Total City WTSHTF Survival- Part 1, by NDT

I’ve been a SurvivalBlog reader for years and grew up prepping. My parents were preppers in the 90’s, so I’ve been through the full spectrum. I love the articles and especially all the news to be found on SurvivalBlog. I appreciate the hard work all the authors have put into their articles over the years and recognize that most individual skills and ideas have been put to ink. I’m going to attempt the 10,000-aerial view in this approach to city survival. My military background taught me to do a risk assessment for everything, and I practice this today. The million-dollar question is, “What do I need to prepare for?”. We cannot predict the future, but we can consider the past and see trends and patterns and learn from those. Consider this.

Create a Risk Assessment

The earth has been hit with many asteroids over its existence, and per a map that I found the location seems random. The frequency of these impacts is rare and typically minor.

Looking at a risk assessment matrix regarding risk with earth space impacts, I conclude that it is an “improbable” event with “catastrophic” to “negligible” severity. The threats seen from an earth space impact are fire, dust, impact, loss of power, social services, et cetera. You can use the risk assessment matrix to evaluate types of events that could be likely in your local areas. I live near Dayton, Ohio, so I will use this as the case example.

You should know some history of your city/county and natural disasters that are prevalent. Dayton is in what is known as the Miami Valley, which houses the Miami River, which is a tributary of the Ohio River. The Ohio River flows west then south and empties out into the Mississippi, which empties into the Gulf of Mexico. Dayton has five dams, which were built in response to the great Dayton flood in 1914. Dayton is not known for earthquakes or fires, and flooding has been reduced since 1914. We have a variety of wind directions, and sometimes tornados can touch down. We also have the Wright-Patterson Airforce base, which is a high value strategic U.S. asset. Ohio falls under Region 5 of Homeland Security, and our Statewide Interoperability Coordinator is Richard Schmahl, who is responsible for coordinating emergency communications. Ohio has 11.59 million people, and 1.6 million of those receive SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). We have the intersection of I-70 and I-75 interstates, which assists us in being a manufacturing hub. Every bit of this information is important in a survival situation. You will personally want to know where your city water comes from and if a city wide power failure will result in raw sewage emptying into your home. Threats that we face here, rated by the risk assessment chart, per the likelihood and damage level are discussed here. I will follow with threat types, remembering that this brain storming session will require some creativity.

Asteroid Hit

  • Dust
  • Fire
  • Loss of power, et cetera

Forest Fire

  • Dust
  • Fire
  • Loss of power, et cetera

Car Accident

  • Abrasions
  • Fire, et cetera

Looking at the sub threats, we see fire and dust are common threats, so an economical solution could be to have some fire-resistant clothing on or accessible. Once you have a large list, you can start grouping the threats together and decide on the most practical course of negating threats. Fire-resistant clothing for instances is not terribly expensive, and you buy clothing anyway. Some of the stuff looks casual.

Top ten normal routine threats we face per the National Safety Council are:

  • Heart Disease and Cancer 1 in 7
  • Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease 1 in 27
  • Intentional Self-harm 1 in 97
  • Unintentional Poisoning by and Exposure to Noxious Substances 1 in 103
  • Motor Vehicle Crash 1 in 113
  • Fall (Gravity not season) 1 in 133
  • Assault by Firearm (Firearms don’t assault people) 1 in 358
  • Pedestrian Incident 1 in 672
  • Motorcycle Rider Incident 1 in 948
  • Unintentional Drowning and Submersion 1 in 1,183

Why, When, and How Do We Prep?

So, do we prep to prevent death? I would argue, “No.” Obviously, when we look at a prepper’s list against these two subjects, we realize we do not prep to extend our life. Preparation for me has three goals:

  1. Greater independence realizing my full potential to make decisions based off my own ethics and morality, not being dictated by the trends in society.
  2. To increase the quality of life within my household during routine disasters.
  3. To train my children for the above, plus to enhance the skills and ability to live in a radically different culture due to a cultural paradigm shift.

Those goals are addressed with three categories:

  • Skills
  • Practices
  • Equipment

Let us say, predominately we prepare for paradigm shifts and we prepare all the time. Well, I know the countryside is a better place to live, but you are probably like me, living in the city and in an apartment. It’s the worst place to be during Schumer events. So, let’s get to work! What skills do you need? If the Schumer hits the fan, city folks can use these skills. Each have their own perspective equipment and practices.

