of such food, a mini rocket stove should work just fine.
A mini rocket stove is excellent for blackouts, camping, and other situations where you don’t have access to a proper kitchen for cooking food. You can cook some simple survival foods on these stoves. Moreover, these stoves work on biofuel, which is why they are hotter and burn cleaner than standard stoves.
If you live in a colder city, staying warm is also important. You can use the stove as a heater, but saving fuel and keeping your house completely closed is better. Staying in one room together is another way to keep the room warm.
To illuminate your space at night, make sure you have an emergency light or torch fully charged at all times. Candles are also a great alternative for keeping your space illuminated. However, there is always risk in using them.
5. Medication and First Aid Kit
Medication and first aid kit are the most important in such situations. You won’t be able to reach a hospital or consult a doctor immediately if you or one of your companions gets injured.
Make sure you have an emergency first aid kit ready at all times. Some important things that you must keep in the first aid kit include bandages, plasters (different shapes and sizes), sterile gauze dressings, sterile disposable gloves, safety pins, cleansing wipes, scissors, tweezers, thermometer, antiseptic cream, distilled water, painkillers, cream/spray for insect bites, and antihistamine tablets/cream.
Other than this, make sure you have stocked up your essential medications, i.e., diabetes, blood pressure, or other chronic diseases, before the disaster strikes. Lastly, make sure you know about natural infection fighters, which can help you when you don’t have access to your first aid kit or medication.
6. Prepare but Look Unprepared
During an urban crisis or natural disaster, everyone will go into a panic mode. In such circumstances, if you are fully prepared for urban survival, make sure you are not advertising your preparations. Telling others about your stash, reserved water, fuel, or anything necessary for your and your family’s survival is like asking them to attack and steal it all from you.
Keeping everything private and hidden is all you need to do. Behave like you haven’t prepared anything either and collect whatever comes to your part so that you can add those things to your stash too.
Make sure you stay blended among the crowd so that you are not stranded alone. The trick is to become the “Gray-man,” i.e., stay with the crowd, yet hide your belongings and skills until you or your family need them. Using a school backpack or a grey or black bag to gather and keep your supplies will keep you out of the sight of looters.
The Urban Survival Kit and Essential Tools to keep in it
While prepping for urban survival, buying or making your own urban survival kit is necessary. Urban survival kits include everything necessary for any emergency circumstances. Before we start discussing what items should be in an urban survival kit, we need to talk about the three types of urban survival kits that one must have.
1. EDC Kit (Everyday Carry kit)
This type of urban survival kit should be part of everything that you normally carry, all the time, i.e., things in your pockets, purse, wallet, lanyard, or bag pack.
An EDC kit is supposed to be compact and small, and large or heavy things are difficult to carry along every day. Moreover, it should contain all the basic tools one may need in daily life, such as medicine or safety pins.
2. GHB Kit (Get Home Bag)
A GHB kit is something that is kept either in an office locker or in the car. It is meant to allow people to survive while they are from home. A GHB kit must include things such as a sleeping kit, first aid kit, food, water, and weather protection, as these kits come into use during major emergencies.
3. Bug Out Bag
A bug-out bag is specifically prepared and kept at home for situations when evacuating the city becomes necessary. These bags also include everything from a first-aid kit to a sleeping kit to survive during crisis times.
What to Include in Urban Survival Kits?
While preparing any kind of urban survival kit, a foldable knife is a must-have. It works as an all-purpose tool and can also stay hidden due to its compact size. However, carrying a foldable knife in an EDC kit can be an issue due to the legal restrictions upon carrying any kind of blade in public.
To stay safe in times of chaos, a Taser is the most accessible safety equipment to keep. In any urban emergency, you may face situations where you need to attack someone for self-defense; this is where the stun gun comes in handy. A high-voltage stun gun can yield up to 30,000 volts, which is enough to send someone into partial paralysis
A flashlight, both mini and standard sized, is essential to be kept in all of your survival kits. For the EDC kit, you can get a mini flashlight, while for others, get a flashlight with better battery life.
Yes, we mentioned that one should have a mini rocket burner for harsh situations, but what if you don’t have access to it while escaping or evacuating the city? This is why it is important to keep a fire starter in your survival kit, as they are compact and way better than matches.
Water filters are essential for survival kits, as you never know when and where you will need water. You cannot be sure about the water from several resources to be clean enough to be drinkable; that’s when you wish to have a personal water filter. Water filters can kill up to 99.99% of bacteria or any other germs present in water. A good filter can filter up to 1,000 liters of water, so keeping one personal filter in your survival kit should work just fine.
Emergency blankets are light metal-coated sheets, which can keep one warm in cold weather. They were primarily made for space travel, but now, they can be kept as a survival tool.
Keep at least two or three water bottles in all your survival kits. You never know when you may run out of your water stock or any other natural resources. By keeping a few water bottles in your survival kits, you can save up a little time for you to find a new source of water.
