There's far too many of us living in urban centers. It was 80.7% in the U.S. according to the 2010 census, and you imagine how this figure has been steadily climbing higher as the years have passed. Now think about this for a second. When the SHTF, the vast majority of us are going to be facing the disaster that comes from an urban location, but this seems to go against much of the 'prepper-guidelines' out there that preach living completely off the grid in a self-sustaining homestead. Just because you live in a city it doesn't spell your death sentence when a disaster strikes, but there are a number of challenges you're going to face. Here's what our team at APE Survival recommend getting in order.
Storage space You're probably going to have far less space to store everything you buy, so before you start running crazy in the shops, set a designated area in your home where you're going to keep your emergency supplies. If you're anything like me, you may need to de-clutter first, so set this weekend aside to weed through your belongings and sell or donate everything you no longer need. Be brutal.
The right supplies Spend the next week religiously writing down every single thing you consume. Keep a notepad with you, and write down everything, from your toothbrush in the morning , to the amount of food and drinks you consume. The goal here is to get a rough idea 'how much' of everything you need, so you don't get sidetracked buying survivalist items that you don't ever use.
How you plan to cook Put together a plan that allows you to cook your food off grid, when all the utilities are down. If you've got zero options, there are just-add-water foods, as well as MRE's, but buy a couple first so you can try the taste before you invest hundreds of dollars. Your best option is to find an external space (or a fireplace) where you can setup a camp stove to cook your meals.
Staying hydrated One of the most important supplies you need to survive a crisis is water. Just a few days without water is enough to kill, so make sure you've at least got the FEMA minimums, a gallon a day per person, for at least two weeks' worth. There's also areas you can find water, like the cistern above your toilet, and in your water heater, learn now how you can get this water out for your use, and don't forget all of the filtration systems you need to get it clean for drinking.
Keep in touch Staying in touch throughout a crisis can be difficult, so make preparations now so your entire family knows the plans. We've got two different meeting points at strategic points in the city in case we're not altogether when the SHTF, as well as a host of two-way radios, crank and solar chargers to keep our laptops and phones running, and even a satellite phone so we can make calls no matter what.
Turning the power on For most emergencies having additional sources of light makes sense. If you're in an area prone to earthquakes, refrain from using candles until you've had the building checked for gas leaks, and in the meantime you can use battery powered lamps, flashlights, and glowsticks. Assuming you live in an apartment building, check with your super to ensure the stairway lights run on a generator, and you aren't going to get locked out of your fancy electronic keypad entry when the grid is down.
Sanitation Once the water and power have been out for a couple of days, the pressure on the sewage system is going to cause it to go down, and you're going to need another way to deal with your bodily wastes. Build this into your planning, and get a portable camping toilet to help you ride out the initial crisis. There's many variations to choose from, and you'll thank me when your toilet is no longer functional.
First aid kits This one goes without saying, but take a basic first aid course, and put together a well-stocked first-aid kit to ensure you can treat most ailments at home. I've got a smaller ‘evac’ first aid kit also prepared, that's packed in with my bug out bag so I am not rummaging through trying to grab things when every minute counts.
Your wheels What many survivalists forget is the amount of space they have in the trunk of their car which can be utilized for supplies. In addition to your go-bag, and the emergency kit you already keep in your vehicle, keep water, non-perishable food, and a couple of changes of clothing in your car, just in case. I've also got a portable toolkit that lives in mine, with everything from a hatchet to a gas siphon, because you never know what situation you'll come across, and it pays to be prepared.
Getting out Deciding when to turn tail and evacuate is more important than ever when you live in the city. Would you be able to get yourself, your family, and your kids ready and in the car in under 15 minutes? One of the biggest problems you will face is the crush of people all trying to evacuate on the same roads and freeways, which spells a traffic nightmare. The faster you can evacuate, the better.
Staying on course Most of us know our own neighborhoods like the back of our hand, but if you're finding yourself weaving through unfamiliar parts of the city as you evacuate, having a map on hand will make a big difference and keep you on track. Plus, you can even prepare beforehand and mark important locations en route, as well as different ways out of the city. Keep these points in mind as you prepare to survive an urban disaster. Taking the time to strategically think through what you need, exactly, and the plans you must follow in order to evacuate with speed will serve you well should you ever need to. Just because you live in a city doesn't mean you're doomed when doomsday comes!