Cities – A Prepper’s Worst Nightmare & Solutions


by Jessica Hooley

Is it a coincidence that all of my nightmares occur in big cities? While it may be a personality glitch, I find that considering the dangers you face in the event of an emergency while living in a city, my nightmares may be justified. If you live in a city – buckle up. As a prepper you will have to work extra hard to make your emergency plan viable. And while I make no judgments on city dwellers, I must say – MOVE! For your own safety – MOVE! Move, move, move, move, move. Okay. I think I got it all out.

Now I understand that not everyone can just pick up and move because some lady on the internet says so. So if you are in the situation where you must stay in the city here are a few things you MUST have in your emergency preparedness plan.

Define Your Strategy

One of the biggest problems with cities are the fact that they aren’t self-sustaining. They rely on outer communities to supply them with food, water and often times electricity. The second biggest issue with cities is the space. Most homes/apartments/condos don’t have the space needed to store supplies for 6 months to a year. And even if they did there is a severely high probability of civil unrest, leading to looting and robbery. In short – you need a plan. The three questions to ask yourself:

  1. How long will we stay
  2. How will we get out
  3. Where will we go

How long will we stay – As I said before, in a city you must resign yourself to the fact that you will have to leave if the situation escalates to a point where you either have no supplies or your safety is in jeopardy. Decide with your family how long this period is going to be. After the power is out, the food is gone, and the shelves are empty in the grocery stores of all liquid – how much longer will you hold down the fort. Too short and you may have bugged out too soon. Too long and you risk the possibility of not being able to get out.

How will we get out – Your exit strategy needs to be well planned out. Come up with a minimum of three routes out of the city. You’ve seen how a couple thousand people can shut down a road. Imagine the magnification of that situation when millions are out looking for food and water. You need to be able to navigate your way through the mess and be prepared to defend you and your family. I’ll go into further detail later.

Where will we go – Once again, come up with a couple places as a destination if possible. Think of relatives out in the “boonies”. Anyone that you consider as being in a safe part of the world. If you don’t know anyone within a reasonable distance (you may run out of fuel) start thinking of areas that you could stay. Hotels. Camp spots. Some place to “ride it out”.

Make Connections

As we’ve pointed out before, the population of cities can quickly turn into one of your biggest challenges. So it’s up to you to change that. Build your community into your own personal defense. Help those around you prepare. Educate them about emergency preparedness. You don’t need to reveal all of your prepping secrets but by preparing others you are ensuring help in the event that looting reaches your neighborhood. If everyone has something to defend they are more likely to band together. By not including your neighbors you are making them a potential threat to you. And the last thing you’ll want is to have to pull a gun on your neighbor if they are trying to take your supplies out of desperation.

Get the Gear

Bug-Out Gear

Although it may not seem like “gear” – a truck may likely be the most important bug-out necessity for someone in a big city. Reasons why:

  • Capable of hauling ALL of your bug-out supplies
  • You will need something capable of maneuvering around rubble, waste, people and stalled vehicles on the road.
  • Able to store extra fuel in the bed to get further away.

Outside of an off road vehicle, you will also need the following items:

  1. 96 hour kits for each person in the family
  2. 7 days of water – 1 to 2 gallons of water per person per day
  3. A full gas tank and 40 extra gallons to haul

Make sure in your plan to bug out, you have someone armed. When trying to leave the city there will be plenty of people outside waiting to stop you and take what you have. You must be prepared to face the realization that you may have to defend yourself with force.


No matter where you live, water is the basis to sustaining life. If you are planning to stay in your house longer than a week (after water is unavailable) you need to make storing water a big priority. Get creative with your water storage. As you can find in my other posts, polycarbonate containers are great for water storage. If you are crammed on space, I highly recommend WaterBricks®. You can store upwards of 60 gallons underneath your queen size bed alone with them. No matter what you decide for a storage system – make the most out of it. You’ll want to store 1-2 gallons for each person in your family for every day you plan on staying in your home.

Food Storage

Food storage goes along the same lines as water. Make a food storage list to last your family the time you will be staying in your home. The key to your food storage is making it secret. In cities, food is likely to completely run out within 3 days. People will get really hungry really fast. And if someone remembers seeing that stack of food storage in your garage, or remembers you saying something about having 6 months in your basement – you’re their first stop. Don’t put yourself in the situation where you are more likely to have to defend your storage by shouting it from a mountain top. Once again, get creative and bury it in your yard if you must.


In the event of an emergency, you will likely be facing a powerless situation. During the day you’ll just have to get used to being without certain luxuries like powered kitchen gadgets and television. But at night, no power can turn into a psychological battle. Especially for children. Have plenty of snap lights, flashlights and lanterns to keep it bright when the sun goes down so the little ones (and maybe even you) can relief during the night.

