It stands to reason that people who live in sparsely populated regions have an advantage over those who live in more crowded areas in the event of any natural calamity or disaster. The sheer population density found in cities greatly increases the risk of injury during the actual event, as well as the threat from violence in the ensuing aftermath. In addition, the presence of more people means that there will be more competition for any resources that are available and necessary for survival, such as food, water and medical care. However, not everyone has the luxury or even the desire to be able to make their home in a rural area, even if it might prove to be safer. This week, our doomsday prep focus will be on the urban family and the things they can do to prepare themselves to survive and thrive should some type of natural calamity, terrorist attack or other disaster event take place.
Have a Backup Location
The recommendation to have a backup location may sound strange in a segment about prepping for the urban family, but actually, it is probably one of the most important preparations that an urban family can make. Unless you happen to live in a very rare urban area where you can depend upon having access to potable water, food and safe shelter, your family’s health and survival will depend upon getting to a less populated area, and doing so as soon as possible after the initial event.
The question of where you should go will depend upon your actual situation and what is available near you. It could be the home or farm of a friend or family member, uninhabited wilderness areas, state or national parkland or any area where you will be able to be safely hunker down and regroup.
When choosing the best location for your family, consider the following factors:
- Depending on the size of the city where you live, look for a backup location that is at least a full tank of gas away from your urban area. This is because most people have less than a full tank of gas on hand at any time, and many have less than a half-tank. In the hours and days after a natural calamity or disaster, those that flee cities will likely be stranded once their vehicles run out of gas and you will want your backup location to be well outside this range. In order to make this work, you must begin now to ensure that your car’s tank is topped off frequently and learn to keep and rotate some additional containers of gas, if at all possible.
- When scouting for the best location, look for one with access to a water source that is either potable or can be filtered, such as fresh water rivers, creeks, springs and lakes. In addition, look for an area that offers the best possible potential for food, such as an area where you can hunt, fish, garden or forage easily.
- Make sure that the backup location you choose provides shelter in an area that is well away from major travel routes and roadways that are likely to be used by those also fleeing from the areas hardest hit by the natural calamity or disaster.
- Lastly, determine at least three potential routes to get to the property and practice them often so that you will be able to pack quickly and easily make your way to safety when each second becomes critical.
Prepare for System & Supply Outages
In the event of a natural calamity or disaster, urban families will likely be impacted faster and more severely than those who live in a sparsely populated area. One reason for this is that urban apartments, condos and homes are typically smaller and lack abundant storage space for doomsday prep supplies and gear.
Even when living in small spaces, however, it is important that you prepare for system and supply outages to enhance your chances of staying safe in an extremely chaotic situation. Some suggestions for this include:
- Keeping a supply of cash on hand to help you purchase fuel or food when ATMs, credit cards and paper or electronic checks are not being accepted. Make sure that the amount of cash you keep is ample enough to purchase food, fuel and water for at least several days and keep this cash in a secure, but easy to access location. DO NOT keep it in a bank account or safety deposit box as it may not be accessible to you when needed during a crisis.
- Keep the gas tank full on each vehicle, as well as an extra can or two of gas, if you have a garage or other secure outdoor space to store them. If you cannot store gas safely where you currently live, keep some empty gas cans in the trunk of your car and fill them at the earliest opportunity after a natural calamity or disaster event.
- Even though you will be leaving for your backup location quickly, make sure that even the smallest apartment is stocked with at least 30 days of water for each person who lives there. According to FEMA guidelines, you should stock one gallon of water per person, per day. If you cannot store enough water, make sure that you have some good quality personal water purification supplies on hand that will allow you to use most any available water source, such as water in the toilet tank, hot water heater or collected rainwater.
- Stocking thirty days of food can be done in relatively little space by purchasing five gallon buckets of dry beans and rice and supplementing them with canned tunas, powdered milk, eggs and cheese and dehydrated fruits and vegetables. With careful planning, a family of four can store a month of food in a small closet or in bins under a bed.
- Outfitting each family member with fully stocked bug out bags and having a small “get home bag” to be carried daily by each family member. Fully stocked bugout bags, complete with all the items needed for survival in an emergency can be purchased ready to use, or assembled from household supplies. In addition, make sure that all family members carry a small “get home” bag or pack in their cars, purses, backpacks or briefcase, with basic necessities such as a bottle of water, a few energy bars, a small flashlight and a small knife.
By having cash, fuel and basic food and water storage on hand, you will be able to keep your family safe without venturing into dangerous situations, such as the unruly crowds that are likely to form near grocery stores, banks and gas stations after a natural calamity or disaster. In addition, you will have supplies that can quickly and easily be loaded into the car before heading to your backup location to improve your chances of survival.
In the next segment, we will take an in-depth look at food security during a natural calamity or disaster event, including specific information to ensure that both nutritional and caloric needs are met. In addition, we will look at specific storage issues for these foods and how you can safely and easily manage long-term storage for this food.