How Preppers Can Survive in The City

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How Preppers Can Survive in the City

Most usCrow articles encourage preppers to bug out if they’re in the city, but what if you can’t? This article will give you plenty of tips on how you can survive in the city. As with all our articles we suggest you evaluate your situation. Reality is – most people will be unable to leave the city. Many preppers have to stay in the city, and rely on it for their livelihood. Others might have family members with physical disabilities inhibiting their ability to bug out.

Regardless of your individual situation you should be fully aware of the risks associated with bugging in so that you may be adequately informed. No matter the disaster your city faces – the result will be the same for one simple fact; American cities are incapable of sustaining themselves. Cities across the nation will succumb to a systematic breakdown…

Disaster Scenario, the Power Grid is disabled

Disaster scenario. The date is 9/11/2014, the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 World Trade Center Attack. There have been reports alleging ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) had plans on attacking 10 major American cities. The U.S. Government ignored these reports, much like they did in 2001.

3:52pm Mountain Time, vans in ten major cities are strategically parked in various substations.   Each van contains barrels filled with; ammonium nitrate, nitromethane, diesel fuel, blasting gel, and etc. At 3:53pm Mountain Time the vans are detonated. Across the nation ten major cities instantly have their power grids completely disabled. Does this sound impossible? Think again…

“Destroy nine interconnection substations and a transformer manufacturer and the entire United States grid would be down for at least 18 months, probably longer.” – Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

If this happens, shit will hit the fan. Communication will be shut down; cell phones, internet, television, and radio will be inoperable. Water pumps will no longer work, meaning all the faucets will quickly be tapped out, and sewage will back up. Your home will lose its heating. ATMs, debit and credit transactions will be impossible. Hell, even gas stations will shut down. Now, what happens next?

Society Collapses in The Face of Disaster

Let’s be realistic here. Whether it’s a soccer game or a nuclear bomb, humanity will jump at any excuse to act like Neanderthals. So what do you think is going to happen when Americans have an actual reason to flip out?

Mob psychology dictates the minute we get together in a disaster event we develop what’s referred to as ‘herd behavior’ – as seen in; the Ferguson riots, LA Riots, Tulsa Race Riot, and every hockey game in Canada. At its core, the driving factor for herd behavior is mass panic, mass evacuation, and the absence of readily available; food, water, and infrastructure.

‘The cause of herd behavior may have its roots in the man’s social conditioning to mimic the behavior of the herd. By nature, man finds it easy to conform rather than being labeled as a dissenter. Man is mentally conditioned to fall in line with the general opinion of the group which also saves them the pain of any rejection and doubt.’ – Innovate US

Herd Behavior in Disasters

Every single disaster in American History coincided with herd behavior. Food stopped getting delivered to grocery stores, water stopped running, power went out, and people instantly panicked. When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, Louisiana – the grocery store shelves were cleared in minutes.

Looting and crime ran ramped. Not only that, peoples reliance on government assistance and their inability to leave the city resulted in over fourteen-thousand people being ‘herded’ into the New Orleans Superdome which resulted in; mass assault, murder, dehydration, malnutrition, and over 42 reported rapes. When the tiny veil of psychological order disintegrates – humans are nothing more than animals. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be a prepper than an idiot in a Superdome.

Herd mentality would converge the moment the mass exoduses of residents leave their homes in search of food and water. At this time, people will start to loot privately owned businesses and homes in search of basic staples. Some will attempt to leave city limits which will cause a complete gridlock on all the major highways leading out of the city. When those cars run out of gas you will have thousands of lost, hungry, thirsty, and desperate people who will start to panic, if they hadn’t already.

Surviving in the City

For whatever your reason, you’ve decided to ‘bug in’ or ‘shelter in place’. Let me make this perfectly clear, even if you’ve decided to bug in, this is not a permanent solution. After reading the precautions listed above, I’d hope you rethink your decision. You’ve made your decision, and you’re going to defend what’s yours. Let’s hope we can help you survive the apocalypse in the city…

Fortify Your Home

The first thing you will need to do is read the usCrow article ‘Fortify your home against attack in 5 simple steps’ – this article goes over a few low cost steps to protect your home. Looters will slowly make their way to you, after the house next to yours has been completely ransacked – yours is the obvious choice. The mentality behind looting is not steeped in bravery; looters will ransack an easy target over a difficult one.

