Urban areas and suburban fill-in present significant survival challenges to preppers. While every climate and terrain type has its share of perks and hardships, for all their technological splendor cities are among the hardest of environments to endure a SHTF event in.
Consider that more than 80% of the American population in total lives in urban centers and you’ll start to see the most pressing part of the problem. That means that when the SHTF, a hell of a lot of people are going to be stuck in the cities, right beside you; scared, panicky and scrabbling for the same dwindling pile of resources you are.
History has shown us all time and time again that densely populated areas descend in to chaos and mayhem as soon as three square meals get missed. Violence is almost a certainty, as will be lack, compared to more rural and remote areas.
Urban survival comes with a number of challenges you won’t find outside of the cities, or that are magnified inside the cities, and you need to know how to handle these challenges. With that in mind, let’s begin with the basics.
Table of Contents
The Unique Challenges of City Survival
When I say that surviving in the city has its share of unique challenges, I do not mean that the requirements of survival change. No, far from it. You’ll still need clean air, shelter, water, food and security. Coming by some of those things in an urban environment is where things get interesting compared to more classical “wilderness” survival settings.
The multiplier for your problems is simple: people! I do not mean to sound the misanthrope, but more people mean more problems in a zero-sum survival situation.
The finite, limited, local amount of resources-food, water, medical supplies, – will all be hungrily devoured by the teeming masses of people in need. Those who, unlike yourself, did not prepare for the events to come.
Cities never want to amount and variety of food so long as the cogs and gears of commerce turn round and round constantly, 24 hours a day. Water is never in short supply, so long as the incredibly complex and delicate waste and water handling systems are manned, undamaged and functional.
You can get cutting edge, state of the art medical care in any major American city, so long as the halls and wards are not clogged with masses of moaning casualties.
Combine this immense strain on resources with an effective halting of the supply of those resources and the stage is set for shortage and lack in no time flat. Major infrastructure damage will render public water unsafe to drink or questionable at best.
The loss of public sanitation workers and system will see the literal mountains of waste and trash that cities generate every minute quickly overwhelm buildings and streets. Together with the lack of water for washing you will see diseases long thought extinct burst from the pages of history to ravage the towering hives of men with a vengeance.
And escape will be far from certain, unless you are very quick on the draw and very lucky. This same gargantuan mass of people who will so hungrily snap up the last morsel of food and drop of water will also be pressing against one another in throngs trying to evacuate.
The long, tightly cordoned thoroughfares of a given city will become completely clogged with people coming and going, stopping cold your efforts to evacuate by vehicle. You might try to make it out on foot along those same paths, or snaking through the maze-like warrens of buildings, but this will have risks all its own.
Lastly, cities have long been the benchmark-setters when it comes to human violence. You can depend on it that any long or indefinite term crisis will see the going rate of violent crime skyrocket, especially assault, home invasion and theft.
You must have a plan and be prepared for defending yourself against this violence (including theft of your equipment and supplies).
Many problems inherent in survival are magnified when surviving in an urban setting. In the rest of the article, we’ll address each of these concerns and needs separately and offer you insight for dealing with the specific challenges of urban survival.
As I said above, no matter where you are, you will be prepping the same basics as everyone else. You will need food, water, medical supplies, and more.
The key difference in the city is that if you live in an apartment or another type of rental, you might have to get creative on where to store your preps. Let’s start with the basic list. You will need to store the following:
- Enough food to meet the caloric needs of every person for whom you are stocking up:
- Men (including teenagers): 2,700-3,800
- Women (including teenagers): 1,900-2,600
- Children 13 and under: 1,100-1700
- A minimum of 1 gallon (4 liters) of water per person per day (more is recommended)
- A good store of medical supplies
- Personal hygiene items
- Comfort items (such as coffee and chocolate)
- A way to manage sanitation and waste (more on this below)
- A means of communication (more on this below)
- Weapons to maintain security
Even if you have stocked up plenty of food, it will eventually be gone. If you manage to survive your six months or year without having anyone steal your preps and you have lived relatively comfortably, you will use it all up.
