20 Urban Survival Mistakes You Need to Stop Making ASAP

When prepping for a disaster, there are three S-es you need to consider: safety, shelter, and supplies.

But, securing them can be different when living in the city than in the countryside. The circumstances will be different, and you need to adapt depending on the location you are in.

a crowded street in Milan, Italy
a crowded street in Milan, Italy

In an urban setting, the major challenges that you will have to face are constraints in space and the people. Living in a crowded city presents many dangers when looking for shelter and storing your supplies.

And when catastrophe hits, many people will turn on each other in an act of desperation. So, when the time comes, you need to be prepared for it.

Here are 20 urban mistakes that people commit in the advent of a crisis. Avoid doing them by reading on further.

1. Not Having a Bug Out Location

In the event of an evacuation, having a bug out location is a must. Staying in the city, especially if you live in a crowded neighbor, will make it impossible for you to survive since you can’t grow food and you won’t find alternate sources of water. In addition to injury from damaged buildings and infrastructure, you need to get away from the riots that will soon follow.

The perfect bug out location (BOL) is a remote area, either in a small town or in the wilderness. The less people present, the farther away from danger you are. Don’t be completely discouraged from living in the suburbs. It’s safer than the crowded city, if you’re careful and stay away from bad neighborhoods.

2. Not Having Enough Fuel in Your Tank

If you need to bug out, it’s better to do it with a full tank of gas, especially if you’re headed into a remote area. And if you need to be always on the move, you wouldn’t be able to go far with an empty tank.

Always refill your gas tank before it gets below half a tank. Once a SHTF or natural disaster has occurred, gas station lines will be long, there may be a gas shortage, and pumps may not even work at all. If you can and know how to safely store it, stock up on gas and additional types of fuel.

3. Not Having an Escape Route

You need to plan several escape routes ahead of time. This requires extensive knowledge of the city and its roads, back alleys, and dead ends. Map at least one to three different routes you could take to get to your bug out location.

Laminate your maps to keep them waterproof or put them in a watertight container.

4. Not Having a Flexible Plan

Some people make the mistake of limiting their preparations to one type of situation only. A good survival plan should plan for small emergencies like breaking your arm, to a full-blown crisis like TEOTWAWKI (the end of the world as we know it).

Have well-thought-out plans for each type of event, so you can be ready for anything.

5. Breaking the Law​

When SHTF, people may abandon the law to survive. They will resort to breaking into stores or even homes in order to steal.

Moral issues aside, you will only be putting yourself in danger if you join them. You may get caught in a riot or get hurt by people who only see a means to an end so prep ahead of time so you can stay away from the danger.

6. Not Knowing How to Escape a Riot

If you end up in the middle of a riot, you need to get out of there immediately. What you need to do is to is move in the same direction as the crowd. Stay close to the walls and watch for the nearest exit.

Don’t attract attention to yourself and stay calm. You don’t want to look suspicious. And don’t forget to stay on high alert to attack from any direction. Learn more about surviving riots here.

7. Not Securing Your Home

If you choose to bug in instead of out, your home security must be comprehensive and done in advance of a crisis. Intruders who may be planning to ransack your house will be persistent.

Install deadbolts on your doors, make windows smash-proof by using Plexiglas or adding grills or bars, and put motion-activated floodlights near the entrances. Have an escape plan in the event of a fire, smoke, or fumes.

8. Bragging About Your Preps

It’s only natural to feel proud of the hard work you’ve done to prep. But don’t get carried away and show this off to everyone. When disaster strikes, people desperate to survive may remember and try to take your supplies.

This puts you in a position to have to fight a neighbor or lose everything you worked to stockpile. Keep in mind that blabbing about prepping can also be negatively perceived by others. So please try to keep quiet as much as you can.

9. Talking too Loudly Inside Your Home

In a post-SHTF scenario, it is better to talk in a low voice so as not to attract the attention of potential burglars. It will be safer for you if no one knows you’re inside the house. Soundproof the rooms if you have too, especially if you have an infant in the family.

10. Refusing to Bug Out​

In the event of a disaster, you can choose to stay in your home or bug out. Although both have merits, there are situations where an immediate evacuation is a must.

If you are facing a natural calamity like a hurricane, refusing to leave your house will be putting yourself in danger. Plan ahead and have a bug out location ready.

Do your research and know when to evacuate so you can be ahead of the crowds of desperate people.

11. Not Stocking Up on Water

Water is one thing you can’t survive without, so this goes at the very top of your stockpile. Unlike food, you can’t last more than three days without it.