Map Reading

Topographical maps are wonderful in the country but in the city I wonder. Just get a street map and get to know it! Give yourself extra time, and turn off GPS; take alternative routes to work. In Cultural Neuroscience: Cultural Influences on Brain Function, it states that taxi cab drivers have greater hippocampal brain volume based on studies of London taxi cab drivers. The increased brain function is due to spatial mapping. Engaging in spatial mapping will increase brain function, even if it is during game play. Practice thinking about like a spy; they never take the same route to and from a place, and military folk try to avoid that as well.


In that same peer reviewed paper, they mention the benefits of music playing on the brain, so grab an instrument and start to learn. If you are on the run and hiding in the streets, nothing is better than hiding in plain view. Beaten and battered, pull out your harmonica, put a hat on the ground, and start to play. You’ll get well needed rest and possibly bring in some dough for your next meal. (The Arshanskaya sisters are two examples of Jews using music to sustain their safety.)


If Canada is your target location to split, French would be a decent option while also used in Europe. If Mexico is your target location, learn Spanish. To learn a language, there are many techniques. Listen to the music, choose a song, listen to it over and over until you are proficient in it, while also reading the lyrics in that language. Once you can recite the song, from beginning to end without the music playing and can spell it, then you should translate the song to English. The worst case scenario is at least you can hum and sing the song under your breath to convince others you are speaking that language, which may not fool the natives of that language but could fool somebody into thinking you cannot understand them and then avoid any questioning altogether. If you want to become proficient in a language, the quickest method is to immerse yourself in the language and culture, cooking your favorite SurvivalBlog recipe after you have translated it into French. Another note about culture has to do with table etiquette, which can reveal where you are from, especially in Europe.

Morse Code

Morse code is an ancient, barely used dialect. As I’m writing this, my daughter distracts me while she is playing on my smart phone, which starts beeping. She is playing with one of my Morse Code applications, which teaches morse code in a fun way. Morse code also has international codes, making it versatile.


When I was stationed in Afghanistan, we had civilian vehicles. What was weird was the fact that the driver wheel was on the right-hand side of the vehicle. Oh, yes, and it was stick shift. I already could drive a stick shift, so I was a lucky one who got to drive the vehicles instead of hoofing it. The key here, is that I could drive a stick shift.


I’m here in the Mid-west and have always loved ship adventure books, but I thought that sailing was something I could never learn. Enter CLSA, Cowan Lake Sailing Association, and twenty dollars. Now I have several sailing hours under my belt from an entry class. I was amazed how inexpensive it was and how much experience I got from it. Sailing ships are used everywhere, and having this skill could help you charter passageway for work if you already have some experience. Also, many coast cities have harbors where you can find lots of handy work to do working on boats. I’ve spent hours on this subject realizing there is a plethora of skills that can be leaned heavily upon. Rigging is something you learn a lot with sailing, which is multi-functional. As seen in the national safety council chart, “falling” is a common cause of death. So, learn how to tie a Swiss Seat; you could even keep one for the car with some basic carabiners. Learn some rigging skills and practice them. Rigging is one of the most under taught skills of city dwellers; so, learn rigging for trucking, climbing, boating, and anything else you can get a hold of.


If you had to go to another country, who would you visit? You should have a few contacts in the areas of interest of your “bug out location” that you could contact for help, or at least can claim you were visiting for the sake of legitimacy. Having a small list of some names and locations in your wallet; this list could assist you in remembering who these people are. So, if you intended to go to Winnipeg, Canada, meet some people online that have like interest, perhaps hockey. Build a list of people and keep in contact with them. Then, if something comes up where you must for whatever reason bug out, you then have a list of people you could contact who already know who you are and an excuse, such as a hockey game or music, et cetera. These people should not know anything about you beyond that you love the Winnipeg Jets. You should know about hockey and keep some literature on hand should you need to refresh the details of hockey and the Jets.


Have one, and use it. Create a routine of visiting different locations, so it is not out of the ordinary, both for yourself and as far as your paperwork goes. Being familiar with a process, such as a border crossing, can turn something from a mountain to a mole hill. Also, you can become familiar with practices and routines and so can identify unusual security precautions that could threaten your personal mission.