The backup plan in this case is to know how to hunt, forage, and grow food and all of these things can be more challenging in a crowded urban setting. Let’s take a look:
Unless you are like Will Smith in I Am Legend, chances are you don’t have herds of deer running through the downtown center of your city. Hunting within the city limits will limit you to whatever you can find that usually lives in the city.
That means a while lot of squirrel, pigeon, and rabbit (if you’re lucky). If you are able to make it to the outer edges of the city, you might have more game, such as wild turkeys and deer, but in general, your pickings will be slim. Plus, if you have been eating from your preps for a few months, a lot of these animals might already be hunted to low numbers.
Having said this, these animals can keep you fed if need be, so you should have the weapons and tools you need to kill or capture them. These include:
- Animal snares and traps
- Air rifle
- Sling shot
- A good knife
I can hear the screams of protest from here: “Trapping?! In a city?!” Yes, reader, trapping. While there might not be copious amounts of game waiting to be snared on their trails or by the local watering hole, there are all kinds of animals that can be snared or otherwise caught for food.
Mice and rats are not agreeable to Western palettes, but nonetheless are a valuable source of protein and certainly abundant in any city at any time of year.
It would pay dividends to practice capturing, killing, dressing and cooking rodent species now not only to build skills, but also to get over any latent squeamishness you might have about rodent meat.
One source of meat you must consider, no matter how awful it sounds, is that of cat and dog meat. Both are abundant all around America and the world, especially in cities, and though the thought of hurting to say nothing of eating either species of our furry friends is heartbreaking, the cold and remorseless scales of survival will suffer not the sentimental to live.
Birds can be caught as well, using traditional methods like nets or glue sticks (that is, sticks, branches or poles smeared with glue that stick the birds’ feet fast).
Trapping is a good option for city hunters since you don’t have to man a trap or risk shooting off any weapon in a densely populated area. But compared to trapping in more rural areas, you will have to be more diligent about checking and monitoring your traps; while you may have an animal caught dead to rights, it is two-legged critters you’ll have to worry about since they will fleece your traps if they get hungry.
You will need to learn well your terrain, your traps and your targets’ behavior patterns to make use of traps, just like you would in any other setting. If you plan to ride it out in the city, make sure trapping is an arrow in your prepper quiver.
You should already have a solid knowledge of what wild edible foods grow in your area. If you haven’t built this skill yet, then do it because it can literally be a lifesaver.
There are so many wild edible foods that grow within city limits, I guarantee you can go outside and find at least half-a-dozen wild edible plants within sight.
Dandelions, purslane, violets, chicory, clover, thistle (wear gloves when harvesting), wild raspberries, and garlic mustard are examples. Learn to identify these plants, when and how to harvest them, and how to prepare them.
While their raw caloric content might be piddly, they will provide essential vitamins and minerals necessary for staving off scurvy and other nutrition-deficit diseases. You can also make refreshing and healthful teas and infusions from many of these plants.
Planting a garden is critical. Seeds should be a part of your preps, and as you are eating your months’ supply of stored food, you should have a garden started so that when your food is gone, you have something to harvest.
If you have a well-concealed backyard, you might be okay, but you don’t want people to see the food you have growing. For this reason, you might want to start a hidden garden.
Another option, which is ideal if you don’t have yard space or you live in an apartment, is to grow food via indoor gardening. You can do this provided you have:
- Various size pots
- Starter soil and regular soil
- Water (see the section on Water Needs below)
- Plant food (compost works great)
- Lighting – this can be natural lighting, if you have older windows that don’t filter the sunlight or you can open the windows, or full-spectrum lights, but these will only work if you have electricity or can power them
There are a lot of different foods you can grow indoors, including:
- Green onions
- Garlic greens
Since water is one of the most important preps you will ever have, a lot more needs to be said on the subject. Dehydration is a swift and sure killer in any environment, but hot, dry environs will parch you the quickest.