When a disaster threatens to hit, gather as much water as you can. Set aside some for cooking, washing, doing the laundry, etc. as well.

12. Not Having Means to Purify Tap Water​

Access to clean water should a priority in prepping. In disastrous situations, tap water may be contaminated and become unsafe for drinking. Worse, the pipelines could break, and water will stop running.

Stock up on some clean water and get yourself a water filter such as the LifeStraw. It is a portable water filter that can remove almost all waterborne bacteria and parasites.

13. Not Having Survival Skills

Prepping is not only limited to supplies. Learning the right skills is just as important as stockpiling. Apartment living limits the space for your stockpile and makes the probability of bugging out high.

In this case, rely more on your survival skills than your supply. With the right skills you can survive a long time with minimal supplies.

14. Not Being in Shape

If you want to make it out alive, you need to be physically fit to do so. You need to have the strength, stamina, endurance, and speed to protect yourself and your family.

You can go to the gym, run a few miles in the morning, or just work out at home. Choose whatever’s convenient for you. And being in good shape is not just for prepping for a disaster. It’s good for your health too.

15. Not Having an Everyday Carry Kit (EDC)

Disaster may strike at any time and any place. If it happens when you’re outside, at work or traveling, having an EDC will be a lifesaver. It doesn’t have to be bulky and can fit in your everyday carry bag or backpack.

an expandable baton with hand
an expandable baton with hand

16. Not Having a Self-defense Weapon

In the face of a disaster, people will take the law into their own hands. Protect yourself from harm by including a weapon in your EDC. You can use non-lethal ones such as a baton, stun gun, pepper spray, tactical pen, etc.

Choose one that suits you and you feel confident in using. If you don’t know how to work it properly though, your attacker can use it against you.

17. Relying too Much on Firearms

Sure, having weapons will be useful for defense and hunting. But, if you’re living in the city, there won’t be any wildlife to hunt. And using it for protection will just attract attention to yourself and some might try to take it from you.It will also be of little value to trade next to food and water.

Consider alternative weapons such as a slingshot or crossbow. Don’t rely only on the weapon; proper training and practice is a must.

18. Shooting Looters on Sight​

Tempting as it may seem, morals aside, shooting them is a bad idea. Using your gun often makes it known to everyone that you have a gun, including those who may want it for themselves.

These looters might be armed as well and might fire back at you. I’m not saying not to use guns for defense. Just know when to shoot in self-defense, and when it’s unnecessary and safer not to.

19. Not Prepping Your Pets

If you have pets at home, your prepping endeavors should include them as well. House pets usually depend on their owners for food and shelter, and they will be no different in case of a calamity. Include some pet food in your stockpile. After all, they’re also a part of your family, right?

20. Not Including Vitamins

In prepping for your supplies, adding multivitamins on your pile can be easily overlooked. You will need these more than ever post-SHTF. Your diet will be meager and inconsistent. Your multivitamin will keep you healthier amidst the danger and physical exertion you will be facing.

21. Trusting the Wrong People

When it comes to a survival or SHTF situation, people around you will be desperate to provide for themselves and their families. Many of them will not hesitate to manipulate their way into your group to see what supplies and resources you have that they can take for themselves.

Be very cautious about who you let into your group and who you trust with information about your location, your supplies, and your plans.

22. Not Accumulating a Survival Library

Our society has become so completely dependent on technology and the internet in the last decade. And progress is good in many ways. But in a grid down situation, when you can’t access those Internet resources, you need a backup plan.

Start now to accumulate a survival library of books and printed materials that you can refer to as needed if the internet or the grid goes down.

23. Not Learning to Use Gear You Buy

One of the most common mistakes most new preppers make is to stockpile all the recommended survival gear without taking time to learn how to use it properly. Even the simplest of tasks can become dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing or aren’t familiar with the tools and gear you are using.

Practice using your survival gear on camping trips or even in your backyard, so when the time comes to rely on your gear, you can use it quickly and with confidence.

24. Underestimating the Risks

Another of the biggest urban survival mistakes that many preppers make is underestimating the risks involved with remaining in the city during an extended crisis or SHTF event.

Sure, a short-term power outage or storm that lasts a couple days isn’t so bad. People don’t typically panic until they realize help isn’t coming or the event isn’t going to end quickly. Once that city-wide panic sets in, the risks grow exponentially.

Every person you meet or attract the attention of can be a risk. Each time you leave your apartment, you run the risk of not being able to get back to your family. Even for those who decide to hunker down in an urban area, danger increases with each passing hour.

