12 Urban Survival Skills That Will Help You Survive A Disaster

12 Urban Survival Skills That Will Help You Survive A Disaster

by Brandon Hunt


When it comes to survival skills, most of us tend to think of them in the context of wilderness survival, which is fine — except that about 82% of people in the U.S. live in an urban area. It also means that urban survival skills need to focus on the problems of a different environment.

It’s possible you might be forced out of urban areas and into some kind of wilderness…or if you’re lucky enough to have a place outside of the city, you may have to hike there. The way I see it, many wilderness skills can adapt to urban environments, such as knowing how to purify water — you’ll need it no matter what the setting is.

Whether you live in a city or the country, survival skills are necessary. Though many skills can cross over, you have to consider the particular needs and problems a city presents. Hopefully this post will help raise your awareness of urban challenges that result from unexpected emergencies.

The Urban Side 

Okay. So what is a problem with living in or near an urban city/area?

Well, look at it this way…

Crowded places, a lot of people, a finite food supply….

You get the idea. It’s the reality that no matter where we live, we’re affected by our environment.

We are all dependent upon everything running smoothly in our society, and that goes more so for urban areas. They are not exactly farming friendly areas.

Another question you should ask yourself is, do you have the skills to survive in an urban area…in case disaster strikes?

You’ll likely find you’re deficient in a few areas. It’s better to find out now what you need to learn, rather than in the middle of a disaster.

You can always learn. And many of the skills for surviving in an urban area are ones you can learn and prepare for in your spare time, or even during your day-to-day routine.

The Skills

I’m not offering 50 skills or solutions you need to know right now for urban survival. That’s way too overwhelming and easy to forget. 

Heck, I’m worried 12 might be too much to remember. 

Anyway, at least thinking about how to survive an urban disaster is a good exercise. If you don’t prepare physically, at least prepare mentally.

So, what do you need to know to survive an urban collapse?

Here are some suggestions:

1– Find urban water sources: Even in cities you can find sources of water. Identify those sources. The sources can include water heaters, the toilet tank (not bowl), rain water, and irrigation sources. Search for water storage systems. Find and know how to use a silcock ring, as many water sources in the city require a silcock ring.

2– Filter and purify water: Boil water. Use a little bleach. Use filters. Learn how to make DIY water filters. Use water purification tablets.

3– Scavenge for food: In an urban area you might not have capacity for large food storage. You’ll eventually run out of what food you do have stored. You may have to lower your standards when foraging for food in the city. With a little thinking, you’ll know where to look for food, since a lot of it is wasted or just thrown out. Still, you can find some places in the city where edible plants grow, though you may want to brush up on your identifying edible plants skills.

4– First Aid: Go beyond the basics of applying bandages. Some advanced knowledge of first aid is an invaluable skill. Knowing how to treat serious injuries or having the means to fight off bacterial illnesses is a must. 

5– Self-Defense: This one is best learned through some training courses – the kind you attend in person and not the YouTube variety. There’s quite a few people out there offering defense technique videos; however, what they offer might end up getting your hurt. Use common sense when looking into self-defense. The best forms are usually easy and brutal methods — even Bruce Lee was not above using any means in a fight, even biting. Also, non-lethal tools, like pepper spray, are great options. Also, learn and practice situational awareness. Being cognizant of your surroundings is the first step in avoiding conflict.

6– How to make improvised weapons: Like Jason Bourne using a rolled up magazine or John Wick’s pencil, many everyday items can become weapons. You may have to use whatever is at hand.

7– Learn how to be a gray man: It’s all about blending in, not drawing attention to yourself. Learn how to move through the city by disappearing in the crowd. This one can be fun to practice with friends or family. 

8– Find or build shelter if you’re on the move: If you’re unable to stay in your home for whatever reason, knowing how to find or build a shelter is one of the top categories of survival. Carrying an emergency tent or blanket in a backpack is a sensible habit, as they can be used in a variety of ways in shelter building…and so much more.

9– How to manage waste: No matter what is going on, the human body continues to function and produce waste. If that waste is not managed in a clean way, then you’re setting yourself up for serious illnesses. Fortunately, these days you can find emergency products designed to deal with the waste and keep your place hygienic. 

10– Physical condition: The better health and physical condition you’re in the better your chances of survival. In an urban collapse, your feet might be the only mode of transportation. Now is the best time to build your strength and endurance. And, if you never face an emergency, you’ll at least be healthy and looking good.

11– Escape a riot (escape and evasion): We’ve seen some of these in the past few years, haven’t we? Mob rule doesn’t exactly showcase the best of people. Individuality has a tendency to vanish. If you happen to get caught up in a riot or mob of people, try to leave before the real craziness occurs. On the other hand if you can’t extricate early on, it’s best to use those gray man skills you’ve acquired, and blend in and look for an opportunity to ditch out. You never know how people will react, so avoid doing anything that draws attention to yourself.

12– Be adaptable: You can’t control what happens. The best you can do is prepare ahead and adapt to changing conditions. If you’ve studied and prepped, then you have a store of knowledge you can rely on to help you overcome problems.

Still More to Learn

Are these the end all, be all of urban survival skills?

Not by a long shot. As I mentioned earlier, other sites run through 50 or more skills you should know. 

I say start small with the learning process. Take it in bite sized chunks. There are so many variables to surviving, the idea itself can feel overwhelming. 

Like I said, 12 skills might be too big to start with. My intent is to at least get you thinking about your skill set, and considering how you might survive an urban upheaval. 

Our purpose (meaning Emergency Zone) is to not only give you tools and supplies for preparing, but also knowledge.

So, take advantage of our newsletter to read our latest posts — you know, gain that knowledge on emergency survival — or to see the latest preparation gear that’s on sale

The End

Just to be clear, I’m not trying to scare anyone, nor am I saying we’re in for a complete collapse any time soon. I can’t predict what’s ahead.

However, since our passion (here at Emergenzy Zone) is to help people consider the possibility of disasters, we try to cover a myriad of scenarios people might face.

The fact is cities and large towns are filled with people. And another fact is, urban centers and outlying areas are not self-sufficient, and rely on the smooth operation of receiving supplies. 

We're never more vulnerable than when we think ourselves most secure.

Now is the time to prepare; now is the time to learn new skills. The last two years and recent events show how fragile our world is. 

So, take stock of your environment and use the above ideas to help you make plans and prepare. 

If you’re inclined, please let us know if posts like this are useful, or even share your ideas with us. We’d love to hear from you.

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Betty - March 10, 2022

Great Tips! You covered things I haven’t thought of before. The article was informative and enjoyable to read!

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