Gaining the edge in urban survival

In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, you may have been reminded of the importance of being prepared for any survival situation.

But, you might also find it difficult to imagine a large metropolitan area, such as New York and New Jersey, becoming very inhospitable landscapes for survival. During these situations, you are likely to discover that cell phones and landlines are down, power is out, the roads are impassible, and overwhelmed agencies are not available to come to your aid. Survival may depend on your preparation, skills, and resourcefulness. Most importantly, your mind will serve as either your greatest asset or your downfall.

In some situations, the difference between life and death is mere chance, but in most other situations, having considered the top 10 mental strategies, collected the top 10 essential equipment, and properly determined the top 10 survival priorities, will be what keeps you alive in the urban survival situation.  

Survival is a mental game. Therefore, consider the 10 Mental Strategies for urban survival.

10 Mental Strategies for Urban Survival:

  1. S.T.O.P. (Stop, Think, Observe, and Plan): In the middle of a major tragedy, your fight or flight instinct kicks in, but this life-saving primal response can also put you in more danger. With S.T.O.P. you are able to include logic with adrenaline to increase your effectiveness.
  2. Stay calm: Many people begin to lose control of their emotions. By staying calm, you will open your mind to all that is going on around you and see the important tasks ahead. 
  3. Adapt and overcome: Survival is all about adapting. If something does not work, abandon it. You will have little time and resources to waste, so change quickly.
  4. Accept your situation: Be real with yourself and the situation you are in. The more accurately you can see the big picture, the better you can deal with it.
  5. Positive mental attitude: Stay positive and upbeat no matter what comes your way. This will give you energy for the task at-hand.
  6. True grit: Do not give up! You must choose to live and not die. Make it a conscious decision. Those who survive often focus on a reason to live that is much larger then themselves. This may include family or an important cause.
  7. Focus on the good- not the bad: Count your blessings. This will bring to light options you might not have considered possible, while giving you a fresh perspective. Rejoice in your small successes.
  8. Stay disciplined and focused: Mistakes are costly and potentially deadly. You cannot afford to lose focus on the goal or task. 
  9. Use common sense: If you have a bad feeling about something, you are probably right. Remember, common sense is not that common. 
  10. Believe in success: Visualize your success. Believe completely that you will make it through this difficult situation and trust that it will happen. 

These 10 mental strategies are vital, but also make sure you give yourself a huge advantage by having the 10 Survival Tools on hand.

10 Survival Tools for Urban Survival:

  1. Knife/Multi-Tool: A small pocket knife is excellent. 
  2. Duct Tape: This simple, but very useful resource can fix most anything and has hundreds of uses.
  3. Water filter: A small backpacking filter will give you gallons of safe, fresh water.
  4. Fire source: Fire is a survivor’s friend. It gives us light, warmth, psychological comfort, and cooks our food.
  5. Food: To survive you need energy. Stash away plenty of high calorie foods.
  6. Emergency radio: This is your link to the outside world. It will inform you of future problems and give you hope that others are trying to get to you.
  7. Warm clothes/blankets: Exposure to the elements will kill you faster than any other factor. 
  8. Headlamp: Not a flashlight. If you need a light, it is to do a task, so keep your hands free.
  9. Map /Compass: To help you get safely from point A to point B.
  10. First Aid Kit: Injuries are very common problems and you need to have solutions.

Now that you have a mindset for survival and the Top 10 Survival Tools, organize yourself with these 10 Survival Priorities.

10 Survival Priorities for Urban Survival:

  1. Treat current injuries: Failure to deal with certain injuries can dramatically decrease your chance for survival.
  2. Find a safe location: Choose a place that will give you warmth, protection, and shelter. Your home may not be this place. If possible, avoid structures that are likely to suffer further collapse or flooding. 
  3. Create a community: Band together with a group of people and make them your family. There is safety in numbers. However, always think for yourself and apply the 10 Mental Strategies for Urban Survival. 
  4. Protect those in your community: A group of people can depend on the various strengths of the individual members and all contribute to your survival success.
  5. Shelter: Think small; this will require less resources and less time constructing. It will also be warmer and easier to defend.
  6. Warmth: Always remember the Big 3. Exercise, Eating, and Proximity to a Heat Source are the only three ways of generating body heat. It is also important to learn the many ways to reduce the rate of heat loss. 
  7. Food & Water: These are precious commodities and should be rationed.
  8. Blend in: When resources are hard to find, people will become desperate to take what you have. Don’t let them know you even exist.
  9. Stand out: Be prepared to signal and call in help when it arrives. Know your plan. Make yourself big.
  10. Long-term survival: Realize that the situation might be worse than you think, and you need to make long-term goals in order to survive. Create contingency plans.

Surviving in the urban jungle can be easy if you know how to think, how to prepare, and what to do. Knowledge is power. Take the time to practice and prepare for an urban survival situation. Remember: “Luck” favors the prepared.