Considering you are going to be doing plenty of work in the immediate aftermath of a SHTF event, that means you had better have a plan for getting enough clean water to drink, lest you pop from a lack thereof. You will also need a fair bit of water for basic hygiene and sanitation (also important concerns!) and for cooking.
You will hopefully have water stored away, but if the event that occurred lasts long enough or is permanent, then that water will run out just like the food will.
In fact, while a given city’s supply of bottled water might seem limitless on a usual day, it will evaporate nearly overnight should a major event happen that cuts off supply lines. After that, unlike normal times, you cannot simply rely on turning a knob to issue forth a stream of (nominally) clean water.
Whatever damage resulted as an immediate effect of the disaster that sent you scrambling could easily damage critically the city’s water infrastructure, either cutting off the supply entirely or tainting it, necessitating you step up your efforts to make it safe.
If you take water from a source out in nature, any except the purest and rarest, you’ll purify and sterilize it if you are smart; germs and bugs of all kinds that can make you terribly sick, even incapacitate you, live in natural water sources.
You’ll have the same mandate in the city with the added problem that chemical contamination is a much more likely occurrence in the city compared to the wilds.
Boiling water, a trusty standby for sterilizing water in the wild, will not remove most chemicals and toxins. A high-performance water filter will remove some or most, but few will remove all. Make sure you understand exactly what your water filter is capable of before this day gets here.
Scavenging water from “found” sources also presents an additional challenge in the city. Natural water might be harder to come by, but man-made sources abound.
You can’t drill a well in nearly any city, and even if you have access to a water way, such as a river, you will still need to purify it. A few good options for finding water in the city include pools, toilet cisterns, and fountains. One excellent option if you can pull it off is the collection of rainwater.
Setting up a rainwater collection system is relatively easy if you are fortunate enough to own your own home or rent a house, and can provide you with all the water you need unless you live in an arid area.
Provided you can catch the runoff from your roof, you are all set. There will be contaminants in the water regardless of the roofing material it flows over, although the safest ones are steel or glazed tiles.
No matter what building it comes off of and what the roof is made from, you will always need to filter and purify the water you catch off a building. You only need a rain barrel to collect the water and black is the best color because it will minimize the amount of sunlight that can penetrate it, in turn minimizing the growth of algae.
If you live in an apartment, then you will have to get a little more creative when harvesting rainwater. If you have a balcony, your job will be easier. You can set up a tarp on an angle or with the center cut out so that the rainwater it collects will be funneled into a large bucket.
Without a balcony, you will have to set the tarp and bucket system on the ground somewhere outside the building, on the roof (if you have access), or try to collect it from the apartment building’s waterspouts. Again, remember to filter and purify it.
Consider having a good water filtration system on hand mandatory. When collecting rainwater:
- Allow five minutes of runoff to escape before collecting the rainwater by using a first flush diverter. This early rainwater will wash away most of the contaminants.
- Allow the water to pass through a screen or other larger mesh filter to remove large debris.
- The final step is to pass the water through a good purification system.
Communicating with others during a disaster is critical to survival. You will want to know what is happening in the outside world and even across town.
You will want to be sure you can contact your family and friends and ensure that everyone knows where everyone else is and where everyone should go. There is a good chance the phones, internet, and cell phone service will be down.
If you have a ham radio, that is great, but not everyone in your group will have access to one. Walkie talkies are useful over short distances, but they might not work if you have a lot of buildings around you, which cut off a clear line of transmission for the signal.
For this reason, you have to think of forms of communication that will allow you to send a message without the need for a conversation. There are quite a few low-tech ways to do this.
Using a marker or chalk to write words or draw symbols on the sidewalk, the back of a street sign, or anywhere else you can think of. The key with this is that you have a system of symbols or words your group has agreed on and that you have preselected locations at which to leave messages.
