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    Preparedness 101: The Ultimate Survival Checklist

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    Preparedness 101: The Ultimate Survival Checklist

    (To download a PDF version of this article, please click here.)

    Welcome to Urban Survival Site! We’ve designed this opening page as a navigation tool to allow you to quickly scan and access over 200 of our best articles covering all aspects of preparedness.

    This post is long, so save it for later by pinning it on Pinterest! Otherwise, you may want to bookmark it or save it to your favorites.

    The information below is bundled by topic, and we have articles on pretty much every topic related to emergency preparedness. Here’s a quick overview of the primary categories.


    Beginners Disaster Plan Checklist

    If you are new to prepping, you should take some time to research and think about how to approach the topic of preparedness. It’s an emotional subject, but emotional decisions often miss the mark or lead us to overreact. It’s easy to spend too much on the wrong things without taking some time to ponder, plan, and prepare.

    We’ve assembled an outstanding team of experts on the subject of emergency preparedness, and their experiences and insights are captured here across a range of subjects. Each section invites you to read more with direct links to articles, videos, and lists put together by these accomplished preppers.

    It’s easy to grab a list of all of the things you should acquire. In fact, it’s too easy. Lists can become a blur and we may find we’ve spent money on things we don’t need, or live in an area where items are unnecessary because hurricanes don’t happen in the Rocky Mountains and blizzards don’t happen in the desert.

    The Fog of Prepping

    Military historians often refer to “the fog of war.” It’s how a battlefield or military campaign is often accompanied by the unexpected and the dynamics of how things unfold always seem to change and be in a constant state of flux.

    Disasters evolve and unfold in the same way and it can be difficult to accurately anticipate every possibility. That’s why it makes sense to assess your situation and ask some fundamental questions.

    Who Are You?

    A single guy in his 30s? A single mom in her 20s? A husband and father or a senior citizen with some health issues? Your personal needs and the needs of those around you should be at the forefront of your mind while planning and prepping.

    Where Are You?

    Many natural and manmade disasters tend to occur in certain geographical areas. Coastal areas are more prone to weather extremes like hurricanes and flooding. Urban environments are more likely to see civil unrest as opposed to rural environments.

    Some disasters can happen anywhere, but take some time to think about the probability and the type of disaster that may affect the area where you live.

    Why Are You Prepping?

    It’s worth taking the time to think about your motivation for prepping. Some people who have endured disasters are keenly sensitive to another occurrence. But if you were once the victim of a flood, is that all you’re preparing for in the future?

    It’s also easy to get caught up in the fear and try to prepare for every possible scenario. That’s both expensive and unrealistic. It’s important to separate logic from emotion when preparing for anything.

    The standard advice from experienced preppers is to take a slow, methodical approach to the events that could realistically affect you and your loved ones.

    Are You Prepared for the Best?

    The prepper’s mantra is: prepare for the worst and hope for the best. But if Y2K taught us any lessons, it’s that some of us weren’t prepared for the best. It’s hard to keep a positive outlook in the midst of a pandemic, but it’s worth being a student of history to understand how and when disasters occur and how they resolve.

    It all gets back to the fog of war. It will never be easy to predict the future or the patterns of the present, but if we do our homework and keep an open mind, we can put together a common-sense plan for preparedness that won’t leave us at the mercy of events.

    Read More:

    Survival Skills

    Survival Skills Building a Fire

    Stockpiling supplies is a good idea in the short-term, but the long-term brings other challenges. Eventually, you may start to run low on supplies and be forced to go out in search of them.

    When that happens, you'll have to find and purify water, grow and prepare food, and build things from scratch using whatever materials are at hand. That's where survival skills come in.

    Knowledge is Power

    American pioneers didn't survive because they had lots of gear and supplies. They survived because they had the knowledge necessary to sustain themselves.

    How many of us possess the ability or knowledge of how to sew clothing from fabric? Grow, harvest, and preserve fruits and vegetables? Raise, feed, butcher, and preserve livestock with basic animal husbandry skills? And while most of us can figure out how to apply antiseptic and a bandage, how many of us have the ability to suture simple stitches or treat a third-degree burn?

    The Forgotten Past

    Technology has changed the world and has changed us as well. You’re reading this on a computer with an Internet connection that allows you access to the collective knowledge of humanity.

    Where is that knowledge if the grid goes down and the Internet becomes a rare luxury inaccessible to most? Maybe it’s time to remember the past and revisit those skills, crafts, and sustainable activities that ultimately created civilization.

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    Building a Library

    Building a Library at Home

    Regardless of our skill sets, no one can remember everything. And here again, our reliance on the Internet for instant knowledge and information may fail us in a time of disaster. That’s why a personal library of books on various survival skills is worth the investment.

    Read More:

    It may also be worth thinking about what other books you would want to have if no other books were available. Think of it as a family activity. Play the desert island game and ask them what books they would be willing to read over and over, then get those books.

