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Introduction to Urban Survival

Its popular for preppers to plan a bug out location away from home and so concentrate a lot on bushcraft and hunting techniques. This preparation and knowledge is indeed valuable and I would suggest everyone has a good foundation in such, though, many overlook the urban component of survival. There are many reasons you might not make a bug out plan and opt to bunker down, or just as likely unable to, you or a loved one may be physically unable to relocate, or in relocating put you out of reach of modern day resources there are no natural alternatives for, that would not be accessible from a rural location.

It’s called a concrete jungle for a reason… Although cities and towns do have green areas you will be mostly treated by shades of concrete grey or red brick, its easy to look at these places and see no potential after mobs and looters have made away with every item of worth… You’d be very very wrong.

The following are highlights I have adapted from actual lesson plans usually delivered in a FIBUA setting. I have tried to make this as user friendly as possible removing jargon and simplifying everything where I can. A more detailed guide will be written at a later date.

In this guide I will try to help you plan for surviving in densely (or once so) populated areas. To identify objective structures/installations and ultimately squeeze the most out of your surroundings… Not unlike bushcraft.

First off, a preppers best friend… A list..

  • Bolt cutters
  • Crow bar
  • Hack saw
  • General tool kit (screw drivers hammers spanners etc)
  • Files (assorted metal)
  • And your survival basics including knives etc

Any other kit mentioned here should also go on your list but more on that when we get there…

First things first, know your town/city! You should be familiar with your immediate area already, now for the rest. Pick up a map of your town/city and circle your location at a 1 mile radius, highlight all places of note; shopping centres, warehouses, industrial estates, local shops and business, nurseries and doctors surgeries/chemists. Google maps will help show you what’s in the area too after a simple search. You will at some point want to recce the area/buildings but only the ones already open to the public, lets not break any trespass laws or go dressed as a ninja! Take a walk around the industrial estate, visit the shopping centres or local shops. Take note if there are residential buildings close by and if there is a way into these areas without being seen by them. You may be thinking at this point that this is sounding a lot like casing a joint before a robbery… In fact that’s virtually what this is, looting is against the law and in times of emergency could result in imprisonment or death but if the law has gone and order devolved to chaos these places become a resource. Chances are most if not all the shelves in supermarkets will be picked clean, even if they are not others will be searching and if desperate defend their rights to be there over yours with violence. So focus on cash and carries, warehouses factories and the like as you will find canteens, medical supplies and vending machines galore, all likely unpicked and ignored for the most part. Get to know the rest of your town to work out how long it takes to walk to other places of interest and make note of total time for a return trip. Find alternative routes to all locations and never return the same way you set off avoiding possible ambush.

Figure out the best vantage point from your home location and set up an observation post, if you live with others then set a rota and stay diligent recording any movements by others and observing behaviours, even if everyone has disappeared a record should be kept.

Camouflage your home location, not with green netting, but by making it as unremarkable as possible… Make it look like your home has been sacked already, making it unappealing to looters, rubbish up the garden and surrounding area, this makes placing traps easier to conceal as well if desired.

If you know your neighbours have vacated in hopes to get to the countryside enter the home, pay respect by keeping damage on entry to a minimum (see further down on entry methods) empty the food stores, take bedding and anything of use (for barricades or other) open there front door and mess up the front garden aiding in keeping the street itself off looters radars by looking ransacked! If any vehicles have been left check for keys in their respective homes, if you find a car more suitable to your own; plan to use that in an emergency, all other vehicles should be drained of petrol by piercing the tank and capturing the fuel. Remove the car batteries and store at your home location, take jump leads for cabling and spare wheels to use in more barricades. Push whatever vehicles are left that are no use to strategic points to force anyone coming into the area to take a path more visible to you observation.

