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When city dwellers hear the words “wilderness skills”, they usually ignore them–even if they’re preppers. They tend to think something like, “This doesn’t really apply to me because I live in the city. I’ll never need to start a bow drill, anyway… I have 3 lighters!”
The fact of the matter is, most wilderness survival skills are relevant to urban survival scenarios as well. In the example I just gave you, knowing at least a couple other ways to start a fire is going to be a life saver when you realize none of your Bic lighters are working (don’t get me wrong, Bic lighters are great, but you never know).
So let’s see a list of survival skills you’d normally use in the wilderness that are just as needed in urban scenarios.
1. Starting a Fire
There are numerous ways to start a fire, including:
- Using flint and steel.
- Using a lens.
- Using the bow drill method.
- Using the fire plough method.
Of course, there’s more to the method than just getting those sparks. You need tinder, dry wood, a good place to build it, you need to ensure you keep it going as well as remembering to put it out when you don’t need it anymore or when you go to sleep. Just because you have plenty of matches or lighters doesn’t mean you shouldn’t learn how to start a fire without them.
2. Purifying Water
Whether you get your emergency water from a river or a pond in your city, the ways to purify it are exactly the same. You can either buy a portable purifier such as the LifeStraw, get some water purification tablets, or you can learn to build an actual water filtration system with charcoal, grass, rocks, and sand (here’s how). That might sound like a lot of work, but if you’re stuck in the city without a water filter or tablets and all you can find is a dirty-looking puddle, you won’t have much choice.
3. Medical Skills
Knowing how to clean and suture a wound, applying the different kinds of band-aids, or doing chest compressions are just a few of the things everyone should know how to do. Post-collapse, one of the realities most of us would rather not think about is the fact that we could get injured and there might not be any doctors who can help. Knowing what to do in these moments could mean the difference between getting to actually use our supplies or dying in the aftermath of a disaster. If you’re not sure where to begin, check out The Survival Medicine Handbook. It’s probably the best survival medicine book for laymen you’ll find anywhere.
In the wilderness you need to be able to protect yourself from dangerous animals, but cities have the most dangerous animals of all: humans. The best way to learn basic self-defense moves is to take a live class. If you’re looking to get more into it, you’ll probably want to look into martial arts such as Krav Maga. It’s one of the best self-defense systems for preppers.
This is closely related to the last skill. If someone is charging toward you, you need to be able to draw your gun and aim quickly and accurately. Guns are such a vast topic that I won’t even try to go into the details here. While shotguns and rifles are more suitable for rural and wilderness scenarios, handguns are more suitable if you live in an apartment (and they’re easier to conceal), but it’s up to you. And again, you’re better off if you take a live class. Here’s a list of courses you can search for in your area.
Knowing how to use radio equipment is important whether you’re trapped in a city or free as a bird in the wilderness. If the disaster is serious, phone lines will be jammed and it will be impossible to communicate with loved ones without something like a CB radio or a satellite phone. Better yet, get a ham radio. This is probably your best option after a disaster. Just don’t forget to get a license first.
7. Mental Skills
Mental toughness is hard to “practice” unless you intentionally put yourself in SHTF situations. Nevertheless, doing drills and using powerful visualization techniques can do two things:
- Make sure you don’t panic or freeze when face-to-face with death.
- Ensure that you’ll better cope in the aftermath with all the stress, regrets, negative feelings and, most of all, your losses.
The odds of you breaking down mentally sooner or later are bigger than you think. [See the article, 14 Ways To Stay Calm During A Disaster.]
8. Identifying Wild Edibles
If you can’t get home, the food in your emergency kit is gone, and all the stores have been ransacked, you may have to resort to eating whatever plants you can find to survive. While this is a very common wilderness survival skill, most people don’t consider using it in urban areas. But the fact is, there are all sorts of wild edibles you can find in the city. You should also learn the universal edibility test.
Truth be told, there are a lot more skills that are useful in urban situations. And if you live in the city with plans to flee to a bug out location or into the wild, you need to know all of them because you never know where you might end up. Which ones should you start with? I think a couple of better questions to ask yourself are: “Which disaster is more likely to hit?” and “What will I do when it happens?”
I wrote an article with all the possible disasters and critical events that might hit. Use that article as a starting point to figure out what you should learn next.