Prepper PERSEC

Other prepper websites suggest building neighborhood based emergency plans, which should be taken with a grain of salt. This presents a risk to your PERSEC (Personal Security). Yes, they are your neighbors, but your neighbors have their own families to feed and may not be as adequately prepared as you are. All the neighborhood emergency planning committees won’t prevent the one or two procrastinators who were not nearly as motivated as you.

Great, now you have a neighbor with personal information about your survival strategy which includes; the food and water you’ve stored, your home fortifications, and defensive techniques. That’s a pretty big problem… Learn more about OPSEC and PERSEC by reading the usCrow article ‘OPSEC for Preppers and Survival Groups’,,,

Food and Water Storage

As a prepper your primary responsibility is storing food and water. We have two guides available to you written by usCrow that pertains to Water Storage and Food Storage for two years. However, if you are in a city you are most likely in a condo, or an apartment – which limits the amount of food and water you can store. Realistically speaking, you can’t expect to have two years’ worth of food and water stored and still be able to move around your home.

As previously mentioned, we strongly advise against city dwelling after SHTF as a permanent means for survival. With this in mind you should store three months of food and water. For each person in your home you will need 45 gallons of water, and 3 months’ worth of food which costs about $359.00 on Amazon.

Now let’s think about this. 45 gallons of water is about the size of a large trash can, and 3 months word of food for just one person is about the size of a medium sized dresser – and that’s just for one person. Imagine if you’ve got 3 people in your home. It’s going to take up a lot of room, so you will need to strategically hide your preps throughout your home. With this in mind the food and water should be stored and hidden in each family member’s room, in their closets, and if possible – use ply wood and 2×4’s to create a compartment to further hide your storage.

If you’re in the city and you’re lucky enough to be in a home with a yard, the most effective way to hide your food and water would be to bury it. When burying food and the water – both need to be in airtight containers. Your food and water cache should be buried in a 6 ft deep hole that is 4 ft x 4 ft wide. You should line the bottom and sides with a tarp. The hole should be covered with a 4 ft x 4 ft piece of plywood with 6 inches of sediment (dirt) thrown on top. Use sod and anything else to make the ground look undisturbed. You can use garden gnomes or other markers to ID your underground cache. Keep in mind you have to read the articles above to understand the details that come along with burying food and water.

Defend Your Home

In the City you and your family will be up against; marauders, looters, murderers, rapists, and every other nutcase that’s looking for a reason to act like an idiot – all within a 3 mile radius. Sound safe? It isn’t, but you’re here for at least three months and you need to prepare you and your family to defense yourselves. These people won’t be bringing tides of goodwill, they’ll be bringing the pain and you need to be ready…

First thing’s first, and I can’t stress this enough – if you have guns in your house, and you have children in your house – you must teach them firearms safety. Not only should everyone in your home know the fundamental safety guidelines, but those capable of shooting should be taught how to shoot. Family range time is never a bad idea.

Just like food and water, ammo/guns should be stored and hidden. Unlike the food and water, your arsenal should be spread out through your home in secure and well hidden locations. The family members inside your home who have been taught how to handle a firearm and to shoot responsibly should be aware of their locations, but not aware of the security measures they are encased in.

Storing Light Sources

With the power grid down – don’t expect any of those light switches to do anything when you flick them. You’ll need lighting. You can store hand-cranked LED lanterns, LED flashlights, olive oil (candle fuel), wicks, wax, solar powered rechargeable batteries, and etc. Hell, this is the 21st Century and solar powered electronics are plenty available. Stock what you feel best suits your family.

