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Thoughts on Urban Survival

Discussion in 'Wilderness & Survival Skills' started by B Griffin, Apr 25, 2009.

  1. B Griffin

    B Griffin Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 22, 2007
    Well…since there is a & between the Wilderness and the Survival in the title of this forum I thought this might fit in here. I am hoping to start an in depth serious discussion on the subject of urban survival.

    How many people here actually study and survey the town they live in for potential threats and alternate routes for leaving the area in the event of a major disaster? Not just in the case of a “Red Dawn” type situation but also in those instances where disasters could occur at a local chemical plant or nuclear power plant.

    Like most cities the city I live in has some really good aspects to it. There is history, culture, and art to be enjoyed up in the art district. There are three museums, old houses that have been converted to galleries, restaurants, and coffee houses.







    We have a great park complete with a beautiful Carousel with locally made hand carved horses, a great fountain and lighted walkways with cameras.




    ***NOTE*** this is another one of those threads that I am building over time, there will be more pictures of subject matter as it goes along.
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2009
  2. B Griffin

    B Griffin Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 22, 2007
    We have River Boats and miles of walkway along the river, and the worlds second longest pedestrian bridge that spans the Tennessee river.




    However as with all cities the city I live in is loaded with potential disasters, and bad situations. For instance just out of sight of the cameras in the park the are homeless or squatter’s camps.



    Just up the River a mile or so from downtown is the Chickamauga Hydro-Electric Power Plant. The huge cracks in it and the soundness of it have been a topic of discussion here for years now…they are finally trying to fix it and put some things in place to act as a “slow-down” measure should the dam actually fail




    As with all large cities there are several large fuel depots here.


    JV3 likes this.
  3. B Griffin

    B Griffin Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 22, 2007
    There are large factories that work with chemicals. This is our local Dupont complex, and it is acres huge. With Dupont having contracts to produce explosives for militaries around the world one really never knows what might be going on there. They have very tight security and the employees are often tight lipped or evasive if questioned about what is made there.




    and just outside of town in three directions are these three nuclear power plants; Watts Bar, Sequoyah, and Browns Ferry





    Controlled here at the Power Control Center in town, underground roughly in the center left of this picture.


    So, I have devoted a good deal of time mapping primary and alternate routes to leave different areas in a vehicle, on foot, or by boat if needs be. I keep certain things handy to help deal with possible situations with an emphasis on dealing with kids in the process; light, fire starting, multi-tools and cutting tools, emergency food rations, first aide supplies, emergency blankets, cordage, potassium iodide, etc... And I am nearly constantly making updates to my information due to constant road construction. Do any of the rest of you have similar situations or similar thoughts?
    JV3 likes this.
  4. gajinoz


    Sep 2, 2003
    I'm sure you live in a nice place but I'm VERY glad I don't live there. I hate cities.

    As for emergency plans, yes, we have one. Here in sunny Oz, especially out in the bush where I live, bushfires are an ever present threat. You may have heard of the recent bushfires in Victoria that wiped out whole towns and killed hundreds of people.

    Well, we have to have a plan in case one comes this way. Basically, the choices are, do we stay and fight, or pack what we can and bugger off? This is more complicated by having animals. What do you do with them?

    Plans are essential.
  5. B Griffin

    B Griffin Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 22, 2007
    I heard...I even saw some pictures taken by a friend who lives in Penrith. That was a terrible thing. I never knew fire could travel so fast as to wipe out an entire town and all of it's occupants...very tragic.
  6. JK Knives

    JK Knives Moderator Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Mar 6, 2001
    I`ve lived in the same town for 53 years, so I am very familiar with it. It`s closest power plant is 30 miles away, but there is an oil tank site about 3 miles away. When I was about 10, there was a partial train derailment on the edge of town, where some tanker cars spilled something, don`t remember what, but part of the town had to be evacuated for a brief period of time.
  7. B Griffin

    B Griffin Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 22, 2007
    That is one thing I am blessed with....I live miles from the nearest railroad spur that hauls anything other than cement compounds...all the bad stuff is on the other side of town. Over there there is a large depot that I think even stores chlorine.
  8. ROCK6


