Archive for February, 2012

If you are at all interested in survival or disaster preparedness, you have come across the term Situational Awareness. In general, it is taught in conjunction with other techniques one would employ to stay alive in any given environment. Employing situational awareness gives us time to react to a threat.  For our purposes, we will look at how to employ situational awareness in the urban environment.

The first step is to recognize there is a difference between situational awareness and “being aware.”  Just being aware is passive.  Employing situational awareness is active.  Situational awareness is taking environmental cues and reacting to those cues.

Why it is important to use situational awareness

You were taught situational awareness early on in your life. The first time your parents said look both ways before crossing the street, they were teaching you situational awareness. You look at the traffic (both ways) then you take that information and then decide whether or not you should cross the street.  While crossing, you continually look for changes in the environment and decide if you should walk slower or faster.  This may take a fraction of a second.  Check out these illustrations.

Unfortunately, somewhere along the way, a lot of us have lost the lessons our parents taught us and have to be reminded about this kind of  basic situational awareness; common sense.  For instance, who would in their right mind would walk on a train track?  And if they did, would not constantly look around them for a train?  Well, this guy…

Even those people who are in theatres of danger have to consciously and constantly practice situational awareness.  It does become easier as we practice it, but we have to practice.  So the next time you are walking on the street take a second and take a 360 degree look around you, above and below you.  Ask yourself,  “do I see  any possible dangers that are within striking distance of me and how much time will I have to react?”

How much time did this guy have?  Sometimes you just have to be lucky……

Thanks to Bill B. for sending the videos and inspiring this post.

Next… Situational Awareness in the dojo.

Paracord Bracelet

**Update:  I was in the Christmas Tree Shop recently. Yes, I shop at the Christmas Tree Shop- a real man will admit it!  While there I came across paracord bracelets for $2.99.  They claim to be made of 550 paracord and there were several colors and sizes available.  I didn’t buy one so I can’t show you here but if you have a Christmas Tree shop near you, stop by and check them out yourself.  While you’re there you can pick up one of those nifty paper-mache garden gnomes.

These bracelets are all the rage with the survival crowd.  They are made with 550 paracord which is rated to be able to hold at least 550 pounds.  The intent is to unravel them and use the paracord in an emergency.  What is surprising about them is the length of cord that can be all wrapped up in a bracelet.  The one I am modeling here is made up of two pieces of paracord one approximately 9 feet and another that is 2 and a half feet.

You can buy these already made for about $30.00 on the internet or make your own.  I gave it a shot and made my own.  The materials cost me about $3.00 and it took me about 20 minutes.  I also made a fastening knot at the end that fit much better than the simple knots that most instructions illustrate.  You can buy a small clip assembly if you wish and it will  close more flush to your wrist.

Paracord bracelet

Here is the link to the site that had instructions on how to make the cobra weave bracelet you see here.  Give it a try!

you are riding the subway/metro/underground and a blackout occurs midway between stations.  It is rush hour and there is a wave of panic among your fellow straphangers.




Okay…. before you log on to your email accounts to write some witty remarks on how I’ve gone all Martha Stewart, let me explain (but bring it on anyway). This blog is not only meant to prepare you for surviving an unexpected natural or man-made disaster but also unexpected or sudden life changes. The loss of a job, a divorce or simply going away to school and living on a shoe-string budget are some reasons one may wish to look hard at making affordable meals that are quick, easy, nutritious, cheap and can be modified for taste. 

Ramen noodles have been the staple of college dorms for years. One problem with just preparing ramen noodles as recommended on the package is that you can get pretty sick of the taste rather quickly.  But, they are cheap (about 25 cents a pack) and easy to make. Another problem is that if you prepare one block of a typical Ramen Noddle soup with the accompanying seasoning packet (a 2 serving size believe it or not), you will get 380 calories, 14 grams of fat, 1600 milligrams of sodium (66% of your daily recommended intake!), 52 grams of carbohydrates (huh, pretty low), less than 1 gram of dietary fiber and 10 grams of protein.