Additionally, take care that you do not leave a message in a “busy” area for graffiti or similar messages from other people since your message might be overwritten in no time.
You can use mirrors to reflect the sunlight and send a message. It can be a simple “I’m here” or Morse code if you all know it. A flashlight can also be used in the dark.
Smoke signals sound older than the hills, and perhaps they are, but they are still useful. All you need is a grill with a cover or a blanket and you can burn paper and other material to produce smoke.
Using some sort of noise maker is a great way to communicate over shorter distances. Whether you are using a plain whistle, a bird caller, an air horn, or a drum, you can determine a system of sounds to use to pass messages back and forth.
Flares are a great way to let your people know where you are. Just keep in mind that this method of communication isn’t as subtle as some of the others and you will be letting everyone else know where you are, as well. However, in a pinch, it’s a good way to communicate.
Just remember, whatever system you use, make sure everyone connected to you, all of your family members and anyone who is part of your survival group, knows the system of communication. Everyone has to:
- Agree on the forms of communication to be used (you should set up at least three methods of communication, in case you are unable to use one of more of them)
- Know what everything means in the forms communication you have chosen (i.e. symbols, sounds, etc.)
- Have the tools or equipment on hand to communicate in the ways you have chosen
Urban Dangers and How to Handle Them
When you are in an urban center, you will be trying to survive alongside a lot of other people. How difficult that is will depend on how bad the situation is as a whole and the size and overall culture of the urban center in which you live.
There are definitely some unique dangers that you might not find or that won’t be as bad outside the cities. Essentially, these dangers have to do largely with the dense population in urban centers, something that will ultimately cause increased danger in a variety of ways.
Here are some dangers for which you need to be prepared when surviving in the city.
Unless you work from home, home school your kids, and don’t go out much in general, one situation you are likely to run into when disaster strikes an urban center is being away from home at the time.
This is often a worst nightmare for preppers, as you’ll be without the lion’s share of your gear, provisions and kit (unless you carry a Get-Home Bag, or GHB).
You need to be doubly prepared for this in an urban center since you are likely to have to make your way home on foot should your daily driver crash while out and about or your favorite taxi service suddenly decides “Freedom from this shit!” When things go bad.
Chances are you and/or at least some of your family members will not be home when disaster hits. For this reason, each person needs a packed GHB that contains the simple supplies that will keep them moving and capable while they get home safely.
The GHB contains enough a little food and water for energy and hydration, as well as a way to light a fire, a walkie talkie, flashlight, socks, good shoes for walking and running (if not worn habitually), a method of self-defense and a map and compass at the minimum.
A GHB is usually leaner than a proper BOB, but not always, and is intended to hold just the essentials for a day or two, tops, of rapid movement and evasion while you are trying to get home.
But, if you are unable to get home, or just unable to risk attempting, a fully loaded GHB will be a comfort indeed since you’ll really be heading into the unknown.
Sanitation is going to be among the most serious of problems in a city. In fact, it might be your wakeup call that life is just not the same anymore.
If you live outside of the city, especially if you have a bit of land to work with, you can more easily dispose of or burn your household waste and find alternatives to using a toilet. However, in the city, these are often not options.
Just think about it. What would you do if your garbage didn’t get picked up for a month? Gross, right? Now imagine your neighbors, all putting out the same amount of garbage or more who live right on top of you with a hundred more all stacked on top of them.
You might live in an apartment or a house in the suburbs. What would you do with four to eight garbage bags full of trash, which includes a lot of rotting food? Where would you put it? The next time you take out a gross, smelly bag of garbage, imagine what you would do if you had nowhere to take it and no way to get rid of it.
Far from a smelly aggravation, the accumulation of trash and refuse is like a dinner bell to pestilence of all types, everything from rodents to insects.
