Friday, November 23, 2018

Urban Survival: Twenty-Two Practical Tips

Many people live in cities, obviously. This is a choice for some, a necessity for others. Regardless of why you are in the city, here are some tips to help you survive whatever the future may being.

1) Live as near to where you work as possible. There are many advantages to living near your workplace - you can save time, gas money, and wear & tear on your car. In an emergency, you can "get home" quicker and more safely. You might even get a discount on your auto insurance, saving money you can spend on your preps, paying off debt, or building an emergency fund. Walking distance from work is ideal. Or only minutes via car or public transport.

2) Practice OPSEC regarding your preparations. You don't want a bunch of neighbors and co-workers showing up at you apartment demanding food in a crisis because they know you are a prepper. I've written a three part series on OPSEC (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3) you might want to read.

3) Know your way around your city, particularly the areas in which you live, work, shop, worship, and go to school. Also, know where the bad neighborhoods and high crime areas of your city are, and how to avoid them.

4) Know several escape routes from your city should bugging-out ever become necessary or even mandatory. Have paper copies of directions and maps, in case GPS & Google Maps are down when you need them. If you are bugging-out on foot, abandoned train tracks may be your best option. Most cities have many of these, and some have already been turned into greenways and walking/jogging trails. Learn these now. Acquire or make maps, especially of the ones leading out of town.

5) Maintain a vehicle in very good condition, should you ever need to bug-out. Keep the gas tank topped off, and if possible to safely do so, keep at least one 5-gallon can of gas on hand for emergencies (rotate it on a regular basis). Even if you can't store the gas safely, keep an empty can on hand just-in-case. Make sure you have an emergency kit in your vehicle, including items such as some food and water, first aid kit, flashlight, extra batteries, extra oil, and jumper cables or battery starter. For winter, include extra gloves and head/neck coverings. A warm blanket is also a good idea, as is a power bar for your phone.


6) Know how to be a "Gray Man." The gray man knows how to fit in with his city, especially among his neighbors and co-workers. He doesn't stand out as anything particularly special or noticeable. He and his house, vehicle, and family blend in with their community. They look and act like they belong, and don't draw unnecessary or unwanted attention. 


7) Know how to not look like a victim. This is somewhat similar to being the gray man, but not exactly. Don't make yourself a target by wearing expensive, flashy clothes & accessories, or driving an expensive car.  Don't make yourself a target by appearing easy prey - wear practical clothes and shoes, pay attention to your surroundings, and walk confidently, head up.  Don't bury yourself in your smart phone or IPod. Practice situational awareness. 

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I use Aqua-Tainers.
8) Stockpile water. Water takes up a lot of space, but try to keep at least one weeks' worth on hand at all times. Two weeks is even better. At the first sign of trouble - a blackout, riots, a major storm or whatever - start hoarding water any way you can. Fill up your sinks, tubs, pots, pitchers, bottles, etc.

9) Have a way to filter/treat water.  Tap water may still be available, but not safe. You may also need find other sources of water, and will want to filter/treat that water, too. Rain water, and local streams and ponds, may also be source for water after your supplies run out. Another source is water sitting in hot water heaters (learn how to access that water now, before you need it). A sillcock key, also known as a water key, may allow you to access water spigots on commercial buildings, and at parks and golf courses.

10) Avoid trouble, especially after the trouble starts. What I mean by this is don't go looking for trouble. Don't join in the riots or looting. Don't even go watch out of curiosity. Don't "cowboy up" and start patrolling the streets during a riot (you'll be outnumbered and out gunned). If at all possible, avoid entirely the areas experiencing trouble. Hide, keep quiet, and stay invisible. Be prepared to use self-defense, but remember self-defense is a last resort. Avoiding the trouble in the first place is always you safest option.

