Urban Survival: When the Cities Fall Apart, These Strategies Will Keep You Alive

Collectively speaking, there are many of us who have been preparing for emergencies and have read our fair share of prepper fiction and watched enough apocalyptic thrillers to know that the higher the population density, the more dangerous it can be in a disaster. As well, when resources like food and fuel have to be transported from outside the city limits, then your survivability rate lessens. So what about those who have to live in the city? Should they just stop prepping all together? Would they stand a fighting chance at surviving?

According to the last census, 80.7 percent of the U.S. population lives in urban areas. In fact, many choose to live the higher populated areas because of better paying jobs and better school systems, so the probability of a shtf event happening while you are in the city is likely. As well, because many commuters spend a large majority of their time away from their homes, I recommend having these 20 items on hand to get you back home.

In an interview by Rory from The Daily Coin, he asked if it is possible to live out a shtf scenario in an urban setting. The answer is yes, but for a majority of us, we must ask ourselves if we are up to the challenge. Because while I do believe someone could get by in an urban setting, it could prove to be more challenging for the Average Joe.

Urban Survival – Is It Even Possible?

If you are forced to stay in the city after a disaster occurs, all is not lost. I do believe urban survival is possible, but you may need to get creative. Ultimately, being able to survive in an urban setting during a major ordeal depends on multiple factors: specifically, the type of disaster, if basic infrastructure is still up, where you are located, what you have with you and your skill sets. Moreover, I believe that whether you are surviving in an urban setting or a rural one, you need the same things for survival: food, water, shelter, protection (sound familiar?). The difference is you will need to rely more on your skills and ingenuity in finding opportunities to use to your advantage in a post-disaster city. In both scenarios, rural and urban survivors will also have to find a way to carry on for long durations. That is, when your short-term reserves are tapped out, what’s your long-term plan?

Above all, the population density will be your greatest threat and your resources will quickly be depleted. If you are not familiar with Selco’s story from SHTFSchool.com, he survived in an urban setting and tells his story and shares ways that he and others survived on his website. Some of the critical needs he outlines are:

Food – No city can feed it’s people on its own and when the supply trucks stop running, supplies will quickly be depleted. It is wise to have food on hand. I outlined 25 must-have versatile foods for your pantry.

As well, I highly recommend storing a variety of heirloom seeds. These can be to grow sprouts for emergency nutrition and for gardens for long-term food sources. You could also plant edible flowers. Not only will they be lovely to look at, but they will provide sustenance when you need it the most. Alternatively, if you can locate food packing plants or warehouses in your city, that may be a good place to allocate additional food reserves if yours runs out. This article can provide information on foraging for weeds.

Water – Municipal water sources can become tainted and it will be up to you to locate water sources. Water could look crystal clear and still contain very dangerous contaminants. – so avoid this all together and make sure you have some water stored away. Your skills will come in handy here if you are actively practicing how to survive. Here are five different ways to find water when there is none to be had. As well, consider having a map on hand of water sources in close proximity to you.

Fuel – Due to so many who are getting out of dodge and leaving the city, the fuel stores will quickly be depleted. As well, this could be problematic for running your generators. Many preppers prefer to have some alternative fuel on hand, or even biomass briquettes. Make sure you follow the proper safety guidelines for storing fuel, especially those who live in apartments.

Many suggest solar panels as a good power alternative. While I like this idea, I think it can also draw unwanted attention, so further security measures should be put in place to hide the solar panels from view.

Power – The failure of the power grid will prevent things from getting back to normal. When the majority of the population realize things aren’t going to change any time soon, and the above listed items aren’t available, there will be breakdowns to the level of social collapse. Many feel this very reason is why it’s important to be ready to bug out on a moment’s notice. If you are caught in this, it could be very dangerous.

What You Will Be Up Against

While it is entirely possible to survive in the city, you need to know what you will be up against. I realize that I am painting a very bleak picture, but those who stay behind and choose not to bug out are either under prepared, trapped in the city or have enough skills and know-how to make it on very little stored resources. The latter will not be the majority. Therefore, be prepared for roaming gangs, thugs and desperate individuals who have resorted to a more primal version of themselves. They will do what they need to in order for their needs to be met. If they haven’t eaten in days, they will smell your food from miles away, so you need to know how to mask the smells of your food or you could be welcoming unwanted visitors whose primary focus is to take what you have.

Security will be crucial in surviving in an urban setting and having a group you can depend on will make it all the more secure. Many neighbors and friends living in close proximity will band together and help to fortify the homes or find a suitable location in a higher location so you can get a bird’s-eye view of the scenery.  One aspect that the city offers is a plethora of building materials to use for fortifying a home. If you start looking for fortifying plans now, you will have a better idea on what materials you will need. I also cannot stress how important it is to have a means of protecting yourself. If someone kicks in your door, they aren’t only looking for a cup of sugar. Having a firearm and knowing how to use it could make all the difference in the world.

As well, having a keen grasp on communication skills with your group to ensure your perimeter is safe and make sure you will have alerts to possible threats. Communication is key and you should have multiple forms of communication, especially if a family or group member ends up being separated. One of the greatest threats we all face in cities are terrorist attacks. They target highly populated cities with dirty bombs and chemical weapons, and what we saw in Brussels that is can happen in peaceful cities, as well. Today it was Brussels. Where will it be the next time they hit America? Protecting yourself is the only option to ensuring your family has what it needs, including gas masks to gauge against chemical and biological attacks.