I came across this alternative while working at the police academy in NYC.  The academy is located on the island of Manhattan in NYC.  Tons of great food around it, but mostly very expensive haute cuisine.  One day I stopped in a new Chinese bakery that opened and they had fried ramen noodles on the menu for $5.00.  SCORE!  That is a cheap meal in NYC!  It was a pretty big portion, had egg and onions in it and it tasted like a noodle version of fried rice. Yum.  I asked the proprietor for the recipe, but he politely refused.  I decided I would try to recreate it.  After many months, and many bowls of mushed noodles, I realized that the technique of cooking it was as important as the ingredients.

My version eliminates the high sodium packet that is enclosed with the ramen noodle package in favor of better, more nutritional ingredients.  This is an EASY recipe and takes about 5 minutes to prepare.  Below is the basic recipe…. you can add as many other ingredients as you wish to change it up and make it your own. This will be more than enough for one person.  The entire cost of this meal is about $1.00 (yes, one dollar!)


  • One package of Ramen noodles (block type)
  • One tablespoon of vegetable oil (or canola or olive)
  • One egg
  • Quarter of a small onion (or any other veg. in that family) finely chopped
  • Half a tablespoon of low sodium soy sauce (can use regular but sodium will go up)

In a pot, boil ramen noodles as directed.  Throw out flavor packet. I suggest under-cooking it a bit, so if says boil for three minutes, boil for about 2 minutes.  Drain noodles in a colander.  Then rinse noodles under cold water until noodles are cool (this was the secret!!).  If not, the noodles will still cook from that point on and you will have a mass of mush. Drain water from the noodles in the colander.  Put oil in pan over medium heat.  A non-stick pan is recommended but not necessary. Beat eggs in a small bowl and add egg to pan and scramble. Add onions (and other ingredients you choose) in pan.  Saute for about 2 minutes until egg and other ingredients are cooked.  Put cold noodles in pan and pour in soy sauce.  Saute for about a minute.  Then enjoy!

Basic ramen recipe

Let me know if you try the recipe and any variations you come with.  I’m going to start a new category for recipes.  The criteria are that the recipe must be quick, easy, cheap and be at least somewhat nutritious. Post a recipe here and the world will know you are an Urban Survivalist!

I’ll admit it…. there were times where I thought I couldn’t fight the fight.  It wasn’t an issue of fight or flight; where my instincts took over, it was an issue of being so beat down I did not think I could get up.  I believe we have all experienced those times.

I’ve been beaten down in fights, but I got up.  I’ve been beaten down financially, but I got up.  I’ve been beaten down by the system, but I got up. I can not think of an area in my life where I have not felt the sting of defeat.  So….. I bet you’re thinking this is where I tell you some inspirational story of me pulling myself up by my bootstraps and overcoming adversity……..Nope

Because I had help.  Urban Survival sometimes is about knowing when to ask for help and being smart enough to accept it when it is offered.  I survived because I had family, friends and co-workers willing to help me when I needed them.  Sadly, not all my friends, family and co-workers did.  But those that did, had a profound effect on me.  I know now not to tell someone “call me if you need anything.”  I just do it…….

Know that in any given situation….. you can prevail.   Even in what may seemingly be defeat, you will prevail… You can, because you must.  The alternative should never be acceptable.

you are using a public toilet (in a stall) and someone kicks in the door?

I thought I would start a Post where we can share products that we find useful in our everyday urban survival.  My friend Ted sent the following email to me recently and with his permission, I am sharing it with you.  There are some pretty novel anti-theft components to these bags.  Feel free to share ideas. Thanks Ted!

Hi Bruce, here is something you might find interesting for your blog if you don’t know it already. Check out this site:
Barbara and I travel quite a bit and I don’t like carrying a wallet in my back pocket if I can help it especially when I am driving.  After having a few fanny packs and sometimes having them open accidentally I did a little research and found the above product.  I purchased the “Pacsafe Stashsafe 100 Anti-Theft Hip Pack” and was pretty impressed with it.  People that are interested in it should check out the waist size.  The waist band has a stainless steel cable that goes through it and can be locked with the enclosed paddle lock.  The pouch itself has a crisscross stainless steel mesh to prevent it from being slashed open.  Check it out if you have time.