    Feb 8, 2004
    Some would call it paranoid, I call it prudent planning. I've done a lot of moving around in the military and spent a fair amount of time in different countries. It's a force of habit for me to map my surrounding area, identify alternate routes home and to work, identify choke points or restrictive areas (bridges, etc) as well as knowing the peak traffic times. Knowing the potential threats is essential as well. When we lived in GA, there was as severe chemical spill just over in SC which paralyzed that area; we too had a nuclear power plant nearby. There are always "bad parts" to every large town and cities. In east-side of Washington where I spent a lot of time, we always had the threat of wild-fires and knowing your area will help you avoid getting trapped. Here in central Texas, we are always in a fire-ban; dry and windy conditions are always a potential threat. During the "wet season", certain areas can become instant death traps due to flooding...down-town areas can be the worst; know the flood plains in your areas! We have lost Soldiers in Bradley fighting vehicles AND Abrams Tanks when they were crossing a river with flood conditions...these massive vehicles were completely rolled over:eek: When I was in Kansas/Missouri, there was always the threat of flooding in several areas. Another challenge in areas where they get significant snow fall is which roads are cleared...that will cut off any alternative routes as some smaller roads don't get cleared quickly and you may find yourself in a worse situation.

    Another note on traffic (which I truly hate!); we have a medium sized town but the road structure doesn't really support it...basically a single highway that most use. I see a car wreck either on the way to work in the morning or on the way home in the evening...I often work a little later to avoid the mad dash home. It's a large military town and as large units return home, the driving threat goes up. I often take alternate routes that take a few minutes longer to avoid the main highway. Another key is to always keep you gas tank half full...if the gas stations are crowded, most likely tempers will be up and the threat of confrontation is significant...avoid that by always having more than enough fuel to get home or your destination without having to fuel up (carry a little spare container if you can as well).

    Another good reason to know the back roads and other alternative routes is avoiding the mass-exodus during hurricane threats. I've been through a few and if plan to vacate the area, be ready to go quickly and know the back roads!

    Crime areas are something that always worries me. My wife had a friend that used a big map of the town and plotted any significant crime activity (newspaper and police scanner)...it was her hobby, but it was pretty scary to see how much criminal activity was in the area (and where it was concentrated). Knowing your neighbors and setting up even an informal watch is something worth considering.

    Lastly, you mention carrying some essentials in your vehicle. I've had my truck broken into once...fortunately I didn't have a fully loaded bag, but I still lost some high-dollar items:mad: Regardless, a simple gym bag with inexpensive essentials (based on your area and seasons)...trash bags, water, blanket, signal kit, etc. will make life easier during a bag situation. If I travel longer distances, I'll pack more.

    If you do travel a lot, make sure you at least pick up maps of the cities or places you visit...I always do a simple "map recon" before arriving or venturing out; in foreign countries, this is truly essential for safety and survival. Also, don’t make yourself a target; keep a low profile and try to blend in a little without drawing attention to yourself.

    I’m heading back over to another combat zone, but the same methods apply. Pay attention to your surrounding areas, observe and identify possible threats or danger areas; know multiple routes including their advantages and disadvantages.

    Good topic. Having situational awareness and being observant of your surrounding area is as important in the urban area as it is in the more remote outdoors.

  9. Edgyone


    Sep 2, 2008
    Thanks for opening the thread.

    I'm a city dweller in a relatively 'safe' area with a low crime rate but all of my house doors and windows are lockable and an alarm is fitted. I am not near any main utility facilities / chemical plants that may go boom.

    For egress I live near a main freeway/highway. The destination depends on why I'm running :foot::D. I need to put some more thought into the alternatives. Public transport is not great. The road infrastructure seems my best bet outbound but inbound is a problem (as it is in most medium-large cities :grumpy:).

    I generally try to keep the car gas/fuel tank half full or more, and keep spare amounts in jerry cans at home. I also keep minimum 1-2 litres of drinking water in the car (in addition to stored water at home).

    I have the contents of a 'bug out bag' grouped together at home but I don't routinely have them in the car unless going away for an extended time. Perhaps that is another area where I am a bit lax. The main items for the BOB are for water storage/filtering/purification, GPS, fire-starting and cooking gear, torch and headlight as well as some basic warm/dry gear, some prepackaged dried food, cord, folding saw and a Fallkniven F1 and Leatherman Charge. [Side note: In my situation in Australia I can't routinely carry a firearm. Even a knife can be an issue if you don't have a 'good' reason for it ('good' by the lawyers definition, not just mine :( - but I always seem to find a reason :D).]

