City Survival Basics

The idea of needing to survive after a disaster is a common one, and being prepared is definitely a good idea, especially as unrest grows. Most people consider bugging out and living in a wooded area near a stream and teach themselves to build a fire and forage for food. These are good skills to have. However, there may be a possibility of needing to survive in an urban area. The skills needed to survive in a city are not necessarily the same as the ones needed in the wild.

It is also different in a city setting due to other people. Criminals do not disappear just because a disaster happens; in fact, there will be a greater chance of running into someone who has nefarious intent.


The first thing needed in any survival situation is shelter. No matter what has happened, if there is a safe and dry place to stay, things will be so much easier to handle. Ideally, shelter would be home, but there are situations where home is not safe or accessible. In some situations, people chase others out of their homes. In other situations, home is damaged or destroyed. It is important to consider where to go if this happens.

Planning to hunker down at home is an excellent Plan A. Making a safe room will help with security in the case of an issue. Someone said that circles of safety are a good way to handle security. Start with a secure room, then the whole house or apartment, then the yard, and so on. A steel door with a peephole (so whoever is outside is visible before opening the door) and a good deadbolt lock. Having proper equipment such as smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, and carbon monoxide detectors, and alarms at the windows.

It is important to have a Plan B, too. It does not hurt to keep an eye out when driving around town to look for areas that would be useful for shelter in a pinch. Remember that it will be better to have a place to stay in one place, if possible. Fuel for vehicles is likely to be limited. A nice tarp or easy to pitch tent may be useful, but if the disaster is something long-term that may cause others to try to get supplies that you stored, then making a shelter that blends in to the landscape may be a safer way to go.

Food and Water

One can live without food much longer than without water. However, even though it is possible, that does not mean it is desirable! Having some emergency food stored is a great idea, and there are many wild foods that can be scavenged, but these may be more difficult to find in an urban landscape. Still, even in the city, some things still grow, such as dandelions (which are very nutritious and usually very easy to find). In a severe catastrophe situation, though, these will quickly be depleted.

Even in a city, there is usually a place to plant a small garden, and it is wise to do so whenever possible. Some capsule-style gardens can sustain themselves and provide food all year round with only a little attention. Sprouts, which are nutritious but take up little space, are a great way to grow food in a small area.

Prepackaged emergency food is made to sit on a shelf up to 25 years or more, so those who can afford it may want to invest in storing up some of these just in case.

Water can be more difficult. If the water coming in through the city pipes becomes contaminated, having clean water can become a real challenge. Having some stored will help but refilling the containers might not be so easy. Having a way to boil the water, filters to get out impurities, and tablets to help purify the water will help to provide clean water longer. Learning the best way to use water purification techniques and when to use them is a skill everyone should strive to learn.

It is helpful to have means to collect water from rain runoff. Pools for toddlers are an easy-to-use and relatively easy to store option. These can be purchased on clearance and stored under a bed.


A well-stocked medicine kit is a must-have for a disaster or emergency situation. Basic first aid should be included, of course, along with basic pain medications and anything else that is needed for the individuals of the household, such as prescriptions.

Another good thing to have is a field guide. Many herbs and plants are good for medicinal use. Knowing which grow in the area can help if an emergency arises or sickness or injury happens and drugstores are not available. Using these items when there is not a disaster can aid in being able to use them well if it becomes necessary, so it is good to learn to identify them and use them for everyday first aid, as well.


It may be necessary to defend one’s self, family, or place of shelter. Whether or not weapons are a usual part of one’s life, they may become necessary in a time of disaster. Firearms can be good deterrents to criminal activity, even without actually firing them, and in a situation where lives are in danger, a firearm handled properly will quickly remove the threat. Because of the need to be handled properly, those who have firearms for defense should regularly fire them at a range. If anyone who might be using the gun is uncomfortable with it, most areas have gun use classes that can teach how to properly hold, load, unload, clean, and fire a weapon. It is wise to learn as much as possible about the weapon chosen.

Knives may be useful as a weapon, but remember that if the opponent has a firearm, a knife will be of limited help.

Where to Buy
Concrete Jungle: A Green Beret's guide to Urban Survival Paperback – June 9, 2020
Prepper's Long-Term Survival Guide: Food, Shelter, Security, Off-the-Grid Power and More Life-Saving Strategies for Self-Sufficient Living Paperback – March 8, 2020
SAS Urban Survival Handbook: How to Protect Yourself Against Terrorism, Natural Disasters, Fires, Home Invasions, and Everyday Health and Safety Hazards Paperback – May 1, 2018
Street Survival Skills: Tips, Tricks and Tactics for Modern Survival Paperback – August 11, 2019
Tom Brown's Field Guide to City and Suburban Survival Paperback – March 15, 1986
The Ultimate Survival Medicine Guide: Emergency Preparedness for ANY Disaster Paperback – Abridged, August 4, 2015
Urban Survival Guide: Learn The Secrets Of Urban Survival To Keep You Alive After Man-Made Disasters, Natural Disasters, and Breakdowns In Civil Order Paperback – March 26, 2010
Urban survival: How to survive after a Pandemic Paperback – April 19, 2020
Emergency Zone 4 Person Urban Survival 72-Hour Bug Out/Go Bag | Perfect Way to Prepare Your Family | Be Ready for Disasters Like Hurricanes, Earthquake, Wildfire, Floods



1. Concrete Jungle: A Green Beret’s Guide to Urban Survival

Special Forces are known to be the best of the best, and this book, written by a retired Green Beret, teaches survival with the skill set he learned in the service.

2. Prepper’s Long-Term Survival Guide

Preparing for survival after a disaster will be much easier with this survival guide which will show step by step how to complete projects and use techniques and strategies to survive indefinitely.

3. SAS Urban Survival Handbook

This offers wisdom on how to protect yourself and your household from terrorism, natural disasters, fire, home invasions, and other health hazards and safety hazards.

4. Street Survival Skills

Surviving in the modern world is different than surviving in a wilderness and as a recluse. This book offers tips and tricks as well as tactics for security, awareness, and preparedness.

5. Tom Brown’s Field Guide to City and Suburban Survival

A practical survival guide for city and suburban survival contains knowledge and skills that will be useful in nearly any emergency situation, including sources of light and heat, protection, food sources, surviving natural disasters, and protecting against crime.

6. The Ultimate Survival Medicine Guide

A unique medical book written by medical experts, this book will aid the average person in handling illness and injuries in a catastrophe when doctors and hospitals are not available.

7. Urban Survival Guide

This guide looks at surviving after such catastrophes as man-made disasters, natural disasters, and other things that mess up the order of civil life.

8. Urban Survival: How to Survive After a Pandemic

Pandemics happen, as the world is currently excruciatingly aware. When something like this happens, it can cause serious changes in the world. Knowing how to move on with life after a pandemic wreaks havoc can relieve some of the anxiety that can be caused by the situation.

9. 4-Person Survival 72-Hour Bug Out / Go Bag

A prepackaged bag will aid in the survival of four people for 72 hours after any type of disaster.