Cities can be as dangerous as the wild. And if there’s a crisis, like a plague, a natural disaster, or—God forbid—another world war, major metropolises may be terrible places to live in.
They’re usually a high-priority target for occupation or attack, and in an act-of-God calamity, the high-population density will make it harder to survive as there’ll be more competition for basic commodities.
That said, you may not have any choice but to eke out a living in a city. Thus, here are some tips on surviving in an urban area after an apocalypse.
Learn Your Priorities
Not every emergency is the same. There are no “standardized” guidelines for survival. You have to make do with what you have at the onset of a catastrophe, and most times, you may not have everything set.
One often neglected and taken-for-granted resource is time. Time is valuable, even more so during a crisis. Time spent seeking food over finding shelter from the cold is time wasted. It’s your life wasted. As such, learn what your priorities are during a crisis so you can use your time effectively for your continued survival.
Keep the survival rules of three in mind:
- You can survive for three minutes without air or in icy water.
- You can survive for three hours without shelter in a harsh environment unless in icy water.
- You can survive for three days without water if sheltered from a harsh environment.
- You can survive for three weeks without food if you have water and shelter.
Most people will be caught unprepared for a survival scenario. Even a prepper who has stockpiled food, water, and whatnot may lose access to those items when things go haywire. Stockpiling may help, but the best preparation is to train one’s survival skills.
With the above rules in mind, focus your training on the following.
Learn How to Secure a Shelter
Finding a safe place to sleep and eat should be the first thing in your priority list (assuming you have no problem with breathable air). A shelter must be secure enough to shield you from the environment and keep you warm.
Urban areas are packed tight with concrete structures. However, some of them may be poor shelter against the cold. Sleeping on concrete is not only uncomfortable but will also sap your temperature.
Death’s icy touch can creep up on you, and hypothermia can shut down your body, slowly suffocating you with the creeping weight of oblivion. Thus, a room with a proper bed or insulating materials, as well as debris for building a steady fire, is better than a cold bunker.
In addition, finding shelter is just half of the problem. You also need to access it without compromising its security. Most buildings will be locked, and though you can use power tools like crowbars to force your way into one, you will make a lot of noise.
More often than not, stealth is crucial for survival. Thus, learning how to pick locks may keep you concealed from danger. Lockpicking ensures that you can still secure doors after you’ve breached them. Lockpick tools rarely damage a lock, and even lockpick guns can keep locks relatively intact.
Speaking of which, a reliable lockpick gun can bypass locks quickly in an emergency. Having one of those can get you out of direct exposure from the weather in a jiffy.
Learn How to Purify Water
Water is more important than food. It’s also harder to distinguish potable water from unclean water, compared to edible food versus spoiled food. Rotten food will smell bad, but with water, it’s not enough that you only have your sight to determine if it’s safe or not. Even then, crystal-clear water can have hazardous bacteria invisible to the eye. Thus, be prudent and always purify your water.
The simplest way to do that is by boiling. Heat sterilizes water, eliminating any harmful germ and making it safe to drink. However, boiling can take time and consume fuel, so do this if you have plenty of both or if you are in a desperate situation.
Iodine tincture solutions can be a faster and more cost-effective way to purify water. You can usually find them in drugstores and supermarkets. You only have to add between five to ten drops (depending on your water source) of iodine solution to a bottle of water. The only downside is that iodine can give your water a bitter taste.
Learn How to Plant Crops
Food is next on the list. Scavenging may be an option in the early days after an apocalypse, but stores and groceries will quickly run out of food. They are the obvious targets for looting, of course. Also, hunting may not be sufficient, because it’s improbable (but not impossible) for animals to wander into a postapocalyptic city, unless if you want to dine on rats. The best way to keep a steady supply of food is by growing them yourself.
Farming in a city is easy. All you need is an open area exposed to sunlight and some vegetable seeds. Then, after planting those seeds, you just have to water your plots regularly, which doesn’t take that much time. You can also cultivate different vegetables to keep your menu varied and stave off the dullness of eating the same food every meal.
It may take a while for your plants to yield crops, but farming is easier than hunting, and for the long term, farming is the only sustainable way to survive after the apocalypse.
Never Lose Hope
Rebuilding civilization needs to start somewhere, and what better place to do that than on the ruins of a previous culture? The medieval European kingdoms did that with the crumbling ancient Roman Empire, and the Japanese rebuilt Hiroshima and Nagasaki after both cities were leveled by nuclear bombs, with the latter supporting a rich shipbuilding industry.
If there is life, there is hope. Humankind has survived many calamities across eras; humankind will survive the apocalypse—no matter what it is.
This is not the end.