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* Urban Survival – Advice For Beginners *

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This article does not negate planning for long-term survival or the the eventual move to the desirable country/rural life. It's a here & now article.


* Urban Survival – Advice For Beginners *

By: Haumana

19 September 2004


Planning and preparing for survival articles are most often published with a slant towards those who live in a single-family dwelling in suburban and rural areas. That situation may not apply to some folks. What is the urban person to do? I am not a security specialist, but I chose to live in an apartment with wife and infant daughter during a 3 years-long job. Therefore, even though I have put thought and work into “urban survival,” please take my advice as being in the ‘for what it’s worth’ category and do your research and work beyond this very basic article.


First, one should understand that daily urban survival is mission essential, so don’t get caught in only the long-term, end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it disaster mode thinking – keep this in mind throughout your planning and preps. This doesn’t reduce the need to prepare for major disasters, but that mindset is not the same as learning how to walk down a street while being an undesirable and little noticed target of opportunity. <span style="font-weight: bold">You’ll have to develop and hone skills and preparations in both areas.</span>


The following general information on starting out in urban survival is based on personal experience and research. It deals mostly with selecting urban dwellings:


1. Finances: If you have money, you can afford to make choices. This speaks for itself. As always, learn to be frugal and stay out of debt. If you don’t have sufficient funds, creativity will be essential.


2. Location, location, location…: Selecting a dwelling is the critical part of this. For Americans having overseas posting with various government agencies and some companies, a threat assessment is made for the city/country/region and dwellings off embassy property are ‘allowed’ only if they me the minimum criteria for the local threat level. Your criteria for a dwelling should be just as methodical and as selective as availability and your situation permit. Selecting a neighborhood with multiple egress routes, low crime rates, close access to services, low potential of damage from flooding and other natural disasters starts your search. Closeness to “mutual support” partners in the area may also figure into this. The being close to your frequent work sites can save money on gasoline, but is not a main factor in security (although one must be practical). However, your routes to and from work should be planned to minimize risk exposure.


3. Transportation: If you hope to leave the city in advance of a predictable problem, you will need your own vehicle. If you have limited choice in where you will live and bugging out is not an option for you, then selecting and securing a dwelling is paramount. In such a situation, transportation issues will focus on daily transportation security and anticipate the breakdown of public transit systems during disasters/crises.


4. Apartment vs. Cluster units vs. Rental home: Location and availability often dictate your options. In all instances, here are some common desirable/required features that one should try to achieve:

* Solid overall construction. This is no different than looking for desirable construction when purchasing a house. You have seen the esthetically fair and flimsily built stuff that’s out there. Older buildings may be more desirable than you think. Look carefully before you sign a lease.

* Off-street and, preferably protected parking – 50-100 ft from the road is desirable.

* Well built protective surrounding wall/enclosure – 6-10 ft high is considered prime height.

* Grounds are adequately illuminated.

* Solidly built doors and frames at ALL entry-exit portals and dead-bolt locks (keyed if w/i 40” (1 meter) reach of any glass. If the entry portals are the only problem with the place, try to insert a clause in lease that allows you to replace (or negotiate to have the owner replace) any doors that are not up to specs and to allow you to re-key or replace locks at your discretion.

* If below the 4th floor, security-type grills for windows and doors w/ expanses of glass (got to have secondary egress from rooms with these grills). One advantage of living in a ground-floor dwelling is that the floor usually has more static and dynamic load-bearing capacity; keep that in mind, because of the need to store water, etc.

* Security system: This is a tougher one. A lot depends on how long you plan to occupy the dwelling and other variables. At a minimum, you should have the capability to observe the exterior areas at entry-exit doors. See other resources for planning this one and let them help you.

* Get more bedrooms than you need…I won’t bore you with the obvious reasons for this, but a saferoom with limited alternative power here is the labor intensive task worth doing and the extra storage space makes organizing your preps easier


5. Either have rural retreat or learn small scale gardening: Your decision to stay in a city/urban area is one that I viewed as a temporary “evil.” I had family and friends w/i 2 hours of our apartment and pre-positioned limited resources. That was a start, but it wasn’t that hard to learn indoor gardening. Much indoor gardening is based on electricity being available for “grow lights” or a dwelling that has an outdoor area or lots of glass for sunlight. If you are a long-term urban survivalist, don’t just research this…get experience.


6. Get to know your neighbors: Ideally, you'll do an ‘augenblink’ (a quickie “eye blink”) sizing up before you sign a lease and hope that you were correct in your assessment. Certainly, you want to know them after you move in.


There is a lot more to urban survival than this. If you have specific questions, there are people and resources far more qualified than I am who can offer advice. For a military take on “urban survival,” you should consider reading Wiseman’s SAS urban survival guide and Army/military reference materials on MOUT (Military Operations in Urban Terrain/Territory). Home security reference are numerous; Joel Skousen's "The Secure Home" and Dan Bower's "Make Your Home Into Your Castle" are two books worth reading. Mr. Skousen has a website.


Remember, thousands of “homeless” people and people in war zones practice urban survival every day. It is not an academic exercise and it can be done, so get busy.







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That's a great start on urban survival. I'd like to see more of this. Thanks for the post.


(((( ))))

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  • 4 months later...

Because it fits here, I shamelessly stole this post off of my blog. I hope no one ever needs to put any of this to use, but as a Katrina survivor, I can give you this little "cheat sheet" in case you are ever put to the test...