- Calorie Packed Lightweight Food
You shouldn’t put too much food in your survival bags. Instead, keep calorie-packed lightweight food items, such as energy bars, hard candies, trail mix, or other packed snacks. Remember that you only need food that will help you get to a safer and more permanent place.
The Skills Everyone Should Learn For Urban Survival
Collecting food, water, and other essentials is important, and learning survival skills is extremely important. Following is a list of skills one must learn for survival:
- Lock Picking
Urban areas have lots of buildings with lots of locks. In a disaster scenario, picking locks and entering a safe space can save you and your family. It is advised to brush up on your lock picking skills and keep a portable lock picking kit along with your emergency goods.
- Escaping Riots
No sane person would like to be stranded in a riot in an urban area, so it is important to know how to escape one. Riots can be very dangerous, and one can find it impossible to escape a riot at times.
In times of disaster, it is important to know how to save yourself from uninvited dangers. Whether you are a man, woman, or teenager, it is necessary for you to learn self-defense, even in normal circumstances.
- Blending In
Blending can save one from the horrors of being stranded or being watched by others. One must learn to hide in plain sight to stay safe. Blending in is sometimes underrated. However, it is the best way to ensure that you or your family is not the target of any danger.
Scavenging is a mindset more than a skill. You should be able to know where and when you can find certain supplies in times of disaster.
Navigation may not be considered an important skill by many, but the truth is, it is something that can have you out of hell and reach heaven. If you know how to navigate, you are most probably already halfway out of the troubled area.
What would you do if you have a vehicle and plenty of fuel but don’t know how to drive? Yes! All those resources will go to waste. Driving is a mandatory skill that everyone should learn even if the circumstances are normal; there can be some emergency when you need to be somewhere as fast as possible. The truth is that public transport wouldn’t help in such situations.
Some Urban Survival Tips and Tricks
If you find yourself in a situation where urban survival becomes necessary, make sure to follow these tips and tricks, as they can be quite beneficial in emergencies.
- If Renting, Rent Near Your Workplace
If you are renting a home, it would be better if you find a place near your workplace. During times of unrest, you either bug in or bug out, and a home close to your workplace will allow you to reach a safe place as fast as possible. Moreover, when a crisis arises, public transports are the first one to go down; having a house close to your workplace will allow you to reach home without any public transport and of course, you will save money too.
- Learn About all the Escape Routes
Knowing about all the routes of bugging out is maybe the best favor you can do to yourself. There are always some secondary routes to every place, and one should know about them, as when the crisis strikes, the main routes are jammed and blocked. An easy way is to take different routes every time; this way, you will learn the bug-out routes easily.
- Do Not Fight Until Necessary for Self-Defense
A crisis in an urban area itself is a mess, and you wouldn’t want to get into more trouble by getting in fights. Make sure you and your family stay calm and do not involve in any kind of fight unless someone has entered your house or apartment forcibly.
- Start Hoarding Water As Soon As There Are Any Signs of Blackout
If you know or have gotten any signs of a blackout, make sure you hoard as much water as possible. In such situations, the bathtub can be beneficial as you can store water in it. Do it even if you think the blackout will only last a few hours; it’s just good for you and your family.
- Rent a Storage Space
If you can rent a storage space, do it as soon as possible. It will work as a backup stockpile of food and water for the hard days.
- Always Carry a Handkerchief or Mask
Whenever you need to go out, make sure you have a mask or handkerchief with you. You don’t want to get yourself stuck in smoke or tear gas.
- Hide Your Guns and Walkie-Talkie Properly
If you don’t have such things hidden properly, make sure you do because when the disaster strikes, everyone needs such stuff. People who hadn’t prepared for these things may come after you to snatch yours. It is better to tuck such things under your shirt and make sure there are no signs of you having any gun or walkie-talkie.
- Keep At least One Backup Survival Weapon
Folding knives, Tasers, stun guns, and pepper sprays are what we are talking about. Other than keeping a gun, make sure you have at least one of these with you. You never know when you might need one.
- Go Solar
Solar chargers, backpacks with built-in solar chargers, solar lights, and other solar appliances are the best gadgets one can get for times of crisis. During blackouts, power outages, and bugging out such appliances are what you may need the most, as you can charge them in the morning and use them at night.
- Stay Away From Windows and Keep them Locked
Windows and doors should stay locked, and one must stay away from them too. Don’t bother to go near windows to see what is happening outside. Instead, turn on the radio or television, but keep the volume low. Sounds from your apartment can give you in and attract people.
Surviving a natural disaster or an emergency situation is not easy. However, being prepared for such situations can keep you and your family alive and safe while others are still managing to survive. Having access to essential items and being safe is all one needs to survive. We hope that this guide would be helpful for people trying to prepare for harsh circumstances.