Perhaps many people who live in rural areas can survive by “living off the land” when a disaster strikes, but how can people who live in urban areas survive a widespread disaster?
Millions of city dwellers throughout the U.S. the past few years have lost their power and/or were without water due to tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, wildfires, tropical storms, snow and ice storms, earthquakes, and windstorms.
The threads that hold a society together can easily become unraveled when disasters occur, leaving people who are unprepared exposed to numerous threats to their survival. So the key to surviving a disaster is very much the same wherever a person lives, including living in urban areas: preparation.
Urban Survival Tips for Disaster Preparedness
For urban survival, what’s the best way to prepare for and respond to unforeseen disasters and emergencies that may arise?
The following represents some urban survival tips that can help city dwellers make it through unforeseen widespread disasters and emergencies.
Urban Survival Tip: Keep Your Food Cool
One of the most important urban survival tips concerns the food you have that needs refrigeration. When your power goes out, store the items in your freezer close together, so they stay cold longer. Keep in mind that the food in a full freezer will stay frozen for around two days while the food in a half full freezer will stay frozen for approximately one day.
Remember to keep poultry and meat separate from other food items because when they thaw, their juices could contaminate your other food items. Another tip regarding your food: move some of the food from your refrigerator to your freezer. Moreover, to keep the food cold in your refrigerator, use blocked ice or dry ice, if it is available.
Make sure you don’t refreeze thawed food. Use or toss any food that has thawed below 41 degrees as quickly as is feasible. And finally, remember to toss thawed food that has been left at room temperature longer than two hours.
Urban Survival Tip: Stock Your Survival Pantry
Another one of the key urban survival tips concerns the food you store in your pantry. In short, make sure to store lots of nonperishable foods in your survival pantry such as the following:
• Peanut butter
• Canned goods
• Trail mix
• Dry cereal
• Canned or bottled fruit juice
• Dried meat (such as beef jerky and beef sticks)
• Military ready to eat meals (MREs)
• Granola bars
• Dried fruit (like raisins and dates)
• Energy bars
• Electrolyte drinks such as Gatorade or Powerade
Since most canned food has a 3 to 5-year shelf life, make sure you rotate these items in your survival pantry.
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Urban Survival Tip: Water
One of the most important urban survival tips concerns water. Hopefully, you have been storing water in 2-liter soda bottles or bleach bottles and have plenty of water in case your water gets turned off.
You can “beef up” your water supply when a disaster strikes, however, by filling sinks, your bathtub, and empty plastic bottles. Moreover, if you have a swimming pool, make sure you cover it so that the water doesn’t evaporate and also make sure you purify the water with bleach or water purification tablets before drinking.
You can also use the water in your hot water heater tank and the water in your flush tank (not the water in the toiler bowl) if this water is free of chemicals and properly treated with bleach or water purification tablets.
Perhaps the best way to prepare for a lack of water during an emergency is to purchase a “water storage system” that is essentially a 55-gallon food-grade polyethene barrel. Make sure your water storage system comes with water purification tablets, a lid opener, and a siphon hose. At a cost of under $100.00 per water storage system, and depending how large your family is, you should consider getting more than one of these systems.
Urban Survival Tip: Basic Tools
Here’s one of the most overlooked urban survival tips. Every household needs to have some basic tools that will become essential during or after a disaster.
Some of these tools include: a socket set, hammer, screwdriver set, pliers, large adjustable wrench for shutting off utilities, multi-purpose knife, shovel, hand saw, manual can opener and a multi-tool. Unfortunately, having basic tools is one of the urban survival tips that many people disregard.
Urban Survival Tip: Stay Informed
Another one of the key urban survival tips that several people apparently disregard concerns ways to stay informed during and after a disaster. Indeed, in a widespread crisis situation, it will be critically important to stay abreast of the latest developments and news about the disaster that has adversely impacted your living space and your immediate environment.
To ensure that you are able to receive the latest news, get a radio that can be hand-cranked AND that is solar or battery powered.
Local or regional news on the radio can not only provide you with directions to the nearest shelter but it can also alert you about an imminent storm and provide you with information about how long a water disruption or power outage is likely to last.
Urban Survival Tip: Have a Disaster Preparedness Plan
In a sense, all of the above mentioned urban survival tips can be included in a detailed disaster and comprehensive preparedness plan. Such a disaster preparedness plan, in addition to having an emergency supply of food, water, tools, and information, should include the following:
• Fire Escape Plan that every family members knows. Practice having “fire drills” so that everyone knows precisely what to do in case of fire.
• Meeting Place Plan that establishes a meeting place in case a disaster happens while you and your family members are away from home.
• Emergency Phone List Plan that lists first responders, local hospitals, city hall, and so on.
• Contact List Plan that contains a list of friends or relatives in other geographic locations who can be called in case your family members become separated.
• Alternate Energy Plan so that you can generate emergency electricity. Suggestions include hand-cranked radios that can be used to charge a cell phone and portable solar panels that can power laptop computers and charge laptop batteries.
• Evacuation Plan. In case you have to evacuate your house or apartment, make sure every family member has his or her own bug out bag that contains at least a 3-day supply of emergency survival food, water, toiletry items, prescription medications, extra clothes, first aid supplies, a cigarette lighter or waterproof matches, a flashlight, a hand-cranked or solar or battery-powered radio (with extra batteries), local maps, a compass, extra cash, and a cell phone and charger. Plan ahead exactly where everyone should go in case you need to leave your house or apartment or your city or town.
Urban Survival Tips: Conclusion
By preparing in advance, you and your family will have the food, water, tools, and information you need to survive most urban disasters and emergencies.
And in case you and your family need to evacuate your house or apartment or your city or town, preparation for this eventuality in the form of having a bug out bag for every family member and an evacuation plan will help you and your family survive as you relocate to a safer, more secure location is one of the most important urban survival tips you can follow.
In short, you and your family need a detailed and comprehensive disaster preparedness plan and need to follow solid urban survival tips so that you are prepared ahead of time to survive most urban emergencies and disasters.