TIP: In most cities, homes and other living spaces are close together. When using your evening lighting make sure to draw the shades. Test your emergency lighting during peacetime and see which places in the house you can use them without it being seen from the outside. Light will draw more than just bugs during a power outage. And the result could end up in self defense.


Without electricity you may be in for some cold nights. Be prepared with some down blankets and 4 season sleeping bags. You can also get some indoor kerosene heaters. And if you are lucky enough to have a wood burning fireplace, put it use! Get stocked up on firewood and use it when necessary.



The terrible truth is that most places in this country where self-defense is needed most, it’s unavailable to law abiding citizens. I’m talking about guns. Big cities, despite their soaring crimes rates, seem to find rationale in banning guns whenever possible. And while free speech is still available – I’m telling you to get your hands on a gun no matter what it takes. As long as you are an otherwise law abiding citizen and you don’t hear voices in your head telling you to kill people – you need the ability to defend your property and more importantly your family.

Other fantastic weapons to have stored for self-defense include:

  • Pepper spray
  • Taser
  • Trip wires
  • A guard dog – a really mean looking one

These other defense tools are great to get someone off your property initially but keep in mind that they’ll get away and may come back with the knowledge that this time they’ll have to kill you to get your food.


If you plan to stay in your home for more than a month before bugging out, you need to consider investing in fortifications for your home. This includes making some changes that are more functional than pretty. This includes things like plexiglass windows, steel doors, removing landscaping features that people can easily hide in, blacking out windows, etc. Anything that can make your home more secure makes you less of a target.

So for all you city dwelling preppers, I hope this helped. Make your plan bullet proof. You are already at a disadvantage so have a process in place for everything you need to do. Good luck and happy prepping!

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3 Responses

  1. Stella H Howell says:

    The recommendation which Jessica has given is valuable for all city dwellers not only from the point of view as mentioned but that there will be continued unrest in cities leading to the total collapse of all cities globally.

  2. Michael Cook says:

    Out of the frying pan into the fire, goes that old saying. Is there anywhere safe on this planet to hide from the coming storm?

    The situation during the 1930′s was very similiar to what we are experiencing now. As one man seeing big trouble was coming moved to an Island in the South Pacific believing he could see out in peace the coming troubles that he foresaw coming upon the world, and which proved to be correct, as the world went into another world war. That Island he sought refuge on was Guadacanal, where one of the biggest battles of the South Pacific campaign of world war two took place.

    Consider those who are living in a tent in the USA because of the global financial crisis, would it be better for them to live in Mexico in that same tent where the cost of living is cheaper? The reality is that Mexico is on the edge of becoming a failed state, with drug gangs running most of the country and the border with the USA is in a state of siege, crime ridden, and virtually a war zone atmosphere is spreading along its whole length. Who would of thought that living in a poor little village in Pakistan could be dangerous? or Afghanistan? or Egypt, or Libya, or Syria, or is ‘your’ village or town next?

    The reality is, there is no where to go, even our own hometown is open to violent change if circumstances turn into life and death situations because of internal or external instability, which makes the basic essentials of life impossible to attain.

    As one man said, “We are nine meals from anarchy.” Supposing we are rich and have our underground bunker, with 12 months of ready made meals to see out the coming global storm, we come out of our bunker to what? Radiation? Disease? Lawless gangs? Even for the rich who survive, what good then is their gold and silver?

    Everybody no matter where they live are concerned as to what is coming, proving in itself that where they live they feel insecure, which means “everywhere” ‘is experiencing the same fears,’ yet everybody wants to be somewhere else?

    Try Guadacanal, could lightning possibly strike the same place twice?

    • Tammy says:

      You are absolutely right, Michael.
      I live in the boonies already (only about 6 neighbors within a mile of my house) and I’m just as concerned about my location as anyone could be anywhere. I’ll have to bug-in for the duration since I can’t for the life of me think of anywhere it would be ‘safe’, or even slightly safer than here.
      I gotta admit though, that I’d be almost paralyzed with indecision if I were in a big city.
      Here I have options, and anyone who lives nearby already knows I’m armed, because I target practice out back in my field. I’ve been doing the target practice since I moved here, so anyone in the area knows I can protect myself and my disabled husband. I keep a small flock of chickens, and I have incubators for if I need to increase their population quickly.(did you know there are non-electric egg incubators? They work with kerosene, which makes them dual-purpose as a room heater) We are in process of making an area to keep a trio of dairy goats. This part can be hard to do, making it secure enough so they can’t be stolen easily. I want add rabbits to our food supply, but a family member who wears really rose colored glasses thinks that rabbits are just too cute to eat. And, yes, I’ll be feeding her too if it comes to that. She certainly won’t be able to feed herself. I’m thinking she might turn vegetarian faced with eating animals she has seen living. But I have a huge vegetable garden inside the fence all around my house, so we may all be turning to vegetarians eventually.

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