Survival Scenarios: the city apartment dweller

As I’ve opined in past posts, rural living lends itself to prepping and survival more so than urban or suburban living, especially when the SHTF. But not everyone can move to a less populated area. What happens if you are a city dwelling prepper, and some disaster strikes? Let’s consider some scenarios.

Breakdown of law and order

You might recall that when hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, police presence in the city was almost non-existent. The city was mostly evacuated, and so many officers fled with their families. There were too few officers left to cover the whole city. Armed gangs were free to roam the street.

In another example, the LA riots of 1992 saw such a sudden increase in street violence, that the police dared not intervene. They were greatly outnumbered. They stood by and watched, unable to make arrests.

It could happen again, though I don’t know that the precipitating event would be. And if you are a city dweller, you’re in more difficult situation. Population density tends to work against prepping. There are too many persons in one small area for everyone to live off the land. And when violence erupts, there will be many perpetrators in close proximity.

Bugging out early is generally a good option. But if you don’t beat the crowds, you could be stuck on a highway, more vulnerable that you were in your apartment. So make the decision ASAP. It’s a very early bug out or hunker down for the duration.

For a breakdown of law and order, you’ll need some type of home defense. I suggest a pistol caliber carbine, and well-reinforced doors and windows.

Then make sure you keep a low profile. Don’t let anyone know if you have resources they lack, such as food, water, electricity, light, and so on.

Food Crisis

If you live in a rural area, and the commercial food production and distribution system collapses, you have options. You can hunt, fish, forage, or grow your own food. But in the city, you are screwed. You need a good supply of stored food, and you probably don’t have that much apartment space to devote to it.

So first of all, store foods that have high nutritional density — the most protein, fat, and carbohydrates in the least space. Store some multivitamin supplements. And make sure your freezer space is well-utilized, mainly for protein. But when that all runs out, what can you do? Bartering will be very dangerous. And it will be rather late to bug out. Not a good situation.

Water Shortage

A water shortage can occur in only two possible ways, either you don’t have enough water, or the water you have is not safe to drink.

If you don’t have water, in the city, then you have to scavenge. In theory, you could buy water, or get it from government giveaways. But in reality, with so many persons in such a small area (as is true for any city), you won’t have either option. So you are scavenging water from reservoirs, lakes, and any large deposits of rainwater. And that water will not be safe to drink. Which brings us to the second situation.

When you have water, but it is not drinkable, you need water purification equipment. Let me make a long story short. The best water purification equipment on the market right now is LifeStraw Community. It removes parasites, bacteria, and viruses — most other equipment doesn’t remove viruses. And it can purify 70,000 liters of water, 25 liters at a time. High volume, high efficiency, water purification. It’s pricy, but worth it.

Economic Meltdown

One of the more likely SHTF scenarios is an economic collapse, or near-collapse. If you don’t have money in the city, you are in deep shit. Maybe you can squat in your apartment and somehow not pay rent. But you can’t buy food. You can’t pay the electric, cable, or phone bills. It takes more money to live in the city, than in the countryside.

Sure, you can look for work. But how many other persons in the same city are also looking? Cities have a lot more competition for any and all types of resources once the usual system collapses.

It’s good to have some cash set aside, small bills, for use in emergency. But that runs out quickly. Maybe you can barter for what you need. Or scavenge. You better be prepared to hunker down with as many supplies as you can store in advance. Otherwise, bug out.

Dirty Bomb

God forbid that there would ever be a dirty bomb explosion on U.S. soil. But you know as well as I do that terrorists are going to target cities, not rural areas. So if you live in a city, where a dirty bomb is exploded, you don’t have many options.

First, the very early bug out is best. But with modern media, everyone finds out immediately the news. So this is a difficult proposition. Maybe if you find out first, and live near a route of easy egress, you can leave. If not, your only other option is to hunker down.

See my post: Nuclear Fallout: Which Room Is Safest?. Basements are generally best, after that, any room with lots of other rooms between it and any exterior wall or ceiling.

The other thing you will want is this Inexpensive Radiation Detection: RADTriage Card — so that you can know what the radiation exposure level is.


Cities are the worst places to live when the SHTF. If you have no other option, then prepare well and have a good bug out plan.

– Thoreau

2 Responses to Survival Scenarios: the city apartment dweller

  1. Well, that didn’t help at all!

  2. Good article. Linking to this on FutureDanger