Urban Survival During a Severe Crisis


Natural or manmade disasters can befall any community. That can be bad enough, but in the inner cities especially, things can get real ugly in a hurry. There, extreme duress can bring out the very darkest side of humanity. It is the kind of stuff that used to shock the world: widespread rioting, looting, and general mayhem triggered by things such as electricity outages, court decisions, or even just general fed-upness of the people...such as what happened in France not that long ago. Then there's Katrina...where even rural and small town communities were raped and plundered by out of town gangs, and even by their own neighbors.


If you ever find yourself in a severe crisis situation that turns your world upside down, and your fellow man turn into predators, here are a few lessons borrowed from Katrina H ell that might help you survive:



1. Water is top priority! Lots of pure drinking water, and the ways and means of purifying the worst possible polluted water. Think viruses (pandemics), radiation, sewage, industrial accidents and other toxic scenarios. Do NOT even count on rain. After Katrina, it did not rain for weeks. Droughts happen.


Prep action: Scout out all possible sources of water now. A Google-search using the keywords "hydrology" and "hydrology maps" and your location could be rich with little known sources of water. A good hydrology map will reveal abandoned wells, natural springs, streams and other sources of water in your area.



2. Prep for various ways and means for purifying water and cooking meals. My portable "mess kit" has saved me much grief over the years. I keep one at home and another in my vehicle. It is a sturdy school-style backpack that contains a few propane bottles, a single burner rig that screws onto the propane bottles, plus other ways and means of "making heat", boiling water and cooking foods: pots, utensils, homemade "hobo stoves" (more on that in a future article), alcohol, candles, Sterno fuel, a flint & steel kit, Bic lighters, matches, and a few pieces of heavy duty aluminum foil to serve as wind foils and as a pot "lid".



3. Prep heavily on low profile heat-and-eats, MREs, dehydrated stuff, instant meals, and canned goods that also conserve fuel, which will likely be limited.


Concentrate on low, low profile meals, as in NO COOKING ODORS. You would be amazed at how far the odor trail goes...and the trouble it can bring back to you.



4. Secret temporary retreats (important if you are few in number, or could possibly be overrun). This can be inside fake walls, fake closet backs, etc. Use your imagination and plan ahead of time. Preparing for this possibility now may be your saving grace later.



5. Low tech barrier "alarms" might buy time for you to prepare for fight or flight. Almost a hundred years ago, some French Quarter residents would place large broken pieces of slate on the ground beneath the windows, so that the crunching sound of the intruder's footfalls could alert the householders. Some still do. Use your imagination with whatever materials are handy...


During the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, I strung clean empty tin cans (with a small hole punched near the open top for passing a string through) and beer cans onto fishing string. Then strings of cans were tied to gether in such a way that it made a hellacious racket at the slightest movement. I pinned bunches of them onto curtains, and also used them in other rigged up contraptions that made lot of noise if triggered...



6. If your home/apartment already looks looted, AND uninviting in an unappealing kind of way...gangs, and other Bad Guys will move on quickly.


Edited to add: This advice may only useful in certain situations (such as mentioned in #4, "IF you are few in number, or could possibly be overrun", and if you decide to hide or leave the area...). Every situation is different. More on this in a future article.


Prep item: (don't laugh) large jars of superstinky homemade catfish bait with screw lid caps. These can be opened and hidden near likely points of entry, and in the kitchen area, etc.


Heh. Now the Bad Guys think the place has already been picked over AND there's something dead and rotten in there...Although this is not likely to prevent looting, at least they won't be likely to camp out at your place. Of course, in the aftermath of Katrina, there was no shortage of stinky stuff from dead freezers to put into jars...No shortage of other dead stuff, either.


PureCajunSunshine's Looter Repellant...duh huh...in the most desperate of situations, this plan really does work, I guarantee. Almost too (gag) good.





This may be reprinted by you for noncommercial use, if the following credit is given:


This article is an excerpt from Mrs. Tightwad's Handbook #1: HOW TO SURVIVE DISASTERS AND OTHER HARD TIMES. For more information, see the left sidebar on this site: http://purecajunsunshine.blogspot.com/

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  • 6 months later...
  • 1 year later...

I hadn't seen either of those articles - great info for the beginner!


I thought I'd add a note about safety:


My husband and I have 3 (with one to come!) children, 5 years old and younger - so we are definitely still in the 'baby' stage with gates at the top and bottom of our stairs.


The gates we have are the kind that screw into the wooden post, not the plastic kind with a pressure hinge.


Before going to bed at night, we *always* put up both gates. There is no way that you can undo the gate at the top of the stairs without waking us up. It's pretty loud to get undone! And there is no way that you could get up our stairs, just by stepping over the gate - unless your legs are 5 feet long. It's practically impossible to step over the gate going UP the stairs. Even if you could, it would jar the gate and make noise.


I realize that this is a last-ditch measure at hearing an intruder inside your home. However, hearing that gate open still gives my hubby plenty of time to reach over and get his gun beside the bed. ;)

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  • 1 year later...
  • 11 months later...

Catfish bait here I come! We hid some once in the talking piece of a fellow workers phone...too funny!!! She thought she was having a bad morning of bad breath LOL...what a hoot when we finally told her what we'd done...:sHa_sarcasticlol:

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