If you live in a big city and you’ve been reading about survival, you know by now that it will be harder to evacuate from in case of an emergency than if you lived in the suburbs or in a small town. All you have to do is look at recent events in Europe to see this is true.
The capital city of Belgium, Brussels, was under lockdown for days in 2015, with tanks patrolling the streets and people being forced to stay inside. All of this because of a single terrorist who was on the loose after the Paris attacks of November 2015.
The city of Koln, Germany, was the scene of a mass-sexual assault by people who have now been confirmed to be migrants, causing over 100 women to file complaints. All of this was happening on New Year’s.
Now, terrorist attacks and riots aren’t the only things that might get you to bug out. Whatever shape the next disaster will take, riots, traffic jams and checkpoints will make it hard for you to escape. If preppers living in small towns or on ranches prefer to bug in in case something happens, city dwellers may not have that luxury.
So let’s see what some of the things you can do are. First off, you need to assess your current situation. Proper planning will save you a lot of headaches later on and prevent faulty survival plans. Some of the questions to ask yourself are:
- How many people are there in your household?
- Do you have small children, elders or people with handicaps?
- Do you live downtown or in a somewhat remote neighborhood?
- Do you have a bug out location to go to?
- Do you have a bug out vehicle you can take?
In general, when things start to happen, you’ll only have a small window of opportunity to react. The actions you’d typically take (in order) are:
- Make sure you’re out of immediate danger.
- Contact your family to see if they’re ok and discuss how and where you’ll meet.
- Get home to get your loved ones, your bug out bag and your car.
- Bug out by choosing a bug out route that safe (either on foot or using a bug out vehicle such as a car or a bike).
Points 1 – 3 are not really within the scope of this article so let’s focus on point #4. You’re going to need a few things ready:
- Each family member should have his own bug out bag (even your dog, if you have one).
- You should all have everyday carry items with you at all times. You’d be amazed at the number of survival items you can have on your keychain or in your wallet: multi-tools, mini-flashlights, mini first aid kits, self-defense weapons, a compass, fire starters and even a whistle!
- You should have printed maps of the area with all possible ways out. The main arteries will most likely be crowded with people trying to get out so knowing alternate routes is a must.
- Have a bug out location nearby. When I say nearby, I mean anywhere from 20 to 100 miles, but if you’re planning to get there on foot, 100 miles will take you days. In fact, I suggest you have several BOLs, maybe you have a friend or relative in a nearby town where you can go to in case of emergency? If so, you should print out their phone number and make sure every family member has it, as that person can act as your out-of-town emergency contact.
- Don’t forget to always keep your tank of gas as full as possible. At the very least, you should have enough to get you to your retreat.
Now, assembling a bug out bag or choosing a bug out location are beyond the scope of this article. What I want to talk about are some specific things to do when it’s time to flee.
- Bug out at night if possible. In case of riots or war, the hours between 2 and 5 AM are usually the most quiet. You’ll be sure to avoid traffic jams this way but not security checkpoints. You should be informed about where those are so you can avoid them.
- If the disaster won’t allow you to wait, you should quickly decide whether you can go on foot or by car. Expect to ditch your vehicle at any moment and continue your journey on foot.
- If you have time, throw in as many supplies and valuables in your car as you can. Ideally, you should have them ready to go.
- Make sure you already have a car bug out bag, loaded with supplies.
- Be very careful as you’re advancing. The key is to not be seen, day or night. If it’s night-time, I suggest you avoid using flashlights. If you’re moving by day, make sure you do it in a way which doesn’t attract attention (dress generically and drive slowly).
- You can’t take everyone with you (friends, co-workers) so, unless you really have the room and supplies, you shouldn’t do it. I know it sounds harsh but you may be putting your own life in danger by doing so. I’m not saying you’ll have to do it, I’m saying it’s a possibility.
- Expect to be separated from your family, particularly if you’re bugging out on foot. To prevent this, make sure you all have walkie-talkies, extra cell-phone batteries and chargers, maps of the area, rally points and that everyone knows how to get to the bug out location, whether by car or by foot.
Can you be ready 100% for urban disasters?
I would say “no” but that doesn’t mean you should stop. Every little thing you do towards being better-prepared counts, even if it’s something as simple as taking a first aid course or buying a hand crank AM/FM radio. The most important thing is to get started and remember that planning and knowledge can often trump the most sophisticated survival gadget.