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How to Be a Survival Prepper in an Urban Environment

Avatar for Chris Thompson Chris Thompson  |  Updated: October 3, 2019
How to Be a Survival Prepper in an Urban Environment

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You may be prepared for a survival situation outside of an urban environment, but are you ready to survive in the city? A metropolitan area is dense in population and difficult to navigate in a disaster. The most common prepping advice will still work here — but only if you know how to apply it correctly to this environment.

Have a Plan

Start with the basics. You need to be able to answer these questions:

  • Am I staying or going?
  • Where am I going?
  • How do I get there?
  • Who am I going to tell?
  • How long am I hunkering down for?

The most important question to answer is the first. Are you prepping to survive in the city, or are you prepping to escape?

Be ready for your answers to change at any moment. You may not be able to get out of the city — are you still prepared? You need to be prepping for every part of your daily routine: at home, at the store, at work, wherever. If your plan doesn’t work for any situation you can imagine yourself in, fix it.

How well do you know the city around you? You might only know how to get between home and work. To be a good survivalist, you need to become intimately familiar with your environment. That means your neighborhood, the back alleys around your home and all the different landmarks. You should keep a compass and waterproof map on hand wherever you go. Use this to plan possible on-foot routes to or from your home and out of the city.

Learn to Prep With the Room You Have

What you don’t have in the city is space. Storing more than three days’ worth of food and water is easy when you have a root cellar and not so bad if you have a large kitchen and pantry. However, most urban apartments aren’t going to have room for the kinds of stores most preppers require.

You’ll have to be efficient in how you use your space. Always make sure you have at least three or more days’ worth of water stored in sealed, food-safe plastic containers. Pack food based on calorie and nutrient density. Look for protein bars that don’t provoke thirst — most marketed as survival bars or rations should be OK. MREs, which have a good shelf life, are a little bulky but are more nutritionally complete and easier to store than cans or tins.

When you run out of room in your pantry, get creative. The room under hanging shirts in your closet or beneath your bed are places you can start. In the worst-case scenario, you can use your stores as supports or furniture. It may get you some weird looks, but you’ll be the one with food and water to spare.

Build a Better Bug-Out Bag

You should also be prepared for a situation where you can’t get to your bug-out bag. When things go down, you don’t know if you’ll be on the road, at work or at home. Build a day bag designed with the express purpose of getting you back home or to your bug-out bag.

In this bag, include a first-aid kit, emergency rations, and water. This daily carry bag should hold all the things you need to navigate a city: your map, any tools you may need — like an emergency window breaker or seat-belt cutter — and a flashlight. If you want to keep from getting stuck in the dark, you should also have a flashlight that is powerful yet compact to save as much space as possible.

Assume you may not be able to get out of the city.

Is everything in your bag still useful?

Be Ready for When the Power Go Out

You may not only lose lights, but also water and heat. In an urban disaster, there is no guarantee that basic utilities — electricity, gas, water — will stay on. You probably don’t want to stay in the city, but you need to be prepared for this situation. Certain urban structures — mostly newer ones, with good insulation — will trap heat better than others. However, even outside of states known for bitter winters or brutal summers, extreme temperatures can quickly become a real threat.

These rules apply to survival in most settings, but there are some special considerations you should make for prepping in the city. Sanitation will become difficult when the water stops running. The garbage trucks won’t come, but trash will pile up after a disaster. Wild animals will be less of a threat, but you shouldn’t count out the danger of scavengers that this trash will attract, like coyotes, foxes, and raccoons. You’re not going to be physically threatened by these animals unless they’re rabid, but they are clever and good at finding food — that can include your stores if you’re not careful.

Prepping to Survive in an Urban Environment

The usual prepper tips still work in the city, but they need some adjusting. Make sure you cover your basics — have a plan of action, keep your food and water stores stocked, and have the tools you need to survive in your environment before you start thinking about going somewhere else. Follow this advice, and you’ll significantly improve your chances of survival.

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4 Responses to “How to Be a Survival Prepper in an Urban Environment”

  1. Be VERY careful about who you include in your preps, prepping, location planning , etc. Even friends, neighbors, co-workers, and family members
    MAY tell the wrong people….

    • I guess that would depend on how close they live to you. If they live with you, just make sure you include them in your planning. If not, how close do they live to you? My relatives live either several hundred miles away or a couple of thousand. I don’t care what they may think about my prepping and I don’t include them in my plans.

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