Avoid Detection in the City

Most preppers store lanterns, flashlights, HAM radios and all the other doodads that’ll announce to to the world that you’ve got more than them. You need to keep your presence undetectable. With the home fortifications listed above you can include detection testing in your preps. All you need to do is put up your home fortifications in the middle of the night and turn on an LED lantern in each room and close the door. Have a family member go outside and look for any light sources, allowing you to identify any areas detectable from the outside. Additionally, if you have a fireplace – do not light it unless you have absolutely no choice i.e. hypothermia – which you’ll need to prepare for a possible attack soon after…

Time to Bug Out

You had intended on bugging out in three months, but the city is a warzone and your family won’t be able to ward off another attack. Whatever reason kept you in the city is now meaningless, your family’s life is on the line and you need to leave. I sincerely hope that if you are a prepper you’re smart enough to have a 4×4 truck, that has been stocked with extra fuel, medical supplies, ammo, 30 days water (15 gallons per person), and 30 days of food. Everyone in the vehicle will need to keep their eyes open for threats, whoever rides shotgun will need to be armed with a semiautomatic rifle.

Bug Out Location

Logically speaking, if you decided to shelter in place – you most likely didn’t have anywhere to go to begin with, but your situation is looking dire and you have to leave. Where are you bugging out to? This is America! We have close to 800 million acres of forests with an abundance of natural resources. If you’re going to bug out to breadbasket land – be sure to train your family in bush crafting, fishing, hunting, camping, etc. Cover your tracks and don’t let anyone follow you to your bug out location.

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About Administrator Ryan

Administrator Ryan has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Emergency Administration and Management from the University of Kentucky, and has been the primary handler for usCrow.org since it's founding. Professional background includes over a decade's experience in survival and preparedness, graphic design, computer programming, website coding, and asset management. Personal background in mountaineering, climbing, rappelling, combat training, and big game hunting.

15 thoughts on “How Preppers Can Survive in The City

  1. i am one who will not be able to leave the city. i’m 66 and in good health but I lost my job and had to sell my house and car a few years back and now live in a small apartment. I have preps, but they are never enough. I have room for much more and am working on it monthly. I know my chances are not very good if I cant bug out but I don’t see that I have a choice. all I can do is keep prepping and hope the shtf isn’t too long term or permanent. I am well aware of my limitations and that my survival will not be long even though I have enough depending on the cause and duration. my dad and my ex who was a marine taught me proper firearm use and I can and will protect myself when the time comes. I wont go easily and plan to take out some of the crazies if I have to. I have come to terms with what may come but I plan to continue what im doing til I die.

    thanks for this article.

  2. Good article, but one thing set off the warning lights – don’t line the bottom and sides of a hole you dig with a tarp – it will hold water in the soil just like a bucket.

  3. Hey that was pretty good. What say ya’ll do a number on us rural residents, rural meaning a place that you can shoot a gun off your porch and the sheriffs don’t tell you you can’t. Biggest fear of country/mountain living is fire in the summer and snow in the winter, the rest of the time it’s mostly secure.

