Urban Survival

On occasion, I have heard people ask how to survive in an Urban or suburban situation when a large scale disaster,  economic collapse (or whatever scenario you would like to insert here) happens where this is a lengthy breakdown of services.  At the bottom of this page, for your information, is a statistical chart of of the percentage of U.S. citizens living in urban areas according to the 2000 census.  As 60 - 80% of Americans live in urban areas, depending upon the population criteria, I am sure that this is a question that LOTS of people are asking.

I have a two word answer for you that sums up my opinion on the matter........


You may, in a localized, short term emergency, if you have adequate supplies, be okay sheltering in place.  However, one only has to look as far back as Katrina to see that it can be very difficult.  Even those whose homes were not flooded had to protect their homes with firepower and even then, their weapons were unconstitutionally confiscated by the National Guard and they were eventually driven from their homes at gunpoint by a "well meaning" government.  Even those who plead to be able to stay in their homes because they had the food and means to survive were not left behind.  I picked out one of the many videos available to showcase the situation here below.


For an interesting post-Katrina run down by someone who lived just outside the area, please follow this link.  It will be highly educational!

As to long term survival in place in an urban or neighborhood type setting, forget it.  Unless you are one of the bad guys and intend on surviving by taking from others, then you will need to have an evacuation plan in place.  Here are the problems with Urban or neighborhood survival as I see them and a very quick cursory description.  Let your mind wander a bit on each section and play out the scenario in your mind....

1.  Food - Grocery stores only keep, on average 2 days worth of food on their shelves.  This will empty quickly in any emergency type situation.  Think about what happens in the South when someone mentions snow!  What isn't legally bought, will quickly be looted.  We are not Japan.  People here have a tendency to loot quickly.  Cities and neighborhoods are dependent almost entirely on the ability of trucks to bring in their supplies.  Ask yourself how you would sustainably feed yourself for any long period of time without a re-supply.

2.  Water- More than likely you are on a municipal water supply.  This will break down quickly.  It is very difficult to store large amounts of water in the city and any water supplies close by will quickly become polluted and dangerous to drink.  Remember, your body can only live three days without water.  Think about the amount of water you need to simply cook and wash your dishes.  How about hygiene?  

3.  Security - With both of the above items running out fast, there will be lots of people trying to get what you have.  They will be persistent, they will eventually come in packs and will likely be armed.  How do you intend on fending of a group of 5 or more people intent on taking your supplies.  Chances are, that they might not mind killing you to get them.  How are you going to be on guard 24 hours a day?  Keep in mind, that once the social norms have been breached by a few, the flood gates will open.  Look at the Rodney King riots and do some reading about the mob mentality. 

4.  Disease - Think cholera, plague and any number of other diseases brought on by large populations with no ability to have proper hygiene, no clean water supply and no sewage facilities.........

An excellent read that will cover most of these items is One Second After by William R.  Fortschen.

So, what is my advise???  As soon as you are able......MOVE.  I would use a large portion of your survival budget, if you have one, and focus it on GETTING THE HECK OUTA Dodge!  If you cannot, for whatever reason leave the city or suburbs, it is imperative that you have an evacuation (bug-out) plan.  If at all possible, keep your supplies at a friend or relative's place in the country, then only store 10 days worth of food in your house and make sure you have a adequate bug-out bag for evacuation, along with a plan on how to get from point A to point B even if you have to hoof it, which you may....Keep in mind, everyone else will be trying to do the same and you may have gridlock or no availability of fuel. 

Census 2000 Population Statistics

U.S. Population Living in Urban vs. Rural Areas 1

Geographic Division:# of AreasTotal PopulationPercent of U.S. Total
Total U.S. Population  285,230,516100
Population living in Urban Areas 2 3,629225,956,06079.219
Population living in Rural Areas  59,274,45620.781
Urban Area Categories:    
1. Urbanized Areas over 200,000 population 153166,215,88958.274
2. Urbanized Areas 50,000 - 199,999 population 31029,584,62610.372
3. Urban Clusters 5,000 - 49,999 population 183825,438,2758.918
4. Urban Clusters 2,500 - 4,999 population 13284,717,2701.654

1U.S. population is defined as residents of the 50 States, plus the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. It does not include residents of the U.S. Virgin Islands or U.S. Pacific Trust Territories.

2Urban areas include all urbanized areas (over 50,000 population) and Urban Clusters (2,500 to 49,999 population) as defined by the Bureau of the Census in the 2000 Decennial Census.