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Not all survival situations happen in the deep wilderness. When it comes to the urban wilds, many city or town dwellers tend to get left out regarding survival tips. Surviving in unforeseen circumstances is a skill needed for any and every environment and can be a life-saving boon for professionals, soldiers, L.E.O.s, and civvies alike.

It's essential to have the skills needed to be able to face whatever comes at you, even in urban environments. So we've gathered some of our best urban survival tips to help. It's never an exhaustive list, but they should guide you to be better prepared and help give you a starting point on what to do when S.H.T.F if you're trapped in a town or city in emergencies.

Below, we do our best to include relevant tips for urban scenarios that you often don't see mentioned in general or wilderness survival articles.

Live Close to Where You Work

When a disaster strikes or something happens, you'll probably either bug in or bug out. Whether you're going to rent or own, consider moving as close to work as you possibly can. Ideally, that would be minutes away. The perfect place to live would be close enough to work that you could still get home by foot, but minutes by vehicle are also suitable, although you'll save tons of gas with the former.

Keep in mind that public transportation may not be reliable and could stop working during disasters or social unrest, becoming unsafe to use.

Plan The Bug Out Routes

No matter what city or urban area you'll be living in or even visiting, learn about alternative routes to use to get out and get away when you need to, quickly. Any main highways or roads will probably be packed and jammed to a near standstill during an emergency, with everyone attempting to evacuate at the same time. Find the secondary or even third options for routes out of the city because you might have to use them.

If you can, set aside time to practice drills to familiarize yourself and memorize the alternative routes. Take a different one each time until you feel confident in knowing where each one is and can choose and find them easily in case of emergency.

Stockpile and Have Emergency Supplies at the Ready

Many stockpilers, civilians, and others panic when things go down and leave shelves empty. Waiting until the last moment to ensure you have basic survival supplies, food and water will only leave you with little to nothing to get. Begin carefully choosing what to pack in a bug-out bag and what supplies you'll need in case you'll have to bug in or survive an extended power blackout.

Some suggestions on what to stockpile for bugging in (sheltering in place):

  • Rice. Cheap, versatile, and shelf-stable when stored in air-tight containers.
  • Proteins like peanut butter, canned tuna, canned meats, beef jerky, dried and salted meats, canned beans.
  • Canned goods, as almost anything can be canned—stock up on soup, fruits, and vegetables.
  • Water. This may seem like a no-brainer, but it can easily be something we forget to keep when everything's going great. The moment you shelter in place in an extended power outage, your plumbing system has minimal time left to function without electricity. Most of the time, if you're on city water, that water comes from reservoirs, rivers, and wells pumped into a water tower. The water then flows into your home through gravity. When the power is out, the only water you'll have access to is whatever is left in the water tower. If you live in an apartment or multiple-story building, water stops working immediately after the outage.
  • Powdered milk and sports drinks also can come in handy, as powdered milk has a long shelf life, and sports drinks often include electrolytes.
  • Flavorings. It might not be something you think of right away, but when sheltering in place and eating the same unflavored canned foods after a while, you'll be happy to have them. Salt and pepper, bullion, honey, and sugar, for example, are great to stock.
  • Fillers and snacks: cereal can last up to a year in its packaging: granola bars, nuts, and trail mixes, crackers.
  • Additionally, stockpiles of MREs are another option for long-lasting, easy-to-make meals.
  • Multivitamins. Why? Because you will most likely not be getting the best nourishment if having to shelter in place and consume your stockpile for an extended time.
  • Self-defense items.

Suggestions on what to stockpile for bugging out (evacuating):

  • Hygiene items. Toilet paper, trash bags, soap, shampoo, toothbrush and toothpaste, feminine hygiene items, diapers, baby wipes, shaving cream, or razers if needed.
  • Well stocked first aid kit or items.
  • Duct tape and wd 40, rope and cord, survival tools, plastic sheeting, tarp or tent, portable stove, candles, and solar-powered flashlights.
  • Pens, pencils, paper
  • Clothing
  • Bleach and water purifying tabs or a Lifestraw
  • Face mask
  • Lighters, matches, or fire-starting kit
  • Disinfectants
  • Pack at least 3 days' worth of meals if possible for a bug-out bag. Unless you have a bug-out vehicle, space will be tight, and you want to carry light. MREs, dehydrated or freeze-dried foods, dry pasta, meat pouches, energy bars, emergency hunting and fishing kit, spork, can opener, metal cooking pot, metal cup, multi survival tool
  • Self-defense items.

Don't actively Engage in Battle

In a city or large town, things can and will escalate very quickly due to many people. Large amounts of people tend to panic, and panic can lead to confusion. There are too many unknown factors, plus your supplies are limited, and you can't afford to deplete them. Don't actively engage in combat if you can help it protect yourself and your limited survival supplies.

Other Tips:

  • Cities and large towns have large bodies of water usually. Use those resources. The water will no doubt need to be filtered. Many lakes have ducks, which can be hunted and killed for food. If that's not something you want to do, you'll need to get creative with scavenging. Look through abandoned restaurants, gyms, drug stores, vending machines, and so on. And pay attention in case others are going for the same resources. Don't gamble with your life over a can of soup.
  • Use abandoned railways or train tracks for bugging out, as they are usually less crowded.
  • Keep doors and windows locked at all times if bugging in.
  • Don't flash walkie-talkies, guns, or supplies. Someone is going to want them.
  • Make a vehicle bug-out kit.
  • Have several bug-out locations.
  • Keep a bandana or handkerchief at all times. Know how to protect yourself from tear gas.

Possibly the most difficult, but if you are genuinely concerned about urban survival where you live in the city—consider moving and living in a secluded or rural area. It's your best bet in avoiding the unique and dangerous situations that can happen in a locked-down city. Remember: being prepared can significantly reduce losses that accompany disasters. Stay safe, stay Tactical.