  4. Your article starts out great, but then falls apart. No disrespect intended. Probably you tone down the message just to not offend or frighten your readers. The problem is when you tell people that 45 days may be enough then you are totally disregarding the fact that the grid, once down, will never come back on line. And even if it does it will be far to late for those in the cities. They will be bloated corpses or skeletons by then. Another mistake city dwellers make is convincing themselves that society will stay together for a few days. Regrettably there are segments of our society within all races, socio-economic groups, and both genders that are patiently waiting until shft for no other reason than to immediately start murdering and raping. So many people in this nation no longer have a conscience of morals and values. They will kill without warning just to watch you die regardless of whether you have prepper supplices or not. You will be nothing more to them than a confirmed kill on a real life video game. People in the cities need to get out now while the getting is good. Once shft comes their way it will be too late. No-one could realisticly believe themselves to be able to escape from a city such as New York, Atlanta, or Houston, just to name a few. All of you in the cities that value your lives need to set down and evaluate what it would take to relocate to the country no matter the trauma of rearranging your lives. If staying where your kids can can play football, or your daughter can attend a private school, or you can have the better job could and will cost you your life under the most hideous of circumstances once the light switches stop working. Another point is even, within the city, if you could bury your food, store water, and other daily needs then how oh how are you going to function with the floor of your home/apartment and backyard covered in backupped runoff sewage! Fortifiying your home is another joke. Fortify all you want, put a battleship on wheels at your front door and anyone can and will defeat it with one gallon of gas and a match. Let’s keep going here, do you think living in the country after shft is going to be a picnic, think again? Ranchers would not hesitate to kill you if they caught you harvesting their livestock. They own guns, big guns, with scopes they call “critter gitters”. After shft you are just another critter. Even the people in the country with only small lots will defend their gardens and water wells with the last ounce of their strength, which will result in your death. If you want to survive why not take your food out to the country now in locations you and only you know about. Bury it vertically in pvc, capped at both ends, get yourself some livestraws and bury then in pvc also. That is what we have done. We live in a small city but even here it will be suicide to try and stay after shft. With pvc you can bury anything, medical supplies, food, any necessity you see fit to have without ever worrying about spoilage or leakage. We even put quart jars of canned food in them. You can dig a hole with a hand held hand operated auger and no-one will ever find them if you cover your tracks. Please don’t bury pvc where you expect the forest to be razed to put up an apartment complex. Once shft happens maybe, just maybe you can collect your family and hightail it past the city limits, but you won’t have but a few minutes to make that getaway. In closing, by the time your buried foods runs out you must be able to live off whatever nature has provided for you. It can be done. If anyone wishes to talk more concerning these issues you can contact us at almostadog77@gmail.com. It’s free and we will never advertise or try to sell you anything. We are here to help, that’s all. We do have successful experience in these areas and what we know could save you and your family. God bless and have a great day. thanks

    • I think you completely missed the point, brother. Ryan wrote this for those who can’t leave. A lot of people have to live in the city. Shit, when I’m stateside I’m always in the city (even though my family has other property). More specifically there are people out there with family members in wheelchairs, hooked up to oxygen machines, or those who suffer severe psychological debilitation, and so on and so forth. Simply put, some people will have no choice but to stay.

      Ryan’s article makes a good point; why leave with a disabled family member right when shit hits the fan? You’ll be an easy target. Bide your time and wait for things to settle down before you bug out or else you’ll be stuck on the road with a child in a wheelchair. See the issue? People will have to make their own choices and hopefully the choices they make will be to their strategic advantage.

      It’s not useless to fortify and defend your home. Fortification provides a deterrent to looting, while alerting you to their presence, giving you time to defend your home. Once the initial attack is warded off you use this opening to bug out with whatever you can. Even in Ferguson one guy with a Wal-Mart rifle held looters at bay for days with zero assistance, and from the pictures I’ve seen of him and his rifle (how he was holding it, stance, TD) its safe to assume he wasn’t a mercenary for hire. People always think twice about attacking someone willing to defend themselves..

      Will everyone live? Hell no. But people need to be given the best chance at survival even when the cards are stacked. By no means do we think anyone should stay in the city, but everyone has their own reality. The only part I think Ryan got a little shaky was going out to the woods, because I’ve seen my share of city folk in the woods get their asses ate up without real world experience, but hey you’d imagine survival instinct would eventually kick in at some point….right?

      • I just can’t imagine anyone surviving in town during shft. The guy in Ferguson did a sterling job but it wasn’t a grid down situation. Sooner or later he knew things would get better. That’s the point, once the grid is down all hell is going to break loose really guick. The part about the folks in wheel chairs and such is a decision every family member has to make. Personally I would not help a family member that was physically handicapped because he wrecked while dwi. Nor would we help a couple of the fatsoes we have in our family that suffer from diabetes because they refuse to control their food intake, nor the ones that can’t keep needles out of their veins. You get the point, post teotwawki is made for those that have prepared and are physically capable of making it up the hill. Problem is we sure can’t abandon our kids and infants, so extra preps and precautions have to be taken for them. But storing food out of town with a one hour plan to get there will always be better than staying in town. My opinoin and I believe it to be fact. Either way God bless you and keep surviving.

  5. 45 gallons of water for 3 months? A minimum of 1 gallon per person per day would hardly be enough, and that still equates to 90 gallons. Remember you have to conduct hygiene and cook (re-hydrate all those meals) with water too. One 55 gallon drum doesn’t take up that much space, or better yet some water bricks stacked neatly in a closet. If things go south fill up a water bladder in the tub and there’s another 60 gallons.