The usual items will still be of huge use, air rifles in particular, 10 to 50 yards range and capable of taking down small game silently will help supplement your food stores and give you a source of protein as well as improving morale having fresh meats. Pigeon and squirrel will likely be your main staple with this method in urban environments. Crossbows have their place though requires more experience to use effectively and have the same range capabilities as air rifles though posses up to 30 times as much power as untuned legal limit rifles. With home defence issues a ranged weapon is only good for, well, at range, you can of course use it to intimidate but you realistically will get off one shot and not likely maim enough to incapacitate. A crossbow will do more damage but again its a one shot device, a blunt instrument like a bat or similar may be preferable at close quarters. A better option is to avoid conflict, lay traps using survival techniques usually reserved for trapping game but obviously hazardous to humans, there’s also a lot more you can do in this area for better effect. Your alarm call will be the sound of someone reacting to a spike through their leg but you or your housemate/partner would have seen the person coming long before and so able to raise the alarm to others in the house to grab their bug out bags and make ready escaping through the back, coming back when the coast is clear. Obviously your main food stores will be hidden in caches not only in the home but within your 1 mile radius.

Power will be an issue, luckily not a big one in the city if you know where to look. Building sites, scrap yards, housing developments in construction and some businesses will have small and large generators, you want the small ones but don’t ignore the bigger versions, drain them and take there batteries if any. Take everything of use, check porta cabins for medical supplies (first aid kits) cache what you can’t take in one go off site.

Gaining access to buildings can be as easy as opening a door or climbing through a window but extreme caution must be taken. Come across someone bunkering down accidentally and you may not get out alive. Recon is a must.
Know your target, wether it be residential or commercial, observe it once a day for two days for as long as you can spare (this will depend on your own desperation for supplies) if its inhabited or there is movement in the area give it a wide berth and don’t return, if it looks good then its time for the next step. I suggest you google search a company called ‘multi pick service’ and order a keyring version of their ‘southord’ pick set. It’s an easy to use basic kit and there’s plenty of guides online that show you how to use them. Don’t spend any longer than 5 mins attempting to pick the lock if you can’t gain access abandon your plans. There are other ways to force entry using a range of tools or methods but all make noise and so should only be used in times of absolute need. Picking a lock is easier than you might imagine, for basic tumbler (such as Yale) locks employ the raking method.

Plant crops in land next to your property if other buildings are vacated, remember, your home is to appear barren, check local allotments and nurseries for fresh fruit and veg, access sheds and buildings and take all chemicals you can get your hands on that are flammable.

Everything written so far is an introduction, a pretty broad one I grant you put an introduction none the less.
There is a lot more to cover, this is a taste of things to come and an in depth guide will follow as an instructional tool to help you defend scavenge and survive an urban environment under the radar, we will cover urban defences, water and food resources, safe travel, escape plans and the articles discussed above in more depth.

24 comments to Introduction to Urban Survival

  • prepper1

    Dont forget fire.
    Fires are pretty easy to start with a lighter or a box of matches etc…
    It doesnt have to be a petrol bomb to do damage.
    Buckets of water and sand which doesnt need to be clean water either it can be muddy puddle water etc..
    In place ready to deal with breakouts.
    Dont forget human nature either, the ” I havent got it, you have and if your not going to share it I’ll burn your house down with you in it”
    Dont believe it?
    check out the news daily for reports of people stabbing each other to death for the fun of it etc then tell me it cant happen.

  • prepper1

    How often for example have you met people that do completely nasty random things, just because they want too?
    DONT forget to factor the nasty side into your plans.
    Imagine you were one of them after your gear and what youd do to get it, no holds barred.

  • prepper1

    pvc windows, doors etc wooden as well but to a lesser extent burn well pouring thick black choking smoke, right into your house….

  • Jack

    We’ll be covering much of this in the coming days, the first topic in fact will be on prepping for urban survival and early days post SHTF, preps when laws and common sense have no bearing on your own or others actions.

  • bigpaul

    if you want to know about surviving in an urban environment just read SHTFschool, that guy dosent just talk about, run classes on it, he lived it FOR REAL and survived, read his webpage and THEN tell me if you think you can survive in a city!!