    First Aid

    First Aid Practice

    Everyone knows how to put on a Band-Aid or take a painkiller. But what if someone gets a really deep cut or broken bone or something worse. During a crisis, going to the hospital might not be an option. This is why it's so important to learn some basic first aid skills.

    Read more:


    Medical Supplies on a Table

    Of course, it's not enough to just have first aid skills. You're also going to need plenty of medical supplies. Granted, there are natural remedies out there, but for most medical emergencies you'll need to have the right supplies and medicines on hand.

    Read More:


    Frugality Piggy Bank Coins

    Frugality involves many different things: learning to make do with less, knowing how to find great deals, making the best use of coupons, finding clever ways to lower your bills, saving and upcycling things other people would throw away, and so forth.

    If you learn these things now, you’ll fare a lot better during another Great Depression or other long-term disaster. If nothing else, you’ll save money that you can use to purchase more emergency supplies.

    Read More:

    Bugging Out

    Bugging Out To The Woods

    Location. Location. Location. A cave in the Rocky Mountains would be a good location to wait out significant civil unrest. But it would probably be a very bad location in the middle of an earthquake. Where we are has a lot to do with our ability to survive any disaster.

    In some instances, we may need to bug out. In others, we may choose to hunker down and bug in. Regardless of where we go, situations change and events continue to unfold. All we can do is assess, adjust, and do what we can to make sure any location is secure.

    And while we’re at it, it’s worth thinking about what’s involved with traveling from one location to another.

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    Disaster Scenarios

    Disaster Scenarios Tornado

    The true measure of a disaster is the impact it has on everything around us. The duration is certainly a factor, but some events that occur quickly following a disaster can have significant effects as well. Think of it as a cascade effect. How does a single event lead to a progression of failures and challenges?

    Read More:


    Healthy Herbs and Oils

    Regardless of your current physical condition, any disaster is going to impose both physical and emotional stress. Injuries will be common and diseases could be widespread as basic sanitation and food and water supplies are compromised.

    Making matters worse are the shortages of medical supplies, medicines, and medical care that often accompany disasters. Make sure you have a plan and always have a “Plan B” like natural alternatives.

    Read More:

    Survival Tips

    Survival Tips Man in Abandoned Building

    If you don't have experience with something, take the time to learn from people who do have experience. Learning survival tips from the experts could save you a lot of time and aggravation down the road.

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    Urban Survival

    Urban Survival in Abandoned City

    It doesn’t take a crisis to make the streets mean, but things get a whole lot more complicated in urban environments when disaster strikes. Here’s how to make the best of the worst in the city.

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    Gear Lists

    Gear for Camping on Table

    There’s a difference between stockpiling and hoarding. Stockpiling is the methodical and measured accumulation of items for later use over a predetermined duration. Hoarding is the indiscriminate accumulation of stuff. Preppers stockpile; everyone else fills closets with toilet paper.

    A standard approach to stockpiling is the use of lists. Lists are a good idea and a good reminder of what you need to stockpile. But that assumes the list is put together with some thought behind it.

    A lot of this gets back to those key questions. Who are you? Where are you? And why are you prepping? With that in mind, you’re in a position to start making your list. Or maybe your list of lists.

    Read More:


    Power Generation Off Grid

    Power is something we all tend to take for granted. Ever since we could walk, we've been used to the idea that you can just flip a switch and turn on the lights. Not to mention indoor heating, air conditioning, microwaves, electric ovens, devices, and more.

    While we can learn to live without things like microwaves, when it comes to lights and electric-powered survival gear, we'll need some alternative ways to generate power.

    Read More:

    Water Basics

    Water Collected in Rain Barrel

    Water comes first, and then food. The reason is simple. After 3 days without water, you die. It doesn’t matter who you are, you die. On the other hand, we can go weeks without food and go months on minimal nutrition.

    And it’s not about stockpiling water. That’s hard to do for any long duration. The recommendations vary, but on average a person needs to drink a half-gallon of water a day.

    If there are 6 people in your group that’s 3 gallons of water a day just for drinking. Do the math. It adds up when you start thinking about additional water for cooking, bathing, washing, and anything else.

    The critical success factor with water gets back to sustainability. More accurately, it’s the ability to find, collect, purify, and store water on a regular basis.

    Read More:

    Survival Food

    Survival Food in a Box

    How much food you stockpile depends on your own personal feelings about risk and preparedness. Recommendations vary, but standard advice is to store foods with long shelf-lives, focus on staples or ingredients that allow you to make a variety of nutritious meals, and to eat what you store and store what you eat.

    There’s also that sustainability factor related to gardening, wild foraging, and hunting to supplement and potentially replace your food storage.

    Read more:

    Food Storage

    Food Storage Pantry

    Even products specifically manufactured and packaged for long-term storage are susceptible to spoilage if not stored correctly. Your food needs to be in a cool, dark, dry location and sealed inside airtight bags or buckets or both.

