When looking into how to create a bug-out bag, chances are, you’ve already come across several lists telling you what items to include—if you are trying to survive in the wilderness! Many of us live in cities, though, and survival in an urban environment is much different. You will need to know what to put in your urban survival bug-out bag.
An urban bug-out bag is built to handle the unique challenges of surviving a disaster situation in a city, the suburbs, or a large town. Survival in urban areas is much different than in the great outdoors: shelter is more easily found, and there are more opportunities to scavenge for food or other necessities. But there is more risk from hazardous chemicals and dangerous building materials to worry about.
Some of the basics are still the same, of course. In your bag, you will still want to include a first aid kit, a sturdy knife, some sort of food, eating utensils, matches/lighter, and any other useful items you think you might need. And don’t forget to carry some cash in your vest in small denominations. It’s always a good idea!
Here are some specific items to consider adding to your bug-out bag if you are a city-dweller:
Face Mask or Gas Mask
Many urban disasters involve toxic gases or debris in the air. Some of these you may encounter are smoke from buildings on fire, toxic fumes from chemical attacks, pepper spray or tear gas, and debris particles in the air from earthquakes or other natural disasters. With the addition of pandemics, a mask around your neck or stowed in your urban bug-out bag, can be a life saver.
Breathing is essential to survival. Protect your lungs by packing some sort of mask. Types of masks include dust masks, respirators, escape hoods, and full-face gas masks. A gas mask is the most protective, but the most expensive and bulky option.
Do some research and find what fits your life and budget. This is an important component of a bug-out bag for urban dwellers!
Goggles are important to protect your eyes the same way that a face mask protects your nose and mouth. When debris or toxins are in the air, it becomes a hazard to the delicate tissues around your eyes. This can cause irritation and even permanent damage, not to mention making it hard to see or do anything.
Heavy Duty Gloves
Be sure that a thick, sturdy pair of work gloves is in your urban bug-out bag. The urban environment is full of sharp, unforgiving materials. Damaged buildings, windows, sidewalks, streets, and other objects are going to be in your way as you seek shelter, search for what you need to survive, or try to get out of the area.
The last thing you need is to damage your hands on a piece of sharp glass, rusted rebar, or a jagged hunk of asphalt. How will you take care of yourself or your loved ones if you can’t use your hands?
SAFEAT Safety Grip Work Gloves for Men and Women – Protective, Flexible, Cut Resistant, Comfortable PU Coated Palm, Level 5 Protection
Most lists talking about bug-out bags do mention water in some way, but it bears repeating: always have a way to store water! A water bladder is easy to store since it is practically weightless when empty. Most of them are quite easy to use, and you can buy backpacks made with an inner pocket and hose pass-through for it.
At least a 2-liter water bladder is recommended, but use what makes sense for you. Also recommended are either a water filter straw or water purification tablets.
A multi-tool is an all-in-one type of tool that encompasses many needs into one compact design. Two types of multi-tool are the “Swiss Army Knife” style, where the tools all fold out from a pocket knife handle and the “Butterfly Knife” style, where two handles open out into pliers and all the other tools fold out of the two handles.
Typically, a multi-tool will have both flathead and Phillips head screwdrivers, pliers, a bottle opener, scissors, and some cutting edges. Try to find one with wire cutters, too, and place it in your urban bug-out bag.
Portable Solar Charger
In an emergency, it is quite likely that the electricity will be down. You won’t be able to charge your phone or anything else that needs power. Having a fully charged portable power bank is an exceptionally good idea, and having a portable solar charger is even better.
A portable solar charger can charge your phone, tablet, a flashlight, or any other rechargeable electronics you might have. Most recent models recharge relatively fast in full sun. As long as you have the power of the sun, you won’t have to worry about running out of charge in your devices!
Manual Can Opener
This seems like a no-brainer, but a lot of us use electric can openers these days. Do you even have a manual can opener in your house? Well get two and put one in your bug-out bag!
When disaster strikes, fresh, frozen, and refrigerated food are all going to be in short supply. Canned food, however, will suddenly become a staple in your diet, whether it’s from your own pantry or the food you’ve managed to scavenge in your quest for survival. But you can’t eat it if you can’t get into it!
You are going to need light. Imagine there being no electricity and how dark the city will be as you try to make your way around at night, or even at dusk. That’s to say nothing of the darkness inside tunnels, buildings, homes, etc. While a flashlight will work and is highly encouraged, a headlamp is an even more efficient way to meet your sight needs. A headlamp leaves your arms free to carry things, move things, and, most important, defend yourself.
A Sillcock Key (also called water keys, valve keys, curb keys, or plumbers keys) is a metal wrench that looks like an X. It fits in the palm of your hand and is usually fairly inexpensive.
During a survival situation, finding water might be difficult. Having a Sillcock key in your urban survival bug-out bag helps you access secured commercial or your residential water valves that don’t have the standard knobs we’re used to on our regular plumbing. It is also a good tool to have in an emergency situation for shutting off gas mains and accessing a stuck between floors elevator panel.
Willbond 4-Way Multi-Functional Utilities Key for Electric Water Gas Meter Box Cupboard Cabinet Opening Key
A Pry Bar, or Utility Bar, is a versatile tool that can also be used as a self-defensive weapon, if the need should arise. A pry bar can be used to force things open, hammer things into place, raise things out of place, and much more. A good tool to have in the event of an earthquake, hurricane, or tornado.
Your Urban Survival Bug-Out Bag
Not all bug-out bags are created equal. You need to create your bag for the environment you expect to be in when disaster strikes. If that environment is an urban area, think about the specialized needs you will have there.
Obviously this list isn’t all-inclusive, but these ten items should help you be more fully prepared for surviving in your city or town in an emergency.
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