11) Take commonsense precautions to secure your home and vehicle. Find ways to harden your home and vehicle. Keep doors
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Wedge Door Alarm
and windows locked. Make use of steering wheel bars and door alarms. Have working smoke alarms and fire extinguishers. Install a steel security door. Consider a security system or a doorbell with camera and monitor. Consider owning a handgun or home defense shotgun (legally and safely, of course, and get well-trained!). The Shooter's Bible Guide to Home Defense may provide more information.      

12) You can grow food in the city. In fact, I've written an article on that you should read:  Urban Survival: Apartment & City Gardening.

13) Keep some cash around the house. Hide it well, and don't tell anyone except your spouse about it. ATMs may be down and banks closed during an emergency. Some junk silver may also be good to hide at home. If you ever have to bug-out, don't forget these stashes!

 
14) Stockpile as much food, water, and other supplies as possible.  Need room to put all those supplies? Get creative. Raise
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Water Bricks
your bed on blocks to get extra storage room under it. Create overhead storage areas. Use water bricks to store water, dry foods (beans, rice, pasta, dog food), or even small supplies (batteries, first aid supplies, ammo, etc.). They are made to stack easily, and can even be turned into tables, nightstands, and other pieces of furniture (thereby serving a dual purpose).  Another possibility is to rent a nearby storage unit.

 
15) Be smart when out in public. Pay attention to your surroundings. Be wary of people who look out-of-place, are loitering, seem to be paying close attention to you, or who act nervous. Shop in groups. Let people know where you are going and when to expect you back. Keep your phone fully charged. Use well-light and highly visible parking spaces. Before getting out of a car or walking out of a building, look out a window first to identify possible dangers. Don't get so involved with your smart phone or IPod that you ignore your surroundings. Always be alert.

16) Yip-yip dogs are great for city dwellers. Yip-yip dogs are the small breeds of dogs that tend to be very nervous and bark (yip) quite readily. These make great early warning systems for people trying to break in your home, or messing around your property or vehicles.

17) Bug-out bags and get home bags are a must for city dwellers.
You never know when an emergency will rise, and you probably won't have time to pack. A bug-out bag already packed and ready to go may be the only thing you have time to grab on your way out of the city. It should be designed for three-days use at a minimum, but longer is better. A get home bag is one you can keep in your vehicle to help you get home in an emergency should you have to go on foot, and should contain things such as a flashlight or headlamp, extra batteries, bottled water, and practical walking shoes, especially you you normally wear dress shoes or heels at work.


18) Sanitation & hygiene are especially important considerations for city dwellers. High population density means cities are breeding grounds for all sorts of disease and pestilence. This situation will only be worse during and after a SHTF situation as the city's infrastructure breaks down (sewer system problems, no trash pick-up, lack of running water, and so forth). Plan on dealing with sanitation and hygiene, and stock up on supplies such as large trash bags, cleaning solutions, soap, detergent, bleach, hand sanitizer, Clorox wipes, and even disposable earloop face masks. Have a way to wash clothes and bed sheets, such as a washing wand, even if the power is off. Also, consider pest control for after SHTF (rat poison, roach motels, mouse and rat traps, etc.). 

19) Have a communications plan, and designate a contact outside the city. See my article Do you have a Family Communications Plan? for more details. 

20) Take a good non-lethal.self-defense course. A good self-defense course won't just cover self-defense, but also give info on avoiding dangerous situations. These 

21) If you can carry a gun legally, do so. Know and obey the laws, get all the proper licenses and permits, get well-trained, and practice gun safety, of course. But carry if you can.

22) Have plenty of batteries, and go solar. The power grid may go down completely, or it just may be weak, unreliable, and inconsistent. Be prepared to power your gadgets (phones, radios, flashlights, headlamps) with batteries and/or solar power. 

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Kaito KA500 Emergency Radio. This one has is all: AM/FM/SW/NOAA (weather alert) bands; powered five ways (electrical cord, USB port, AA batteries, solar, and hand-crank); plus flashlight, reading lamp, and cellphone charger.


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