These critters, while mostly benign amidst the trappings of a properly functioning civilization, will become vectors of hideous diseases that pop up wherever mountains of refuse are allowed to collect untouched.
The same can be said if you couldn’t flush your toilet, only the resultant aftermath is going to be 10 times worse. I myself can attest to the difficulty of having no running water.
Two winters ago was particularly cold and our water main froze solid. We went for three days before the city could send a crew to tap us into our neighbor’s water supply.
Not being able to flush the toilet was a challenge to put it mildly, and that waste had to go somewhere. Fortunately, I had a portable toilet on-hand, and since we still had trash pickup and a store at which I could purchase more bags for the toilet, we were fine. But if there was no garbage pickup and no working toilet? Sheesh!
The waterways and streets would be full of waste, both household and human, which is a breeding ground for disease. Do a quick search on the internet for outbreaks of disease that spring up in cities, and how easily they turn into full-blown conflagrations of pestilence, even epidemics.
And mind you this is the best case scenario! If you throw in a broken sewer system letting waste overflow into receptacles and drains or a pandemic deadly enough that it leaves dead bodies in the streets, then you have a whole new level of issue.
Solution: You will need to have a toilet system on hand, such as a portable toilet, or something as simple as a bucket with a primitive seat fashioned from boards and lined with a can liner and sawdust B If the situation permits you should consider a composting toilet, though this is not a practical option for many urbanites.
You will also need to have extra supplies for hygiene; buy now, buy cheap, stack it deep. Forgo having to find alternates to TP for as long as you can. Also consider stocking up on baby wipes. They are useful for doing your duty, but also “hobo baths” that can help you stave off skin infection and smelling rank.
You should stock up on all of the following to give yourself some “time off the toilet” in the event you lose water and sewage. The alternative is too awful to think about, but you can get a preview in LA and San Francisco.
- Bags – both heavy-duty garbage and Ziploc
- Gloves – both disposable plastic and chemical
- A system for composting human waste
- Extra soap (including waterless soap) and hand sanitizer
- Loads of bleach and cleaning supplies
- Lots of hydrogen peroxide and isopropyl alcohol
- N99 respirator masks
- Antibacterial ointments and creams
- Extra dressings for wound care
- Ways to purify water, such as chemicals or a good water purification system
- A large, strong pot you can use to boil water
One more thing !Keep in mind, if the sanitation issues get too out of hand, the risk of contracting a debilitating and eventually fatal disease or bug will start to approach 100%.
If there is no end in sight on waste woes, you must make all speed at getting out of the city if you want to survive.
Yes, you can run into desperate people anywhere during a disaster or post-collapse, but if you are in any urban centers, you will find yourself beset by a swarm of the downtrodden, broken and desperate.
A veritable sea of humanity on its last legs, and every one of them wanting, needing something from you. Some may be turned away with a kind word or a strong one. Others will only understand violence. Need is the ultimate monkey on your back. It can make people do terrible things.
After the first few days of a disaster results in missed meals, constant stress, mayhem and death, you will find that even the most respectable, regular folks from your neighborhood will start to behave in ways they wouldn’t usually.
They may withdraw, go mad from the revelation or turn manic, frothing and yelling. Some will give up. Others will adopt the Law of the Jungle as their moral compass, stopping at nothing to take care of their dependents.
You should make every attempt to take care of neighbors, family and friends, but the outstretched hand, once filled, will never disappear. “Feed it once and it will follow you home.” is an old saying worth remembering. It will do no good to blow through all the supplies you have and join their ranks.
You can help yourself stay out from under the grubby hands of the dispossessed and desperate by doing the following:
Keep your prepping under the radar! In other words, shut up about it! Don’t go telling every neighbor who walks their dog past your house what you have going on in there. Don’t tell every friend. Hell, be very selective in which family members you tell. Loose lips sink ships…
When people are getting desperate, you need to blend in with the rest of the downtrodden. Don’t make a conspicuous display of your “wealth” if at all possible.
