Posts Tagged ‘urban survival blog’

prepper women

When we prepare for our man-made or natural disasters we have to take everything into consideration.  It is easy to think of food, water and shelter but we often forget about the other requirements of life.  For instance, eye glasses, if needed.

Some preparations are gender specific.  I found this great article on the Prepared Housewives blog.  It relates to menstruation and what I think would be great survival tool.  It’s called a menstrual cup. I hope my female readers will comment.  Here is the link to the article.

Are You Still Using Tampons and Pads?

I wish I knew about this a while ago. I was kayaking and when I disembarked on a rocky shore, my sandal broke. If you happen to break your sandal in the urban jungle, you can use this life hack.

sandal life hack

We left off with the topics of:
Fleeing a mob via a motor vehicle
Surviving a gang attack alone and/or while protecting loved ones

These two parts of the motorcycle attack are the most difficult.

Fleeing a mob via a vehicle should be easy.

Whether your attackers are on foot or on motorcycles, the combat formula applies. The rule of combat is “all other things being equal, the bigger stronger person wins.” So it should be easy, the car wins. You can flee by simply driving away or if your attackers are stupid enough to get in your way, use the mass of your vehicle and run them over. Unfortunately, this is why urban survival is different then surviving in the wild. In the wild you have to worry about these types of animals:

In the urban environment you have to worry about these:

motorcycle wife

The victim of the motorcycle attack in NY fled after he was attacked and as per news reports ran over one of the motorcyclists.  Here, the attorney for that motorcyclist run over by the victim comforts the wife of the motorcyclist while announcing a multimillion dollar lawsuit filed against the victim driver.

So, it’s not that simple if you consider that if you flee one attack you may have to face another.  You may want to consider the phrase “better to be judged by 12 then carried by 6.”

Surviving a gang attack alone and/or while protecting loved ones:

To survive a gang attack alone and/or while protecting loved ones, you have to consider the psychology of combat, your physical abilities, your fighting capabilities and the environment.  At Zenshin LLC, we teach that there are typical psychological responses both the aggressor and the potential victim display.  If you can interrupt that learned response you have a great chance of disrupting the attack long enough to escape.  Of course, being physically fit is important, more important is knowing what your physical limitations and  strengths are so that you can increase the odds that you will make good combat choices.  Above, I stated the rule of combat is “all other things being equal, the bigger stronger person wins.”  There is a second part of the rule that says, “although it is possible to change that outcome with skill and environmental factors.”  Train everyday and when you are not in combat, practice how your environment may help you.

The planning you do now may help fend off all types of animals that may want to do you harm.

Ever since the motorcycle gang attack in NYC

motorcycle attack

people have been discussing how such a thing could happen and how to prevent these attacks from happening again.

Here at Zenshin LLC we analyze these attacks with a view toward survivability. We assume that these attacks will occur, it is just a matter of when. The news is full of examples. This is just the latest one.

In our Psychology of Combat series we discussed briefly how understanding the psychology of the gang can be used to protect yourself. You can read that post here.

This motorcycle incident is a very specific act but illustrates the several ways in which we have to focus our attention when dealing with mobs. In this case these subjects come up:

Driving through a mob
Being attacked while in a car
Fleeing a mob via a motor vehicle
Surviving a gang attack alone and/or while protecting loved ones

Driving through a mob is the easiest to discuss.  It’s simple, don’t do it.  Drive over to the side of the road and yield to the mob.  Look for the best possible location to move over.  Keep in mind, some places are not conducive to protecting yourself.  Be aware of where you go at all times and where you can exit if necessary. Do not allow them to engage you.  The most important thing is to keep moving.  If you keep moving they have to move with you.  This means even just driving 5 miles an hour, moving back and forth, in circles or in reverse.  They will have difficulty dragging you out as long as you are in motion.

So they caught up with you and they start attacking the car.  In this instance, they smashed the windows and punctured the tires.  How far can you drive on flat tires?  Pretty darn far!  So keep going!  As the mob starts smashing the windows you have to assume they are going for you next.  The most important thing to remember now is to ensure that the doors are locked.  If the doors are locked they can’t drag you out.  Hopefully, you are still moving so it would be that much more difficult.

