Urban Preparedness When SHTF

Urban Preparedness When SHTF

As civilized and advanced as humans are, I believe that when the SHTF, the urban environment will be one of the most difficult to survive in. To clarify, I’m not talking about some rural town or even one with a few thousand people, although these places have difficulties as well. I’m talking about larger cities with tens of thousands to upwards of a million people.


Sure, these cities have lots of structures that can be used for protection and certain resources that will be widely available, at least for a short time. The problem will become the other people. Now, I’m a firm believer in trying to teach others, not through fear but kindness and love, that the safest and quickest course through any disaster is by working together.


Having said that, when people do not understand something or their world turns upside down, they become scared and can become unpredictable and dangerous. Whether you live in a large city, you are visiting or you are just passing through, here are some ways in which to be prepared in an urban environment when the SHTF.


Have emergency supplies on hand.

There are plenty of articles available that instruct you on how to make a survival kit, so I won’t go into too much detail about that.


If you live in a city, then your emergency supplies need to be as robust as possible, especially when it comes to water and food. When surrounded by upwards of millions of people, necessities will fly off the shelf and will become extremely limited faster than most people realize. Most stores, even big box stores, rely on deliveries almost daily to keep shelves stocked. If these deliveries stop most stores will look bare well within a week.


If you are visiting or just traveling through a city and you have a vehicle, then there needs to be a survival kit in your vehicle. The supplies in that kit should also reflect the region in which you are visiting and the number of people in your group.  


Create an EDC Kit 

EDC stands for everyday carry and it is an assortment of items that are on your person at all times. The thought here is that an EDC kit allows a person to always have a bare minimum of gear with them for times when they are away from their main pack or survival kit. 


EDC kits will be different from person to person and the contents will also reflect the environment that a person is in. The items will be based on a person’s needs and abilities but here are a few suggestions for items that can be put into an urban EDC kit. 


Pocket knife

 A knife is helpful in any environment and a folding pocket knife is lightweight and easy to carry.  



These have an assortment of tools that will allow you to tackle hardware and other obstacles in your path. A multitool with large pliers, like a Leatherman, will be the most useful. 


Pocket Flashlight

There are more dark places in an urban environment than there are in the wilderness so spend a few extra bucks on a quality light that is durable and will work when you need it. As a backup, add a LED push light to your keychain. 


Keychain Items 

Keychains offer enough room to add a few items as well such as an emergency signal whistle, a miniature multitool, LED push light, and a water sillcock key. 



Even if you do not smoke, a lighter can come in handy as a light source, for starting a fire, sterilizing tools, and melting or molding certain materials. 


Pocket Map

If your phone’s GPS stops working or the phone becomes lost or broken, a pocket-sized map of the city will help you find your way to safety.



Most transactions these days are electronic, but those systems can easily fail, and when they do you won’t be able to use a card to purchase supplies, services, or a way out of the city. Having some extra cash on hand will allow you to do all the above. 


Know The City 

Get a physical map of the city and spend some time familiarizing yourself with the lay of the land. Know your cardinal directions and mark important features on the map such as police stations, hospitals, fire stations, “bad” neighborhoods to avoid, and escape routes out of the city. 


Practice Situational Awareness

It is important to practice situational awareness all the time, but it becomes even more important to do so in an urban environment because there is so much going on.  


Stay off your phone as much as possible. Unless there is an immediate threat you should never be on your phone while moving. This includes driving and walking. Phones are a huge distraction and in an urban environment, you need to keep your wits about you. 


Also, listen to your gut. You know that uneasy feeling you get in your gut before a situation unfolds? Always listen to that and act appropriately from the get-go. 

Know Your Exits 

I already mentioned that it’s a good idea to know the exit routes out of a city, but you should also know them on a smaller scale. 


When you are in a building, restaurant, zoo, park, or amusement park, take note of where all the exits are and any emergency supplies such as first aid kits and fire extinguishers. 

If you are in a large venue or building, it is helpful to stop what you are doing every once in a while and re-orient yourself to the exits and emergency supplies. 



There is one last thing that I wanted to mention about urban preparedness. If you have inside knowledge or you are just paying attention to the warning signs all around us, the best thing that you can do before SHTF is to leave the city. 


Whether to stay or go is a highly personal and difficult choice to make. However, when the SHTF is in a large city things can deteriorate quickly, leaving you boxed in with dwindling resources and unpredictable situations. 

Thanks for reading and stay prepared. 




Bryan grew up in the Midwest and spent every waking moment outdoors. Learning how to hunt, fish, read the land, and be self-reliant was part of everyday life. Eventually, he combined his passions for the outdoors, emergency preparedness, and writing. Bryan is a published author with Fox Chapel Publishing. In 2019, Bryan authored the book, Swiss Army Knife Camping and Outdoor Survival Guide. In March 2021, he released his second book, Paracord Projects For Camping and Outdoor Survival.

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