Tips For Prepping In The City

Preppers living in the city have a hard time getting their affairs in order, and they have to struggle much more compared to the rest of us. It is true that prepping in the city is complicated, but it’s not impossible. Let’s look at what you can do if you live in the city and you want to be prepared for the uncertain future.

You never know what the future may bring

One day, you may be home binge-watching your favorite TV show, and the power goes out. You look at your cellphone, and it’s dead, and checking your smartwatch reveals it is as dark and dead as your cellphone. You slowly realize something big is happening, and you run to your car to see if it starts. No luck there either. You are now forced to put your emergency plan into action.

While this scenario seems less plausible to a lot of city folks since it’s quite rare, it is one of the many possible disasters in which someone might be stuck inside their home, especially if they live in an urban environment.

During such an emergency situation, there’s no room to act for an easy evacuation or bugging out, and it will catch people off guard. Most will be left without the essential items to keep themselves and their loved ones fed, warm and safe. To avoid being part of a possible gruesome statistic, it’s better to learn what you can do for prepping in the city.

Your home, your rules

your home, your rules

A home needs to be well-stocked and well-fortified regardless if it’s located in the city or in a rural area. When disaster strikes and you lack access to utilities, it’s critical to have previously acquired items that would help your house function and provide an equal or similar level of comfort you and your family are used to.

All the things you and yours are consuming on a daily basis will be exhausted in a disaster, and it’s just a matter of time until you run out of various stuff. Prepping in the city, as said previously, is not easy, but it can be done, and there are examples of people making it through harsh times. For example, during Katrina, a lot of people were able to stay at home without utilities for months.

The utilities and necessities of a household are not always portable, and certain items will be used and shared daily by members of the same family. The bathroom, kitchen, and laundry rooms are some of the things that members of your family should be able to access.

The need for water, food, and cooking

the need for water, food, and cooking

If you are prepping in the city, water will be one of your main concerns since this is a resource we can’t live without. No matter the length of the emergency, you need to have a proper water storage solution and filtration methods to cover your water needs.

Your main objective is to establish a potable water supply that everyone in your family can use and your secondary objective is to find a viable outside replenishment source. This is quite hard to achieve since finding water in the city is rather difficult. Even more, all raw water you find should be considered contaminated, and you should be able to prepare and process every drop of water you use, regardless if it comes from drains, fountains, or a nearby creek. Make sure you have various filtration devices to make such water potable.

Those prepping in the city make everything possible to have a well-stock pantry, and in some cases, they prioritize this over other needs. While it’s highly recommended to stock up on food items, never prioritize food over water.

Regarding food acquisition, you have access to both fresh and canned goods as long as the supply chain still works. Cities contain various grocery stores, and these are equipped with pretty much anything you can think of and need/want. It’s never late for prepping in the city, so make sure you acquire long-term storage foods such as canned goods, beans, pasta, rice, and dehydrated foods or MREs if you can afford them.

Since storage is one of the issues folks have to deal with when prepping in the city, it’s best if you make some calculations and you establish how much food you need to have in your house. For example, a close friend of mine living in the city, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, follows the estimates of their church for long-term survival preparations.

Based on their aptitude and skills, the minimum food supplies they stock for an adult to survive a year are:

  • 60 pounds of legumes
  • 400 pounds of grains
  • 16 pounds of powdered milk
  • 10 quarts of cooking oil
  • 8 pounds of salt,
  • 60 pounds of sugar and/or honey

Once they have these supplies covered, they add more commonly eaten foods depending on the available storage space in each household.

Storing the supplies properly is critical when prepping in the city since the way you store the supplies will extend their life. You will need to ensure optimal temperature and humidity if you want to achieve long shelf lives.

Regarding the cooking methods you will employ to prepare a warm meal, these may be as simple as using a can stove or as “complicated” as using a solar oven or a propane stove. This really depends on what type of meals you will need to cook.

Experimenting with the foods you’re stockpiling is the key to success here, and you need to keep this in mind while prepping in the city. Try various recipes, combine these recipes if possible, and prepare a meal using various cooking methods. By doing so, you will discover how much time it takes, how much fuel you need, and if the final product/meal is the one expected or not.

Heating and heat retention

heating and heat retention

These are two major problems when prepping in the city because when public utilities are shut down, you won’t have too many alternative sources of heating. Living in a cold and humid environment is bad for your health, and many people die of hypothermia, even in the United States.

If you are prepping in the city, keep in mind that you won’t be able to install wood-burning stoves and fireplaces. Even more, the way homes are built these days, the principle of thermal mass is mostly ignored due to cost and other factors.