Check out our next post for ideas on fleeing a mob and surviving a gang attack while protecting your loved ones.  In the meanwhile ask yourself this question….What do you have in your car to protect yourself and your family?   Comment with your answers and why you have what you have.

Be safe


I have been challenging myself recently to ascertain if I am truly prepared to “be able to” survive.

This attitude is different from ensuring I have everything I need to be prepared. I have my bug out bag, the tools and items (such as water, fire implements and food) to help me if needed and have educated myself in those things that I think are important for urban survival; self-defense, fire making techniques, water purification, etc.

Although I have tried to challenge myself and put myself in situations that could test these skills, it proved difficult to do. You simply can not create a realistic survival environment in an occupied city. Yet, I wanted to try and really test my own personal preparedness. The only way to truly do this is to endure an urban version of Les Stroud’s “Survivorman.” Not so easy in our everyday city environment. I learned this the hard way when I tried to start a fire in a public place with a battery and steel wool in NYC and ended up having a long conversation with New York’s finest.

So how does one test their urban survival preparedness? I came up with a few ways and this series will chronicle these experiences. Today, we will talk about testing how I can move around the urban environment without using conventional means. Next week, I will report back on my diet experiment (do you know a city squirrel has 26 grams of protein?) and how that effected my ability to perform critical urban survival tasks.

So, the scenario is that the city is not safe to travel in the usual manner (streets, sidewalks and open areas). How can I get around to obtain the necessities to provide myself with food, water, shelter? More importantly, will I be able to travel this way if needed?

Okay, in the wilderness there may be trees and mountains that can be traversed if one did not want to walk on the forest floor. How can we move off the city floor in the urban environment? The most obvious solution is to go vertical using the buildings that are in every urban environment. Not so easy. Doors are locked and windows are barred and I unfortunately lack the spiderman ability to climb walls. The solution I found was fire escapes. Many building have them but they are especially designed for people to escape fire and go down and to prevent people from using them for going up. There are many versions and Wikipedia has a good article on the variations. If you study them carefully you may be able to figure out how to get the ladder down from ground level. For a more detailed lesson you will have to take my course Zenshin, Urban Survival Tours. I can’t go into detail here because the information can be used to actually burglarize apartments!

The fire escape lesson proved challenging in that it required a lot of upper body strength and more importantly, balance. To help me with developing this skill I took to the ropes. I spend the day at one of the largest rope courses in the northeast. The course uses a tether so it is safe but is loose enough so that it requires you use your core muscles and focus on balance. The workout was surprisingly rigorous and in the end, the practice really gave me the confidence to not only be able to scale up a fire escape but possibly use ropes to navigate around. I suggest going to a rope course that provides many different difficulty levels and several heights. There is a rope course at the palisades mall that is 85 feet high and has over 75 different courses. Take a look at their course and if you are not near them look for one similar in your neighborhood.

If you would like me to try out a particular urban survival technique send me a comment and I’ll give it a try and report back. If you have done one recently, let us know about your experiences.

Next post: the Urban Survival diet.

It is said that a person will not survive more than:

Three minutes without air,

Three days without water, and

Three weeks without food

As we continue to honor National Preparedness month, let’s look at how we can prepare for the possibility that we will not have sufficient air to breathe as a result of a natural or man-made disaster.

The most obvious urban survival technique is to invest in a good respirator, hood or “gas mask.”  There are many commercially available ones out there but because you are all good urban survival consumers as a result of reading my blog, I will not go into detail about them.  I would rather discuss what to do if you are caught without one.

Okay, you are in your  home or apartment and the emergency response system comes on notifying you that as a result of an explosion nearby, the air around you is toxic.  For this scenario, you have determined it was not safe or it was too late to get out of the area without a respirator.  First, get to the room furthest from the exterior, seal off as much of the area as possible, then consider constructing a homemade mask so that you can make your escape.

