If you are one of the 80.7% of Americans that live in an urban environment it is important to look at the unique challenges present in city living when making your preparedness plan. In this article we are going to look at a few of the most important urban-specific challenges and show you how you can plan around them to ensure you thrive when the next disaster strikes.
Challenge 1: Packing an urban specific survival kit
Most survival planning and bug out bags you see out there are designed with the intention of surviving in the wilderness for days or weeks. They will be loaded with gear that has no usefulness in an urban landscape.
When packing your urban bug out bag make sure you carefully consider each item for its utility in an urban survival situation. Here is some urban specific gear that you can consider adding:
Pry tool – For search and rescue, moving debris out of your path, and scavenging food
Personal Protective Equipment – An urban disaster zone will be full of dust, smoke, and other airborne debris. Preserve your eyes, lungs, and ears by packing gear that will protect them.
Emergency Radio – If you are near an urban center you will have access to NOAA radio broadcasts that can keep you informed of the developing disaster and recovery.
Self Defense Item – Urban centers obviously have a higher population density which means you are far more likely to encounter other survivors. If they are unfriendly or looking to steal some of your carefully planned survival gear, you will want to discourage them, forcefully if need be. This leads us to our next point…
Challenge 2: Be prepared to deal with other survivors
The densely populated nature of our urban centers will mean that after a disaster there will be a great many other survivors that you will encounter. You should be prepared to deal with both friendly and unfriendly people as you make your way to safety.
Unfriendly survivors should be avoided like the plague, but if it looks like you need to come into contact consider the following:
Try to be a grey man if possible. Do not give away that you have a bug out bag packed full of survival gear, this will make you a target of opportunity.
If confronted, have a self defense item at the ready. This should be something you are comfortable with and able to use. Firearms, pepper spray, and slingshots are all good options. Melee weapons can also be considered but will be of limited usefulness when wielded by a smaller person.
Travel in a group whenever possible. A single person traveling alone is a far easier target than a group.
Friendly survivors should be approached cautiously, you never know when an encounter with a stranger may turn desperate. However, meeting friendly survivors provides some of the best chances to both gain information and barter for food, water, or gear that you may need. In order to barter well you will need some desirable items to trade. Any of the following make good barter items as they are small, lightweight and have a high barter value in a disaster zone:
- Lighters or matches
- Water purification tablets
- Band aids
Challenge 3 – Take advantage of the resources around you
A big advantage that an urban survival scenario has over a wilderness one is the availability of resources spread throughout the area. There should be many places to scavenge for food including abandoned stores, warehouses, and homes. Water should be easily obtainable from water towers and fire hydrants. Shelter should be easy to come by as well. You can rest or sleep in any abandoned building or build you own shelter out of easily scavenged building materials.
Finding these 3 basic necessities – food, water, and shelter should be relatively easy, at least in the early days after a disaster. With those basic needs out of the way you should be able to focus your energy on the recovery efforts.
Challenge 4 – 2 Plans are better than one
When making your bug out plan for an urban location it is best to have 2 main options scoped out. One is to evacuate. This however becomes nearly impossible if you are unable to execute it within the first hours of a disaster. Exit routes become hopelessly clogged with other evacuees or may even be closed as a part of the disaster response. The lesson here is to either be a first mover or plan on riding out the storm.
If you miss your window of opportunity to bug out you should have an option in your plan to shelter in place. It is essential to stock your home with food and water supplies to last as long as you think you need to. Based on the threats you are facing this may range from a couple days to over a month. Carefully consider your options and stock up accordingly.
Investing in a generator will keep the lights on and your refrigerator running as long as you can top up fuel. Maintaining a balcony or rooftop garden can also help extend the amount of time that you can remain self sufficient.
Surviving in the urban landscape
As you can see there are some unique challenges present in the urban landscape but with some careful planning you can easily overcome them. As always, assess the threats you are most likely to face and make your plan and survival kit tailored to what will be most helpful to YOUR individual situation. Good luck prepping!