Bulging backpacks, full bellies, clean clothes and smelling like a person and not an animal is tip-off enough that you are living comparatively high on the hog.
If you go out and talk the way they talk, ask the same questions they ask, and act the way they act, they will be far less likely to suspect you have your prepping ducks in a row.
You have to keep this up for as long as possible. Decide now how you will deal with those nice, poor neighbors when they figure out you just might have food and water because they will come knocking… We will discuss this in detail below.
When they do, you will need to decide whether to help them or turn them away. That’s it. If you decide to help them, make it clear that they need to contribute to the group’s/building’s/family’s overall safety and survival, which might mean doing some things they find uncomfortable. Quid Pro Quo.
Everyone can do something unless they are very young, very old or incapacitated. If you aren’t going to help them, then you need to turn them away and you need to be prepared to use force to see your will done. Some people won’t take no for an answer.
However, it also behooves you to have as many trustworthy, useful allies as possible, especially in the city, so perhaps the best thing is to try to come to an agreement with those people you know and nominally trust.
They must have something that is of use to you, even if it’s just manual labor, and you can trade for a bit of food or other comfort items like cigarettes, alcohol and books.
Even if you are stuffed to the rafters with canned food, shelf-stable fare like MREs and more, it might be wise to just include a lot of extra simple staples like rice, flour, honey and beans in your preps for situations like this.
You will remain on the good side of these people, people you know are generally trustworthy, and this relationship will come in handy when you have to deal with the other kind of people – the real bad guys.
The Real Bad Guys
The criminal underbelly, the bandit caste, present in every city the world around, will in all probability be set loose on a reeling populace in the wake of a major crisis. These are the people that were iffy or downright dangerous before the SHTF. Now they will be unconcerned with a law enforcement response most of the time in most places, if at all.
These are not people with whom you can reason, barter, or make deals. You can’t just give these guys a little bit of rice and beans. They are going to come in guns blazing, knives drawn, and take everything you have. If you are lucky, they will be content to just take your stuff and not kill you for sport.
When it comes to dealing with these bad guys, you need to be ready to defend what’s yours That means having weapons such as guns and ammo, crossbows, knives, clubs, anything, anything you feel you need and are comfortable with. You also need to know how to fight. It is not enough to have the tools. You will need to be trained and prepared to use them. You must also know how to handle yourself in a hand-to-hand fight.
You will also need good operational security, a solid defense plan, and everyone in your group or family drilled on it until you all work together like fingers on the same hand.
With luck, your average baddie who is after treasure will decide there are easier spoils to be had elsewhere and retreat as soon as he is facing armed and organized resistance. But unlike a home invasion or mugging in kinder times, that is not necessarily where the story ends, now.
If you have been identified as sitting on top of a massive cache of material and provision, you can bet a band of marauders with some backbone may very well decide to come back with more force next time. You will never be able to let your guard down in a SHTF situation, especially one where you successfully drove off your adversaries.
Whatever the case, you can rest assured there will be no cavalry coming to save you. No cops, and damn sure no Army. It is up to you and yours to take care of you and yours. You must make sure you are up to the task.
You Get Trapped Inside
An altogether common occurrence when the SHTF and you are well within the city perimeter: you get trapped inside! No matter what happens and how, any major disaster be it man-made or natural will see traffic going into and heading out of the city grind to a halt.
You will simply have entirely too many people trying to move all at once, by car, plane, train and foot, and the highways, byways and thoroughfares will become hopelessly clogged. Some reasons you might be trapped inside the city include:
- You might lose your mode of transportation.
- The roads might become jammed solid with gridlock or abandoned vehicles.
- The Feds/State governor might put the city on lockdown.
- Your city or your part of it might become a quarantine zone.
Any of the above are possible and have happened before. So what do you do if you want to get out and you can’t? In general, there are some tips that will help you get out before that can happen or even when things get bad:
Get out before the tipping point. Some paradigm-shifting events go off like a bomb (literally) but others will build and percolate for a while before blowing their tops.