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    Cooking Outdoors Over a Fire

    If you don’t know how to cook it’s time to learn. And after you’ve done that it’s time to learn how to cook without power. Meals have always been associated with comfort and the ability to prepare a decent meal is not only critical to physical survival but emotional survival as well.

    And while you’re at it, take some time to learn about pioneer recipes and cooking styles. The best lessons for cooking without power are from those who never needed it.

    Read More:


    Gardening Rake Tilling Soil

    You don’t need green acres to have a garden. You can even grow vegetables in buckets. You might be surprised at how much food you can grow indoors. Sometimes you have to be creative about how you’re creative.

    Read More:


    Project DIY In The Garage

    In a long-term disaster, there will be many days when we are confronted with do-it-yourself projects. That’s the challenge when we’re on our own. There’s nobody else to do it.

    Read more:


    Upcycling Legos Into Planter

    Upcycling is the ability to take something and use it or modify it in a new and unique way. At a time when supplies are limited, it’s a great way to find resources we wouldn't have considered before.

    Read more:

    Home Defense

    Home Defense Burglar Breaking In

    Home defense gets back to the question of, “Where are you?” It’s situational to some degree, but your location can be proportional to the level and type of threat.

    If you're in the city and the grocery stores are empty, you'll want to turn your home into a fortress. If you're in the country and the disaster is temporary, home defense won't be quite as important (but important nonetheless).

    Read More:

    Self Defense

    Self Defense Street Fighting

    Be careful out there. Any encounter with other people in a time of disaster will always deliver an elevated level of threat. It’s fair to assume that others are desperate, equally afraid, potentially panicked, mistrustful, or worse–looking to take advantage of the chaos of the situation.

    How you defend yourself personally has a lot to do with your physical condition, your abilities, and how well you’ve prepared for the worst. In many instances, the best defense is to avoid situations where you’ll need to defend yourself.

    Read More:


    Weapons Firearms Hanging On Wall

    If the disaster gets severe enough and looters are going door to door in search of supplies, you may have no choice but to use a deadly weapon in self-defense. Start researching them now and learn to use them ahead of time.

    Read More:

    When The SHTF

    When The SHTF In The City

    Some disasters go from bad to worse. At other times, disasters pile on top of disasters. Wildfires during a pandemic come to mind. It’s the kind of thinking worth considering as you assess what could really happen.

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    Weather Disaster Flooded Village

    In the category of natural disasters, weather tops the list and the list is long. From hurricanes to tornadoes, tsunamis, wildfires caused by drought, mudslides and landslides caused by rain, typhoons, blizzards, deep freezes, heat waves, and did we mention dams bursting?

    Weather is an equal opportunity disaster. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you live, at some point in time the weather is going to cause problems from power outages to flooding or worse.

    Preparation Depends on Location

    People living in coastal areas prone to flooding and wind damage from hurricanes have a different set of things to worry about than someone living in a dry, inland valley subject to wildfires or desert drought. FEMA has a standard set of disaster preparedness plans and recommendations, and you should consult their website to assess the threats in your area.

    And it’s not just about staying safe at home. You need to think about what to do if you’re at work, if the kids are at school, or if anyone in your family is on the road traveling. Given the extreme weather we’ve all experienced, it stands to reason that someday you or someone you know is going to be adversely affected by the weather. Now is a good time to think about how you can prepare for the possibilities.

    Read More:

    Economic Survival

    Economic Recession Graphic

    When we think about economic collapse, our first thoughts turn to the Great Depression. In actual fact, the current GDP and unemployment in the U.S. are statistically greater than the worst numbers of the Great Depression.

    What’s obvious is that many disasters can quickly lead to economic disasters. How well the economy recovers from COVID-19 remains to be seen.

    Read More:

    Holidays Amidst Disaster

    Holiday Street Decor

    The current lament is loud and clear as people have postponed weddings, birthday parties, and other common gatherings due to the pandemic. Still, people have found ways to stay connected and even get together in small groups.

    There’s no reason to cancel Christmas, although some may choose to celebrate it differently than others. Now might be a good time to practice some of those new DIY skills, or at least think about what people may appreciate at any celebration.

    Read More:

    Preparing for a New Normal

    If the past shows any precedent, it’s that disasters have long-lasting effects. It’s human nature to want things to return to normal, but what every generation has seen is that they returned to a new definition of normal following a calamitous disaster.

    It happened after the Great Depression and following both World War I and World War II. What normal looks like after the Coronavirus pandemic has passed will redefine all of the generations currently enduring it. The only question that remains is what kind of disasters may inevitably follow? And how prepared will we be when they occur?

    By now, you can see all this website has to offer. However, there are many other great websites about survival and preparedness. Here is a list of the best survival sites.

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