You will need to explore and experiment with various methods to keep yourself warm and insulate your home during the cold months. If you have camping gear, you can put it to good use since it will help you keep your family warm and safe. Set up the tent in the living room and keep everyone inside the tent when it gets cold. The tent will capture the heat the people radiate and will prevent the rising air from escaping too quickly.

Also, when sleeping, dress in clothing made from traditional materials such as wool or acquire clothes made from modern insulation materials. Such clothing will help you sleep without fear of freezing to death.

Regarding insulation, use cardboard or bubble wrap on windows and exterior walls since these materials can do a pretty decent job at creating a thermal barrier. Also, create thermal mass using the water you’ve stored. If it’s not freezing outside, you can leave a few containers of water outside in the sun to warm up during the day. Bring those containers inside, and they will gradually release the captured heat at night.

Waste treatment

This will be another problem when you are prepping in the city, and fecal waste is one of the biggest health risks in an urban environment. Once the sanitation or trash removal systems stop working, waste amasses quickly due to a big population density.

You will need to figure out ways to maintain a centralized location for waste, and you have to keep it out of the living space. Ideally, you should be able to bury it properly in a safe place, and you should have the right tools for this job.

Unfortunately, there aren’t many alternatives for waste treatment when you are prepping in the city, and depending on the length of the emergency situation, the accumulation of human waste will pose a problem to you and yours.

freedom water system

Lighting and modern devices

Thanks to technology advancements in the lighting department and due to new materials being used to provide better and more efficient (cost-wise) lighting, there are many options to help you illuminate your household.

There are solar applications in all devices, and you can use solar-powered flashlights or lamps to light up an entire room. You can use solar chargers, solar batteries, and pretty much anything you can think of for prepping in the city. Such items will help you with your lighting needs and will also help charge other devices that you may need (cellphones, iPads, radios, etc.).

And when there’s no sun, you can also use other power-generating devices that only require you to be in decent physical shape. One such device is the K-TOR Power Box, a pedal generator that can help you charge whatever device you need. I have one of these, and I can tell you for a fact that it delivers 14 volts 3 amps to a Standard Automotive 12-volt socket, and once you use it with a 12-volt to USB converter accessory, you can charge pretty much anything you can think of.

Have a plan B

have a plan b

If you are prepping in the city, you need to have a plan B since things can always go sideways. You may be doing everything right, and you may have a well-equipped household that allows you to survive at least a year without major concerns, but that won’t be enough.

In an environment with a high population density, the human factor will always pose a risk. Not only it’s the most unpredictable of all risk factors, but it’s also the most resilient one. Sooner or later, you will be forced to interact with other humans, regardless if you like it or not, and you need to be prepared to handle such situations.

Now, I’m not going to go into details about self-defense and the acquisition of guns and ammo to help protect your castle. These measures will only work to keep your loved ones safe when you have to deal with a few individuals. There’s no way you can defeat an increased number of attackers, and even if you may discourage them from trying to enter your home, they will always come back.

Desperation leads to heinous acts, and human behavior is highly unpredictable when people can’t take it anymore. There’s no point in fighting the entire world if you can’t win. And since you can’t banner1win, it’s better to have a plan B and get out of dodge.

Bugging out should always be considered and acted upon if you are prepping in the city because it may be the only course of action that guarantees your longevity. You basically have two choices when it comes to bugging out while prepping in the city.

The first is to bug out when you see that the “power outage” we mentioned in the beginning, is more than a temporary failure of the power grid. In such a case, the suggestions provided in this article won’t apply since you have a place to go, and you’ve probably made plans to reach that place safely.

And the second is to wait it out and hope things will get back to normal and bug out only if you are forced to do so. In such a case, you will have to find ways to keep a low profile when things take a turn for the worst and people tend to become desperate. This is harder to do for most folks, especially if children are involved and if they lack certain survival knowledge and skills. Most folks will wait until one of their preparations fails or when they are forced to interact with the outside world.

If you are prepping in the city, and you decide to bug out, may it be when the brown stuff hits the fan or when the situation deteriorates to the point that it becomes unbearable to you and yours, make sure you have the means to get out of the city and do so safely.


While prepping in the city is not impossible, we have to acknowledge that there are some hardships you have to overcome and some risks your family will be exposed to. The suggestions listed above will help you survive more than your neighbors, but that’s not always a guarantee.

Being prepared is only half of the job, and you need to be willing to move out of the city and start over somewhere else when the situation becomes miserable.

Recommended resources for preppers and homesteaders:

New engineering in Solar Panels helps you build a 3D solar array easily at home

How to build an underground cellar for less than $400

The only survival tree you should grow in your backyard

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