  • Jack

    I’m aware of Selco’s webpage and his horrifying experiences that he detailed.
    But BigPaul, Yugoslav wars can only be helpful in surviving a war zone (decades ago) What were looking at is UK specific and relevant methods and attempting to cover as many of the basis as possible (zombie apocolypse being the exception…)
    I don’t claim to have survived a war zone as a non combatant/civilian, but feel, considering you seem to be pointing out I’m under qualified to comment on any of this subject matter that I should say if your uninterested in the techniques, methods etc and feel the need to flame or otherwise posts or literature I create as this is by no means the first to instead focus on your lone wolf strategies in surviving in the boonies and leave alone the comments section that you plainly have no desire to be involved with.
    Selco’s website does show much of the darkness that people can endure in these times and is useful as a tool to see examples of such, it would have been much less troll’ish of yourself to simply give his link and say “here chaps look at what this poor sod went through and he’s took the time to share how he survived… Could be useful and related” that would’ve been great as an extra bit of reading, but typically you show yet more examples of your own narcissism.
    Iv been a member of this sites forum for under a week and already tire of notification emails telling me I have comments on my posts as I know there likely to be yours and offer no constructive critism or debate but instead ‘your wrong I’m right no one should bother’ comments.
    I apologise to everyone else reading these comments. This is the last time I bother arguing with you Paul but continue to comment as you must.

  • bigpaul

    my comments were not aimed at you personally Jack but at urban dwellers in general.

    • rush2112

      I am an urban dweller. I would love to have a place in a rural area with nobody around, but at this time we are stuck where we are. Maybe the odds are stacked against us, but what are we to do? throw our hands up in surrender or carry on and do the best we can? This is not a knock on anyone.

      I liked Jack’s post. I’ve been prepping a long time, so have considered many of the points he makes here. Map the local area for important stuff, make your place look like its already been sacked, hit food warehouses, cacheing food stores in multiple locations away from where you sleep. Never thought of the lock picks, I’m more blunt force and leverage, but lock picking would be quieter and easier to conceal once entry is gained. In my humble opinion this is good advice and likely to help people. Its a very good introduction and I look forward to reading more.

      Jack – one question I’ve been thinking on if you don’t mind. Regarding food warehouses – agree with the need for recon, but you state if movement is observed leave and don’t return. Those observed may just be taking what they can carry also. If the warehouse is full of food, not likely a confrontation would take place between scavengers. If the observed parties look like they are staying – ie just walking around or sitting, looking like they are on guard – then I would leave. I think maybe in the early stages after the event (within a week or so) it may be possible to get supplies before some type of armed organization takes it over. I am interested in your thoughts.

  • Hi, I think that you, Jack, have covered a lot of good points re ‘casing’ the areas around your domain. An awful lot of useful info that truly makes me think I am not as prepared as some of you. I have came on here to be better prepared. My only worry is, that I will probably be at work and God only knows how I will get from A to B. My partner drives and works quite near me, though he works mon to fri, I work shifts, so I might be working when he’s at home. My son doesnt live with us and is quite a distance from my place of work and he is in poor health so I would like to get him where we are. Problem is, I dont drive. I was always fit up till a few years ago when I developed recurring sciatica so I’m not as great on long walks as I used to be. These are my main concerns as I would hate to have been prepping all this time and 1. I cant get home. 2. I cant get to my son. 3. I’m stuck somewhere and all my prepping may have been in vain. Long shot Jack, but any advice you can give me? Thank you, Nel.

    • Skean Dhude


      Part of your preps should consider this scenario. Work out how you will get from each of the places you spend time at and the issues involved.

      Currently I’m working away during the week in Croydon. I’ve evaluated the situation and unless it is a slow collapse and not a sudden one I need to be working on my own teleporter. Don’t see any other way.

      Sometime no matter what happens you are screwed.

  • Jack

    Hi Rush,
    The reason behind my writing and advising people should leave an area that has movement is because not everyone will know the difference between someone on sentry and someone cruising through/lost. After observing a target and the area for a while you should be able to weigh up the risk-reward scale, notice if people are resident in the buildings etc… but writing from the point of view that this will be a very steep learning curve for most people my aim was to advise on the side of caution… If you can find another resource unprotected the risk then outweighs any reward from your original target.
    Ill be covering some basics on how to recognise anti surveillance techniques people might employ that will be a better indicator of no go areas.