Start Finding Ways to Think Outside of the Box:

As I mentioned previously, to survive in a post-disaster urban setting, you will need to get creative in the way you work problems. Nothing should be wasted and everything could be used. Trash lying around can be repurposed and fashioned into something more useful. As well, start reading resources that can help you in your future preparations. The following books have great information on this type of survival.

SAS Urban Survival Handbook

The Prepper’s Blueprint

Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way

The human species has always found way to survive and times aren’t all that different. In order to thrive in an urban environment, you need to be aware of what’s stacked against you: the lack of resources, possible threats, roaming gangs and violence. If you can change your line of thinking, utilize key skill sets and become more fluid with the problem, your odds improve.


The Prepper's Blueprint

Tess Pennington is the author of The Prepper’s Blueprint, a comprehensive guide that uses real-life scenarios to help you prepare for any disaster. Because a crisis rarely stops with a triggering event the aftermath can spiral, having the capacity to cripple our normal ways of life. The well-rounded, multi-layered approach outlined in the Blueprint helps you make sense of a wide array of preparedness concepts through easily digestible action items and supply lists.

Tess is also the author of the highly rated Prepper’s Cookbook, which helps you to create a plan for stocking, organizing and maintaining a proper emergency food supply and includes over 300 recipes for nutritious, delicious, life-saving meals. 

Visit her web site at ReadyNutrition.com for an extensive compilation of free information on preparedness, homesteading, and healthy living.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Originally published March 23rd, 2016
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7 Responses to Urban Survival: When the Cities Fall Apart, These Strategies Will Keep You Alive

  1. Jay_Sherman says:

    The cities are mess NOW. One little blip in the system, and they will be near unlivable. A major catastrophe/economic collapse? It will be total chaos/violence/destruction. All the essentials will disappear within hours.

    Better to live in a place where you can live a nice life NOW and live apart from their system, and then you will already be prepared when the catastrophe/crash comes.

    You can not survive in the cities; you can not just pick up and go where it is safe and expect to just start living a completely different lifestyle successfully.

    And you’re probably not going to see it coming. Things have decayed so much already, but few seem to notice, because it has been gradual. When a big catastrophe/crash happens, that will happen overnight. You will wake up one morning, and suddenly you’ll be in the midst of it.

    Hah…laughing at the idea of people on three-wheelers riding down the railroad tracks! LOL! Where are they going to go? What can they take with them? And if the government goons don’t confiscate the ATVs, the ghetto-dwellers will!

    The densely populated places will be the first to go, and where the vast majority of early casualties will be.

    You’re not going to survive in the cities; and the thing is, why would you even want to be living there now? If you can’t hack living in the countrysiode NOW when it is easy-peasy, you’re not going to be able to do it under catastrophic conditions. You’d better be where you need to be NOW.

  2. 1angrywhitemale says:

    For those of us who live in urban areas and don’t have a lot of money or a bug-out place, what can we do except try to prepare for a less-than-catastrophic collapse?

    • sudyrand says:

      It doesn’t really take a lot of money to build up your food supply. What you can do is buy 2 of each item that you normally buy, i.e. food, toilet paper, shaving cream, razor blades, you get the idea. Use one, buy two and before you know it, your supplies are in and then you can prepare in other areas.

      • Jay_Sherman says:

        Where would a city-dweller keep all of that stuff? And believe me, it wouldn’t last long- even assuming you could continue living in your current house/apartment, and weren’t pilfered by the government goons or ghetto-dwellers.

        The only real preparation is to be in a place where one can live self-sufficiently, and have their own infrastructure/routine in place before the time comes in which it will be needed.

        All the preparedness or bug-out plans in the world, just aren’t going to work in reality.

    • Jay_Sherman says:

      I think for those in the cities (and being an ex-NYer, I know whereof I speak…) I actually think NOT having a lot of stuff is advantageous. You can’t take it with you, and I think a lot of people are going to be booby-trapped by their own stuff- staying where they shouldn’t, because of their unwillingness to leave the “security” of their supplies. Being mobile and able to travel with nothing would probably be the biggest advantage for a city-dweller- not that you’ll have anywhere to go or be able to gto very far, but just being able to move around to find relative safety for the particular moment, and scavenge, will be a bigger advantage than being locked into a single place “no matter what” because all of your stuff is there, or trying to travel under severe conditions with a bunch of crap. A person, just walking…able to hide at a second’s notice; able to blend in; able to take to the tunnels and small spaces, and rooftops and keep moving, will have an advantage.

  3. metroeco says:

    More powerful responses to urban collapse: http://paulglover//1606

  4. slobotnavich says:

    If you’re is really concerned about a SHTF scenario get a riot-length slide-action or automatic 12-ga. shotgun and a couple of boxes of 2 3/4″ #1 buckshot shells, learn to load and fire it, and go out to a local range and burn up a couple boxes of shells to familiarize your with its use. Unless you’re an experienced shooter forget a handgun – most people can’t hit anything with one except at near-touching distances. If you are an experienced shooter, go ahead and get yourself a powerful Magnum-caliber double-action six-gun. As a close-quarters weapon they’re far superior to autoloaders – no fumbling with safeties, having to jack a round in the chamber, just point and pull the trigger. As for having no more than six shots, if you haven’t solved the problem by then you’ve already lost the argument.

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