If you do, please know that your homemade gas mask is of course, only a temporary solution that will not be as effective as commercially made gas masks. However, they are better than using a simple towel pressed against your face. Homemade masks will, most likely, only protect against the most common gases used in chemical warfare. Against smoke, some other gases and carbon monoxide, they will be ineffective. Moreover, homemade masks will only be as effective as they are airtight. Your homemade mask must fit securely around the head so that air is unable to slip inside (except through the breathing canister) or else chemical agents can also get through.

So here are two possible homemade gas masks you can try.

1. The bed sheet method:

Cross-stitch together two 12-inch squares of bed sheets or similar fabric. Put a layer of baking soda between the two sheets before sewing them together. When you need the mask, simply dampen it and hold it firmly over your face while exiting the area contaminated by gases. This provides temporary protection and is not intended for any lengthy use.

2. The swimming cap type:

I think this type is a modern variation of the 1942 gas mask made by the American Women’s Voluntary Service

American women’s voluntary service-1942

Use a swimming cap, oriented backwards and upside down, for the face covering. You’ll cut holes in the cap for both an eyepiece and for the breathing canister apparatus. Secure these pieces with tape. For the eyepiece, use a see-through, celluloid box, the sort used in women’s facial powder boxes. For a snug fit, the cut hole should be slightly smaller than the box. For the breathing canister use a can with both the top and bottom cut out. Over both ends of the open can you’ll fit wire screen mesh. Old fashioned, wire-screen flyswatters will work, but you can also use screen door material. Inside the canister you’ll need the actual gas mask filter. For this, use handkerchiefs stuffed with charcoal (you can get at pet supply store or make your own by burning coconut husks) and soda lime (old fashioned mom and pop drug store). With elastic, create straps across the back of the mask to hold it onto your head.

Although the masks are to be used for a very short period of time, it will give you enough time to escape to a better place. You may even want to try making one now.  Having said that, I still recommend you go buy one.  I hear Canada has a bunch that they can’t sell….. really!

Kayaking Preparedness

In honor of preparedness month coming up, I decided to expand my knowledge base and take on kayaking.  Although kayaking may primarily be thought of a wilderness survival skill, there are many waterways around our cities and the skill of kayaking may come in handy if you need to get off an island, like Manhattan, in a hurry.  During the attack on 9/11 many people were trapped by the edge of the water and were rescued by good samaritan boaters.

So I signed up with Mountain Valley Guides in Cornwall on Hudson, NY and Bill was my guide/instructor for my three-hour tour.  Yes, I really did sing the Gilligan Island theme several times.  Mountain Valley Guide’s instructions were to bring only things you do not mind getting wet.  I emptied out my pack and brought only my snacks, my EDC and insect repellent.  What else could I really need?  I didn’t want to lose anything in the river that I would miss, so I left everything else behind.

Bill was a great instructor, he explained the mechanics of rowing a kayak, the procedures in the event we rolled out and how we were to communicate with each other on the water.  We rowed to several points of interest on the Hudson river and beached so we could have a snack and others in my group could go for a swim.

Unfortunately, as I exited my kayak, my sandal broke and I had to walk on the rocky shore barefoot.  I looked at what I packed to ascertain if I could repair my sandal. Nothing on my EDC could be used to poke a hole in the sandal to repair it.  It really didn’t matter because I didn’t bring my paracord bracelet so I didn’t have any cord to repair the sandal.  Ugh, I made the rookie mistake of assuming I didn’t need my basic kit!

I asked Bill if he had a multitool and he whips out the biggest Swiss army knife I have ever seen.  Well it helped poke a hole in the sandal bit I had nothing to fasten the straps together.  Once again, Bill came to the rescue with some cord and I repaired my footwear.

My McGyver moment

Lesson learned.  We take the time to put together our personal kits and we should trust that we made the right decision.  Although we always need to balance what we carry with us; there are people out there who carry tons of “needed” equipment, we should always assess our needs based on any given activity or environment.

If you haven’t taken a class/tour on kayaking, I highly recommend it.  That little boat may be your only way out someday. In addition, it is a really fun activity!