As time goes by, there will be fires, explosions, and riots which can make your own apartment a deathtrap. Leaving in the midst of this panic means you face an even greater risk trying to reach a safe location.

25. Not Taking Time to Learn First Aid Skills

When you are injured or ill or someone you care about is in trouble, it can be difficult to think clearly. When it comes to illness and injury, time is of the essence.

If you have to look up how to perform first aid treatment on someone who is bleeding profusely or who has stopped breathing, you will waste precious minutes needed to save their life.

Make sure you take the time to learn and practice first aid skills, especially when it comes to things such as bleeding, breathing problems, bullet wounds, burns, and other traumatic injuries.

26. Not Planning for Personal Hygiene and Sanitation Needs

Experts agree that one of the issues that kills many people during a natural disaster or extended crisis situation is infection and disease. Two of the biggest ways you can prevent infection and disease from spreading to your family is to plan for personal hygiene and proper sanitation needs.

If you are trapped in your home with no working plumbing, how will you dispose of human waste? If you cannot open your door safely because of looters and rioters, how will you dispose of garbage?

How will you keep yourself and family members clean without running water? All of these things must be planned for in advance of a crisis or emergency.

27. Not Diversifying Prep Storage

When you live in an urban area, especially if you are in an apartment, condo, or perhaps a trailer park, finding storage for your preps can be challenging. But one mistake many urban preppers make is storing their prep all around their apartment or living space and nowhere else.

If your home is flooded or otherwise destroyed by a fire or natural disaster, you find yourself trying to survive with no resources. Make sure you think about places to store preps that are outside of your home and your immediate area.

You can use supply caches near your workplace, store some preps at a relative’s home, or even rent a storage unit to make sure all your preps aren’t destroyed in one fell swoop.

28. Not Staying Calm

This survival mistake is made by a lot of people, urban and rural residents alike. The importance of staying calm during a crisis is often overlooked.

If you are in a panic state, it can be very difficult to be objective when making decisions about whether to bug in or bug out, or even about which foods to eat now versus later, or what turn to make on a bug out route, etc.

Studies have proven that people who panic can forget their street address, their family members’ names, or even their own phone number. Stay calm, have a plan, and stick to it unless you have a pressing reason to alter your course.

29. Getting Lost or Taking a Wrong Turn

If you are in an urban area, it can be very easy to take a wrong turn and end up completely lost or forced to take the long way around to get to your bug out location or back to your home base.

Make sure you have printed maps of the city and that you frequently walk or drive those routes to map out any specific changes or dangers that might prevent you from getting through in a crisis.

Bridges, underpasses, and one-way streets can quickly become impassable during a citywide crisis. Make sure to avoid these areas when you bug out or if you must travel to/from one location to another.

30. Not Trusting Your Gut

There is something to be said for gut instinct. This is especially true for preppers who have taken the time to consciously train their mind and body to be alert to potential danger.

If something feels wrong, looks suspicious, or feels off, it probably is. You definitely need to base your decisions on facts whenever possible. But when all else fails, trust your gut to keep you from getting into a more dangerous situation.


Unlike other situations where you can learn from your mistakes, committing one of these may cost you your life. You might not get a second chance to make things right so don’t leave it for tomorrow to prepare.

As a survivalist, it is important to think everything through when prepping. Go through every scenario, anticipate any problems that can arise, and know how to deal with them.

Discuss plans often with your family. Everyone should be aware of the bug out location, evacuation plan, and where the supplies are hidden. They should not depend solely on you because if something happens to you, they will not have a clue what to do.

Everyone should take part in prepping. The more heads you have working together, the better ideas will come up when planning and implementing these survival measures.

What other survival mistakes can you think of? Tell us by posting your comments below. Also, you can find more tips on urban survival here, and don’t forget to pin this article to one of your Pinterest boards!

urban survival mistakes Pinterest image

2 thoughts on “20 Urban Survival Mistakes You Need to Stop Making ASAP”

  1. Gut instinct.
    People can laugh and grin about it but it’s real. Can’t pin down if it’s the brain thinking at the sub-conscious level or just what but I listen. When I was younger I “ran with the wrong crowd” and it got to the point that if I remarked it’s time to go out of thin air people that knew me well left also.
    Sometimes it was just a sudden feeling that I could never pin down a reason for but I was right far to often and regretted ignoring it more than once.
    Want something spooky to think about? Try staring hard at the back of someones head out in public. Funny how often they look around like they can feel it.

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