    I look forward to seeing how this thread progresses and picking up a few tips! :cool:
  10. foxyrick

    foxyrick British Pork

    Dec 26, 2006
    That's something I've been aware of, and planned to an extent, since my very early teens, maybe even younger. Growing up during cold war times with survivalist mindset did that to me. I've no idea where I got those ideas from (other than TV perhaps) - my parents certainly aren't that way inclined in the slightest.

    I've also in my varied career had to plan routes for security reasons in some jobs; varying the routes continually and randomly.

    Knowing likely targets and ways to avoid the areas is almost automatic now; although a full set of survey maps of the whole UK helps! Even Google Earth helps to get familiar with a place quickly.

    It actually came in seriously useful once. When the IRA bombed the Arndale Centre in Manchester in '96, I was working in the city centre at the time. We were about the last to be evacuated from the building due to the bomb warning - there had been many false warnings in the run-up and people seemed to be getting a bit lax.

    Anyway, I was about 100 yards around the corner from the bomb when it exploded. I remember my first thoughts being 'that's a big one!' as the buildings shook and bits started falling off. Our office was completely obliterated being very close to the bomb placement.

    My preparation helped in the following ways:

    1. I had always deliberately parked outside the city and walked in. We had free parking at our place but I knew if anything happened in the city, I would be stuck there. So I parked on the outskirts on a quiet street that was sort of between three major routes into/out of and around the city.

    2. I knew the city centre itself well enough to be able to walk out of the centre quite easily, with some colleagues, despite there being literally thousands of people shoulder to shoulder blocking the centre and all the cordons put in place. It took about 30 minutes using the back streets and little-known walkways to get back to the car, compared to about 15 normally.

    3. Knowing the major road layouts around the city I then avoided most of the traffic jams and got my mates home, followed by myself, in quite good time.
  11. Foilist


    Dec 20, 2004
    I am fortunate enough to live in the middle of nowhere, about a 50 minute drive to the nearest large city, and about a 70 minute drive :)barf:) to the city where I work. Therefore, urban bugout is a concern of mine, since I'd be likely to be caught in a long gauntlet of traffic gridlock and other problems to get back home, if there was an emergency while I was at work. I would even consider abandoning my car under some circumstances.
  12. fujita yuji

    fujita yuji

    Jul 12, 2008
    This is something I have to take seriously, yet avoided to think about.
    The commuter train I take everyday runs far below 100 feet of the sea level, within a mile from seashore.
    And it runs into the very centre of Tokyo.
    In case of an earthquake, I will be in a very serious trouble.
  13. dawsonbob


    Feb 18, 2009
    This is a subject that I’ve given some thought to as well. While I don’t obsess on it, I have given more than a little thought to “what if” scenarios. I live in a fairly large city (about 3 million people) where getting out of town in the event of an emergency would be exceedingly difficult. So what to do in the event of an emergency: do I bug in, or bug out? I would have to assess the situation as it arises, but I’m prepared either way.

    One of the big worries here is water. All of our water is pumped in from Northern California or the Colorado river. We have no native water sources in San Diego itself, so water would be the deciding factor for me: if the water is still flowing, I’d be likely to stay here for awhile; if it’s not, then I would make my way out of town.

    The most likely event, in my opinion, would be a shutdown of the electrical grid. No electricity means no water, as it all has to be pumped in from other locations. Were that to happen, it would be time to walk to the mountains. I would probably follow what we jokingly call the San Diego river (actually a creek for most of its length). Why walk? Because if the electricity stops, nobody will be driving anywhere. Not only would every gas station be shut down, but the roads and freeways would be hopelessly clogged with other people trying to escape. Nope; no cars. Foot travel is all that would be available.

    Yes, I’ve given it some thought, and I like to think I’m prepared for whatever may happen. I just hope it never does.
  14. shotgunner11


    Dec 17, 2005
    I live a few miles from the 4th largest city in the US.

    My urban survival plan consists of looking through real estate booklets that cater to folks relocating to rural areas and trying to convince my wife that she would love living on a farm.