The best way to no get trapped in the city is to get out while the getting is good. No one likes zigzagging out of town and back again on false alarms, but the alternative is to court getting your ticket punched and stuck in the urban jungle while the sun is setting, if you take my meaning.
Seek out and setup alternate ways out of the city besides road, rail, bridge, etc. The most common and the most popular ways out will be the first to become parking lots. You cannot be among them when that happens or you will lose your vehicle!
If you have the capability and the moxie you can always consider hoofing it out on foot, but you must plan and choose your route carefully if it would take you anywhere near or through the dangerous parts of town.
Another alternate route is to make like a mole and go by way of the unseen highways: the maintenance access tunnels, building corridors, and yes even sewers that most folks don’t know about and won’t be travelling.
These ways are not without risk and you will need to do a ton of prep in advance to make any of these off-the-map routes viable, but they can be a fast and safe way through the pandemonium engulfing the streets.
Another good plan is to “cut the knot” by getting out of the city via alternate transport. If you have access to a private aircraft (especially a helicopter) you can leave all the mayhem below behind you so long as you are willing to potentially violate a no-fly order.
If you know a pilot with the right proclivities, they might be plied with a token of your appreciation to get you and yours out of the city post haste. Just be sure to arrange for pickup at a certain landing place at a certain time.
Be prepared to face dangerous conditions on the way out. Have heavy gloves, eye protection, an N95 respirator mask, and good solid shoes and light but sturdy clothing to keep your body as protected as possible.
Urban environments furnish all kinds of sharp, jagged and rough surfaces in the wake of a disaster and you must not risk infection from a minor injury during a time like this.
If you do go by foot, don’t look like “food” to the scumbags mentioned above. Move with purpose, and pay attention to who and what is going on around you, even if you are in the midst of chaos.
Do not show fear, panic or uncertainty no matter how afraid and unhinged you feel on the inside. Even during the opening stages of the event there will be those looking to capitalize on the frightened masses.
You should definitely have some sort of weapon on you for self-defense purposes at this time. Make sure you can access it quickly.
Do not blindly follow the mob of people moving this way or that! It is entirely possible for a stampeding herd to run right off a proverbial cliff.
Instead, follow your own pre-determined path come hell or high water, deviating only when it is in your best interest to do so. Trust your hard-won knowledge and your instincts. These will serve you better to see you out of the carnage than a mob of uncontrolled people.
The Need to Scavenge
At some point you might need to scavenge for resources in the city. This is a lot more difficult in urban centers than it will be in rural areas because there are a lot of other desperate people out there doing the very same thing.
The best chance you have is to know your area of the city well and stay off the beaten track. Even then, there will be hundreds or thousands of people with the precise “great idea” you have.
The more you can move through your environment without being seen, the better, because once you leave the relative safety of your home or bug-in location, you will be at much greater risk of being caught by someone or injured.
It should go without saying, but you should always be armed for the duration of the event. Bring at least one weapon with you for protection and bring some sort of tool useful for, ah, accessing blocked essentials.
A crowbar is an excellent choice, as are wrecker bars, sledgehammers, lock picks and other counter-imprisonment tools. With them you can more easily access buildings that hold the precious resources you need.
Remember to also bring an “overflow” bag in which to carry your spoils home with you. When scavenging, consider targets that are less likely to already have been considered and hit by others, such as:
- Construction sites
- Office buildings (break rooms, cafeterias, etc.)
- Distribution centers, warehouses, shipping terminals
- Abandoned delivery trucks
Ultimately, surviving in an urban center is possible, but is definitely not something that is easily done. In almost all situations escape to a far less populated area is preferable, but reality has shown us this will not always be possible.
If you can keep you head and use the procedures and tips presented in this guide, you can survive the mayhem and chaos that will be attendant to surviving a SHTF event in a large city.