    The early days would be best yes, to gather supplies from warehouses, food storage etc while others are fighting over scraps in the supermarkets, the idea is to go as high up the chain as possible from the retailers that by the time others think to look else where than tesco’s you would have moved if not all then as much of it as possible from their suppliers to more unremarkable landmarks near your home location.

    The recce also applies to Aries you had been to the same day eg; you recce an Iceland depot its dead no movement… You enter, remove supplies, come back for more and bam… Someone’s had the same idea and in a big group or with a big gun…

    One more point (I know this reply is getting rather large and I should save it for the next article but…) brute force has its place, if entering small buildings and places with limited resources in an area noise is not an issue then its the most efficient method and I’d have a little fun with a sledge hammer myself.
    Using my example of the Iceland depot earlier, after you leave a door you smashed it is then unsecurable. If you picked the lock chances are there’s a spare key right inside you can claim or if its a padlocked door you just remove the lock, not touching the door and replace it with one you have a key to… Securing it from others as best you can.

    We’ll get into detail on all this over the coming articles.

  • big paul

    i will try not to offend anyone by my comments, but i do feel that trying to survive post shtf in an urban environment…ok..we’re talking big city here, like Londonistan & Birmingham type populations, is in a lose,lose situation, maybe you can grab some extra supplies when it all starts going down, but what happens if you get injured or killed in the melee-wont do your families much good will it? the whole point of having stores..naimly food and water is so we DONT go out when all the sheeple are panicking and put ourselves at risk. having said that, how long will your food stocks last? once the power and mains go off, no more food deliveries to the supermarkets and the shelves have all been stripped long can you remain where you are? i do not believe that cities are survivable in the long term, no city can feed its own population without food coming in from outside. also movement inside a city will be limited, behind every window, in every alley and round every corner could be a sniper or a thug waiting to ambush anyone on the streets. this is NOT aimed at anyone personally, just me thinking out loud.

  • Jack

    Hi Nel,
    As SD says working out an A to B plan for your own key areas is paramount. I can’t comment on the hows for you specifically but let us know your situation, what distances are we talking about? What are the general locations? And we can guide you to your own plan.
    As for your disability I too face a similar problem. I have recently been diagnosed with MS and often am in pain or on occasion loose mobility (just took order of my first wheelchair). Fortunately I have a good wife that is every bit my equal on my good days! You and I will rely at times on others, this is something that people with a disability must get used to the idea of. Fortunately most weeks/months I can out run/lift/balance my peers, its a double edged sword but I can still relate with you. If your on the forum feel free to message me more on these areas as they are a common concern of many and something I wish to address once I have enough info on the subject.

  • Thank you Jack for your reply. Unfortunately my son has MS too and its rather aggressive, he’s 24, sorry to hear you have it too. I am fit and generally quite strong, its just the old leg pain flares up when I walk for a while.My partner is off to the garden centre for more compost at the mo, I will discuss the distances and so on with him as I am pretty ignorant geographically and methinks I suffer from misdirectional dyslexia too!!
    I believe Paul and I have some rather good skills, I currently work in a hospital and have some knowledge of somethings medical. Paul is a lecturer in furniture restoration and excellent with woodwork. He is currently looking up homemade bows and arrows. Hopefully we can all add to our skills from here and other sources to help us all in our preparedness. I guess my first new skill should be geography.

  • bigpaul

    just found this site, it may give a few of you some pointers:

  • Timelord

    Good one Jack!

  • fred

    Wise advice above:

    How often for example have you met people that do completely nasty random things, just because they want too?
    DONT forget to factor the nasty side into your plans.

  • franc

    Also a shortish length of chain and a carabiner can make a gate looked padlocked, but is much quicker to open than mess with keys. or just knock off the old padlock and replace with a Carabiner.