    Oh, and I have a big prybar.
  15. Pyre


    Jan 6, 2009
    Well I live along the coast of florida so it's essential that everyone in the area have their own hurricane plan. Couple of things we do in the house when trouble brews in the atlantic is stockpile firewood or charcoal for the bbq pit. Power definitely will be cut off and gas lines may rupture so you won't be able to use your oven or microwave to cook anything. Fill all bathtubs with water, not for drinking, but to fill up the toilet tank when you need to flush. Often, water mains break and water stops flowing so that way you can still use your toilet. Of course, always have a good stockpile of supplies; canned goods, non perishables, drinking water, medication, gasoline if you have a generator...

    If you plan to ride out the storm, head to the smallest inner-most room of your house away from any windows. A bathroom is the best place.

    One thing a lot of people overlook if they haven't been through a major storm before is to get up on your roof, seal up any vents or openings with duck tape and remove any of those spinning ventilation ball things. Winds will kick up, rip those things right off, leaving you with a gaping hole in your roof. Water flows in, saturates the ceiling and it eventually collapses.

    Prepare for the worst and pray it never comes.
  16. Ultraman


    Oct 28, 2005
    I have to add that I'm surprised at how few people are in those city shots. That may be a good thing, living in a low density urban area.
  17. ROCK6


    Feb 8, 2004
    That's actually a very good idea...something I may use down the road. I've often thought about this, but considered bringing a mountain bike to work in the back of my truck in case I couldn't 4x4 out of the area. Another option would be what you just suggested, leave you vehicle (maybe get a reliable but beater-looking one that would be less prone to theft?) out of town a little ways in a secure parking area and ride your bike into work? I know it may not be for everybody, but that's a very good option and a decent mountain bike could maneuver some pretty tight areas and get you out quickly (still giving you the option to hoof it on foot if needed)...thanks for the gray-matter stimulation. :thumbup::D

  18. B Griffin

    B Griffin Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 22, 2007
    I'm glad, I don't feel so all alone in my thoughts now.

    Thanks all of you for participating in this discussion. I have much enjoyed reading other's thoughts on their situations I hope more chime in on this.

    You and I have some similar thoughts also. I grew up during the cold war, my mom worked at a grocery store and used to keep us well stocked with storable foods...which were much more limited in variety and flavor than they are now. Lots of powdered milk, canned veggies, and dried meat.

    Though I can never leave my vehicle and walk to work as my vehicle is almost always involved in my work, when we go into town I often lock my truck up in a parking lot on the other side of the river and walk across the pedestrian bridge to the art district and down town restaurants just in case for whatever reason the traffic does become grid locked.

    That would definitely have me thinking...it might even just drive me nuts.

    I lived in m Miami, Homestead, and Key Largo for a while....I know what you mean about evac
  19. B Griffin

    B Griffin Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 22, 2007
    I'll get some crowded pics for you one day when I'm alone...I pick and choose the days I take my family down town.
  20. ron_m80


    Mar 1, 2009
    I don't think anyone here is unfamiliar with the civil unrest California has the potential to create in times of disaster. Far too many people completely self absorbed with no sence of community or respect for others.

    My initial escape is by foot marathon distance home through the looting trying very hard not to be targeted because i can walk with purpose and dirrection, friday traffic is bad enough, and i have seen what a simple bomb threat can do to my traffic around work. an earthquake? forget it.

    I have found an ample (natural) water source, its a hell of a hump from my house (uphill, four miles, and a flat three or four miles to get there) but thats not too bad concidering what it would take to get it from plastic. not to mention what carrying them (large water bottles) in public around day 4 or 5 post disaster would do for you. Glancing back at the responce during Katrina, I doubt a California relief would be more organized or safer. And there would be no armed security in California, like blackwater did for

    Since my son lives with his mother, and has for years. My first and formost goal is to get him out of riot town (she lives in Korea town, home of the Rodney King riots we all saw on national TV)

    I also started growing some of my own food, a few months ago.

    bla bla bla... urban suvival yes i have a plan, but buddy, those a pretty rural pic's (by comparison) you posted. I would be envious in your shoes at disaster time. Lets not forget the fact that most of you live in states where it is natural and normal to arm yourselves properly. here in california, its a bit harder to build a solid defence.

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