I was once asked to teach more about urban survival “because all anyone ever says is that you have to get out of the city when disaster strikes.” I also came across a radio show host who ostensibly discusses urban survival every week on her show. Well, I hope she’s got a very creative mind because if I were to address “urban survival” it would last about one hour, because frankly, there’s no such thing as urban survival folks. When it comes to dealing with a bona fide disaster, you need to get out of the city, plain and simple. This means that there’s a reason why you “only hear instructions to get out of the city when disaster strikes assuming you expect to last longer than a couple of weeks, at best. The problem, though, is that the longer you wait to get out of the city, the more dangerous your exit will be and the more problems will confront you as well.
Sorry. This isn’t exactly what you countless city-dwellers want to hear, I’m sure, but it’s a fact. (suburban dwellers don’t have it a whole lot better either.) The reason being is that when it comes to living without the standard systems of utilities and law in place, urban and suburban places become a playground for disease, lawlessness, and famine. Plain and simple. Since 2007, for the first time in history, more than half of the human population lives in an urban environment. So I realize that this article isn’t exactly “happy news” to the majority of you, but then again, that’s what makes it that much more necessary. Such statics mean that in dire circumstances you’ll be surrounded by more death, more disease, more crime, more want, more waste, and more desperation—none of which is ideal for safe and comfortable self-reliant living.
Of course I’m referring to challenges on a large scale such as a massive earthquake, power outage, pandemic, or financial collapse. But even some of the more common crisis’ such as unemployment and long-term illness may be better dealt with further from the city due to decreasing costs of living, less pollution and other such benefits. But the focus of my article today is in dealing with the realities of a disaster that Mother Nature or perhaps an act of war would force you to face in your area.
Sustainable Food Sources: thanks to our excellent transportation system in this nation, every grocery store refurbishes every 24-36 hours nowadays. (it used to be 72 hours) this means that in an urban environment you will have LESS THAN 30 minutes to get to a store, get what you want, pay for it with cash, and clear out safely. A store is the LAST place you want to be in such circumstances. Sure, Hollywood “end of day” movies always end up showing a city becoming desolate with plenty of food and water to loot by survivors, but the fact of the matter is, it’s not sustainable. At some point you will run out of such resources and it’s not likely that you’ll be able to create enough food on the cement deck of your apartment to feed your family indefinitely. This is one of the primary reasons why leaving the city life behind is vital. You’ll need to find your way to an area in which you can create a more sustainable food source in addition to the supplies that you’ve built up during your pro-active self-reliance times.
Sanitation: If there’s any kind of disruption of services then sanitation in close quarters will be a proverbial death trap. You simply will not be able to take care of your waste for long before it becomes a part of your living quarters; or at the very least becomes a flag to marauding looters that you exist. If you can’t flush your waste then what are you going to be able to do with it when you’re surrounded by concrete and asphalt? After only 72 hours of losing sanitation services you will likely face some serious consequences. Yet, one more reason to get out of Dodge as soon as you even suspect there will be a problem or breakdown in services. The more dense a population is, the faster a problem will spread, whether it be a pandemic, fire, panic, etc.
Crime: Criminals always take the path of least resistance. So lets say you are prepared with the butane stove with enough butane to cook a couple meals a day for a year, the fact is, as the survivors around you diminish and as the loot becomes more scarce, a warm can of Chef Boyardee is going to give away your inconspicuous living and your safety. Lights seen through your window or smoke exuding from your chimney will only serve to mark you as a target for the desperate criminals, with no law to protect or defend you. Even if you’re well armed with some sort of protection against incidental problems, you will not be able to hold off determined criminals for long. They will simply keep coming back with more until they have just the right number of allies to overpower you. I hate to say this, because it’s not exactly a peaceful thought, but it’s very naïve to think that such persons are only interested in your food or medicines you might have on hand. You simply cannot afford to underestimate the extent of evil that’s possible in desperate people.
Water: Frankly, it’s challenging enough to find room for all of my water storage in a suburban home with a decent sized yard. It’s unfathomable to me to conceive of proper water availability in a city dwelling. Unless your last name is Trump, it’s unlikely that you benefit from a large enough space in which to store sufficient water supplies for a long-term challenge, and yet you simply cannot survive with good mental faculties without it. Yet one more reason why you've got to move to more spacious areas where you're likely to find more natural sources of water (such as dried creek beds, dew on the leaves) or wells and cisterns.