    • The physically required amount for 1 adult is 15 gallons per month. Not only that, but you just doubled the amount to store and hide for each person, and in most city based homes there’s not much room.

      Additionally we are talking about survival. Most prepper food and hygiene items require little to no water.

  6. A great article. One additional item that will be needed as things progress. That is to prepare one room as your Shelter in place room.

    This room must have access to water, sewage, and food. It must be able to become AIR TIGHT with aids of easily maintained materials.

    In any area where their are fires, riots, or even dead bodies the people will need to create a good air area. When the Cops, or military begin to get irritated they begin to throw smoke, and CS gas grenades. The result is a rising cloud of noxious odors and bad air.

    You will need to tape sheets of milar plastic over all Doorways, windows, and block any vents from other parts of the building. Bring up all clean water, food, and a source of flushing water. While the Sewage plant may be closed the pipes still work if you have something to pour into them to move the waste along.

    This is a sealed room now so open fire cooking is out. What food you have should be eaten cold so the QUALITY IS VERY IMPORTANT. Precooking is suggested before the seals installed.

    If you have time now would be great to pick up an Oxygen concentrator from a Med Supply house. When powered it will clean your air and make Oxygen from the bad air.

    If you work in one of those skyscraper you should also put some masking tape or what is known as 100 mile per hour tape (A/C Duct Tape) a couple pieces of wood you have cut for a special closet or store room in the building. Then when the rest start running out into the fray you go to that room. Seal the door. Use the pieces of wood to simulate a locked door and wait out the initial crazy.

    If your day bag had food and water, or a water purifier the water and food would be a cinch.

    Keep your eyes open and soon you will know where every coffeepot, Fridge, and lavatory are located. Being alone in a 20 story building alone in a riot torn city could be better than being on that train home when it all stops.

    • Actually, since a 20 story building has to have its water either pumped up or stored in a limited size tank on the roof, once the power goes, your ability to fill up water containers is limited to not at all. Also, big buildings like that have waste stacks that will fill completely in a couple of days without a working sewer system underneath them. It is one of the big problems in a metropolis that no matter what you do, you are screwed if you are in a building above 3 or 4 floors. Eventually, they are death traps. A small apartment in a low-income high rise in New York or Chicago would become unlivable long before then, though, if it hits during mid summer when the AC would be knocked out and inside temps would soar to well over 100 degrees without even water to spare for cooling off, or mid-winter when, without central heating, your apartment will reach freezing temps in a couple of days. Avoid the city like a plague, honestly. You would be better off finding a place in a tenement that has a basement level. At least below ground you might equalize the temps at something livable. For waste, you would be better off getting a bucket buddy toilet seat and some trashbags that you could fill with kitty litter or sawdust to dry out your “Number Two’s”. At least you could get rid of the bagged waste rather than have it back up into your drains and toilet, which is what will happen when the stack fills up!

  7. I’ll keep my happy ass on the homestead, but the reality is the city dwellers aren’t that stupid and will venture outward from the city. Making their way to the heartland.

    It’s our jobs to be prepared for them. You HAVE TO HAVE a bug out plan to get out of the city eventually. Leaving in the middle of a panic, not smart. Leaving after law and order has disintegrated, less smart but more manageable.

  8. Excellent article Administrator Ryan, and hi from New Zealand. At 65 and just on retirement age, my wife and I would be loath to abandon our home and pets. We are staying put as we did during our quakes of 4 years ago. Having gone without water, sewerage and power I have put in contingencies to see that we have enough of the essentials to last 3 – 4 months and very quiet Honda EU 2 to keep the fridge and freezer charged, and with assistance from our garden we will have enough to get through and sparingly help a couple of elderly neighbours who will need looking after. Having witnessed and lived through a significant SHTF situation in our city I would say to question wether leaving is going to give betterment to your situation or a worse position and no fall back position. I take your full article seriously especially the herd mentality scenario and hope it doesn’t happen here, in which case my other purchases that are hidden may be needed. I enjoy reading all your articles.Scorpa

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