  • Jack

    It’s a nasty disease, I was diagnosed under a year ago and coming to terms with it, also only a few years older then your boy… I see your on the forum now, feel free to PM whenever and whatever about.
    I like the idea with the radios and kit to go in the kids bags Paul, there’s a few things the guy in the video says he’ll be doing or using I’d be concerned with, mainly the moped, I knew a few cabbies that used mopeds to get “the knowledge” around London and it was an everyday co courante for people to try and knock him off the bike… Which reminds me of the video footage of the London riots where the same thing happened to a rider.
    There’s also a level of suspicion you must maintain Fred for all outsiders or those within any group I’d treat any outsiders as hostile and lady to give them a wide berth avoiding conflict hence the alternative routes and other methods ill go over in future articles..
    It’s good advice Franc, but the problem is people will still attempt to get through a padlock so won’t deter 100% of looters, I’d stick to padlocking high value resources and home locations colour coding locks with keys… I would employ your carabiner method though for things like road access gates or things like kennels etc but I’m quite security conscious and if I had the option of a lock and key, personally, I’d take it.

  • I must have missed you earlier Jack, so much info to take in on here. Big Paul thank you for the useful video. My pardner and I have been discussing routes and such, my only real worry is not having my son with us where we live, but we’re working hard on it at the mo. Well I’m annoying him with ‘but what ifs’ etc. I liked the idea with radios and whistles, dont think the radios will help for son as he is quite a distance from us. On the upside we are planning a dummy run keeping positive that I will be at work, partner will be near me at his work, and we then go get my son and his girlfriend, hoping she wont be at work. Thats the trouble these days, so many shifts to consider. My partner is the only one who works 9 to 5. My son doesnt work as he is too ill, his girlfriend works fulltime usually earlies/lates/midshifts and I work long days usually 12.5 hours.Will let you know how the dummy run goes later in the week. Nel

  • Dave 13

    Excellent post Jack as a city dweller with not much intention of leaving due to family and lack of a bug out location this post is most helpful an looking forward to reading follow up posts on this matter cheers Dave.

  • Jack

    Hi Dave, just seen your post on the forums! Woops…
    Thanks for the compliments, I have part 1 of the series written just waiting on approval from admin to be posted here.

    Nel, the “what ifs” are a good thing so long as they don’t go a little crazy into the realms of alien invasion by delivery of disruptive worm hole tech…
    One of the biggest bits of advice I would want to pass on through these articles is that “Every plan is flawed because every plan is planned!” The logic behind a chaotic SHTF event would be incomprehensible until well after the dust had settled if at all, how can you plan for that, you can’t! So why bother??? Should you bother??? Yes! Every plan I make, and I make many, I submit to the way of thinking of them as GUIDES only, plans are rigid and get complicated if you try to factor in all the variables that in a time of chaos you’ll forget or screw up something vital later down the line ( I would anyway). A guide give more flexibility and get adapted much more fluidly to a situation, there’s minimal steps to follow and you won’t get confused as easily if you panic.

    So don’t worry about what times people are working Nell, just plan what you will do for when you are at home – at work or out in general. Doesn’t matter about times, this is something you can react to fluidly without a specific set plan. Of course a lot of planning is needed, just in this case for example what if people don’t turn up then what? I would plan only for;
    Shelter and food.
    Look forward to hearing about your dry run Nel, let us know how it goes.

  • Undertaker

    Very interesting reading (from all parties ! ) I too live in the city, and much as I would love to move to a more remote area the job situation makes that a bit difficult ! Along with that is the problem that my son is in Leeds and my daughter is in Wales (sometimes Swansea sometimes Aberystwyth) so I am unable to make any hard and fast plans, more a keep fingers crossed and hope situation for me !
    Mind how you go

  • Simon

    A good post Jack. Looking forward to reading some more. As the majority of preppers will live in urban areas it is a topic that needs more coverage.

    A welcome change from the ill-informed “you’re all going to die” rubbish which is quite often all you ever hear or read


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