Transportation: Bottom line, there has never been an example of necessary mass migration that has gone peacefully in the history of our nation. I watched a television series called “Survivors” some time ago. The premise was that a virus spread quickly throughout the world killing the majority of all populations. But for some reason the directors showed the aftermath of such a crisis with vacant streets and freeways almost everywhere. There is not a single fathomable crisis in which this is likely. Whether it’s an EMP, earthquake, or pandemic, you will not find yourself with free reign to travel on the roads as you see fit. Thus the sooner you make the decision to evacuate the better before gridlock compounds your problem of safety; and I would certainly be sure to be very familiar with the back roads instead of the main roads as well. Keep your fuel tank full as much as possible (and always above half at least) with an extra canister of fuel that you rotate each time you fill up, plus keep your car in good working condition, complete with a spare tire and the skills to change it. You never know when your life might depend on it. I also am consistent in plugging my cell phone in the charger in the car when I get in, even though it doesn’t need it. Why? Because if I do run into trouble I want to have the strongest possible battery in the event I’ve got to go a long time without the opportunity to recharge. I also keep at least a gallon of water handy in my car as well. During the summer some of the water in the jug dissipates, but I am certain to always refill it. Understand that there may very well come a time when travel is forbidden under the “wrong” circumstances. This is yet another reason why getting out of the city sooner rather than later is a favorable strategy. Keep in mind that any plan to relocate elsewhere must be supplemented by the resources you need to do so. A half tank of gas won’t get you from Ohio to Idaho, of course, and it’s unlikely that in such a scenario you’ll have unfettered access to more fuel. So either plan on taking your needed fuel with you, or be sure your place of refuge is realistic for the distance you’re able to travel safely in your vehicle or on foot—which brings a whole other set of considerations—tune in later for more on this topic.
Medical: While you may feel some semblance of comfort now by living close to the pharmacy, understand that such will do you no good in a disaster scenario. Please do not live your life now planning on the pharmacy being a part of your “plan.” Always fill your regular prescriptions as early as you are able so that you can slowly build up a reserve for your necessary daily medications. The hospitals and doctors office may bring you peace of mind now, but in a crisis they will be nothing short of a death trap for you. And the longer you stay in the city environment, the more you will be exposed to whatever illness, mayhem, or death that will transpire. So you must get out in order for you to have the best medical chance of survival. This necessitates you having a working knowledge of how to best care for you and your family in the absence of a doctor and to stock up on alternative medical resources. (One of the biggest reasons that I’ve studied essential oils and nutrition for so long.) You also must be mindful of what supplies you need in order to protect yourself from exposure to any viruses, bacteria, or molds that will be stirred up in such circumstances, even if it is not already the cause of such a crisis. Air masks, latex gloves, aspirin/acetaminophen, etc. will all be necessary for ANY mass crisis. While you may not have a lot of these kinds of supplies in a “Bug Out Bags” I suggest you storing these kinds of items in larger containers that you can easily grab on your way out.
The solution? Always be sure that you never allow your gas levels in your vehicles to go below the half way mark. That way you’ll at least have some fuel to get out of the city without having to fight with the masses for fuel on your way out. Be sure you have plenty of supplies in your “Bug Out Bags” (see complete list here) and that you also keep one inside your vehicle in the event that you are not able to get to your home before it becomes evident that you aren’t able to return to your home. (Think of the folks who were coming home after their homes had already been cordoned off for flood control or because of a forest fire. They couldn’t even get to their “72 hour kit”. You want to at least give yourself a fighting chance with what you’ve got in your car.) Pre-Plan with your family and friends with an action plan that you will implement in order to relocate elsewhere in the event of an emergency. Have a Plan A and a Plan B and even a Plan C. Be sure you, your family members, and close friends are all familiar with the contingency plan for when you are displaced from your city home and most importantly be sure that ALL of your family members are aware of this plan in the event you get separated for whatever reason. (I also suggest that you have password phrases which you use to communicate with one another when the launching such a plan is appropriate. If such an option is not viable for you then I suggest you make friends with the likeminded folks who are a part of our blog here or our Facebook Group as well as other similar groups available throughout the internet.
Yes, you and your family can easily endure a week or two in the city presuming that the utilities and government systems stay in place, but if there’s any doubt in your mind that such will be the case, it’s vital that you get out of Dodge sooner rather than later.
Ok. So this wasn’t exactly the most peaceful article I’ve written over the years, and perhaps that’s why I haven’t written much on it sooner, but the conversations I’ve had with the majority of my friends and family lately have provided me with the urging I needed to write this out. I still feel strongly though that even a scenario like this can be converted from an “emergency” to an uncomfortable transition in our life if we prayerfully prepare today for the possibility of such circumstances now.
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