Manmade and natural disasters happen unexpectedly and with a ferocity that will cost many people their lives. There may be nothing you can do to prevent a hurricane, flood, tornado, electrical power failure, or terrorist attack, but you do have the power to effect the outcome of how a disaster affects you and your family. You’re warm and secure one moment and then find your home damaged or gone the next. Suddenly you’re on your own in the city trying to survive.
The success of using outdoor survival skills in the city depend on the equipment and provisions you’ve got on hand. Each survival situation is different but there are seven important things you should have securely stored and accessible long before an emergency hits.
Here’s what you need.
Drinkable water is the critical necessity. Every person needs a minimum of a gallon of water a day to stay healthy. After a disaster the city water delivery system may be destroyed and the sinks run dry. Store enough sealed, bottled water in a safe place to last you and your family for at least a few days. Large plastic barrels of water can be stored for long periods of time if bleach is added before the container is sealed.
Food is the next important consideration. Canned foods that don’t need to be cooked are portable and ideal for survival situations in the city. Military MREs and other dried foods weigh less but generally require some preparation. Weigh the convenience and light carrying weight of freeze-dried MREs with the expense of stocking up on them. Keep matches and a small pot handy to cook with using tree limbs and lumber that will probably be on the ground.
Shelter against the elements is also imperative. When the power is a generator can provide minimal heat and light. If you can still inhabit your home the generator will ease the loss of electricity and allow some semblance of normalcy. In the worse case scenario a tent will have to do. Make sure you have a few days worth of gasoline stored on site away from your home to fuel your generator.
Communications such as cell phones and ham radios can be powered by battery chargers if necessary. The ability to communicate and receive news from outside of the disaster area allows you to tell rescuers where you are. A simple AM/FM radio that runs on batteries will at least let you know the extent of the disaster, hear of any instructions being given to the affected population, and keep you informed of changing conditions. Being in touch with the outside world will help you decide on waiting for help where you are or leaving to find safety.
First aid supplies can save your own or someone else’s life. Band-aids, first-aid cream, and a bottle of aspirins go a long way to make your stay in the outdoors more comfortable. Major storms, terrorist attacks, and other disasters take a huge toll in human life and suffering so be prepared to help not only yourself but other survivors. A first-aid book will help you handle medical emergencies you’re not used to treating. A disaster may easily result in burn victims, broken bones, and exposure to severe weather.
Personal protection is a disputed issue and the level of force justifiable to protect property is both a legal and a moral issue. Disasters cripple the effectiveness of the police to maintain the role of keeping the peace and preventing crime. Disasters often require law enforcement officers assist in rescue operations and evacuations. You may find yourself the guardian of your fate in a lawless situation. Disasters bring out the worse in people. Riots, looting, fire setting, and other criminal acts committed on those who are already traumatized are common. When food and water are scarce they become precious commodities worth hurting someone to obtain. Many urban areas strictly limit the possession and use of firearms so having a gun on hand to protect you and your family may not be an option. Consider investing in a can of OC spray, more commonly called mace, that when sprayed into an attacker’s face temporarily blinds and disorients him.