How to Escape an Urban Area on Foot
There is urban survival and then there is realizing that staying in place will have deadly consequences. Surviving in and escaping from a large city offers up a unique set of challenges that those in rural areas may never have to deal with.
A scary escape can save your life
First, population density always works against you during a crisis. The greatest threat to you, other than the crisis itself will be those people around you. Many will be desperate for supplies or outright criminals that are taking advantage of the crisis. Just the sheer number of people makes it difficult to move from one place to the other, because in many cases, you cannot move around or through large crowds.
The occasional power disruptions because of tropical storms, heavy snows or ice will not have a large impact and typically are no reason for you to consider evacuating the city. However, massive earthquakes, a surface nuclear detonation or the release of chemical or biological agents in the city will be cause for you to leave and to leave quickly.
Be Prepared to Leave before you Have to Leave
The average person will decide they need to leave when it may be too late to leave. People will take their cues from the government and other authorities. The authorities will always try to prevent mass hysteria so they may not display a sense of urgency to prevent another disaster caused by a mass exodus of citizens.
Ensure you begin planning your escape now. You cannot perform many of the tasks needed to get out of the city while the crisis is unfolding around you.
Study your area carefully and know all of the routes out of the city that do not require you to cross bridges, go through tunnels or use elevated highways. These areas are ambush points, and the disaster may have caused structural damage to these areas as well. You cannot afford to backtrack numerous times to get out of the city.
Pre-planning is critical and you should walk as much of the route as possible so you have a street level view. The view will be different from a bus, train or taxi. Do not rely on landmarks or any type of marker to find your way because they can be destroyed due to the disaster or torn down by demonstrators or rioters. You have to be ready to leave and know when to leave to keep from being caught up in the crush of people fleeing the area.
Know what the threats are, and determine what is most likely to happen in your area. You already know what is possible, based on past events. Planes can fly into buildings, hackers can shut down (contaminate) water treatment plants, and nuclear weapons can be detonated anywhere in the world. The most deadly diseases on the planet can be carried in a test tube and smashed on a subway platform without anyone noticing, anything can happen to anyone at anytime. Part of any urban survival/evacuation plan is doing a treat assessment so you know if evacuating the area is the best move.
According to research and transportation experts, the typical grocery store is resupplied every 36 hours by truck, and some convenience stores that sell fuel are resupplied every 24 hours by tanker and delivery trucks. What this means is that the typical store only has between 24 and 36 hours worth of product on hand. If there were to be a crisis, the shelves and fuel tanks would be emptied in a matter of hours. This is when you need to be well on your way out of the area because if you planned right you will not have to “run to the store”.
First people will try to get food, water, fuel and cash. There will be thousands of people clogging the roads and freeways trying to gather supplies not realizing yet that they cannot stay in the city if they expect to live.
The government will be trying to make decisions about ordering evacuations and at the same time, trying to contain any biological contaminates if that happens to be the cause of the crisis. The experts will be advising governmental officials not to let people out of the city for fear of spreading contaminates. Quarantines will be the norm and roads in and out of the city can be blocked in some cases. You must be ahead of all of this.
The local government will be in chaos trying to determine their next move. It will not be long before federal troops are brought in to control the situation and Marshall Law can be enacted by the governor of the state or by presidential declaration.
Carry your bug-out-bag with you at all times and be dressed with what you plan to travel in at all times as well. When you go out to gather information on the street be prepared to leave the city from wherever you might be based on the information you gather.
Your survival bag may draw attention but in the early hours of the crisis, you will not be as big a target. You will become a target when people realize they did not prepare properly. They will be soon looking for those that did prepare and an obvious bug-out-bag on your back is a target for desperate people.
You may only have a matter of hours after the disaster has struck to decide if you have to leave. You should leave in the early morning hours where there are enough people on the streets so you do not stand out. Walking in the darkness in a large city is dangerous for many different reasons. If you have to wait for daylight to move out then you should do so unless there is an obvious and immediate danger in staying in place for a few hours.
Move with a purpose and do not seek alliances with any one at this point. You are better off traveling alone unless you are with family or a trusted friend. Be suspicious of anyone that is not carrying a pack and yet states they are fleeing the city.
The average person can walk three miles per hour on relatively level ground. You cannot expect to walk at this pace because you will have to possibly step over and around objects and you will have to backtrack on occasion to avoid certain areas. Your objective is to get out of the congested area as quickly as possible. If you are traveling in a group, the group as a whole will only move as fast as its slowest member can walk.
Essentials You Should Have Other Than the Emergency Supplies In Your Pack
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- Stout walking stick to discourage dogs and humans
- Pepper spray and it is recommend you use canisters specifically designed as bear spray not because of its potency but because of its range, bear spray canisters are effective up to 25 feet in some cases
- Personal defense and it is recommended that you do not make it obvious you have a firearm unless you believe it can act as a deterrent. In some cases, people may avoid contact with you if they can see you are armed and in other cases, this may cause someone to try to take your firearm. Showing confidence and being aware of your surroundings will make you less of a target because muggers and others rely on surprise so you cannot prepare yourself. If they see you are aware and are armed, they may very well seek an easier target. Avoid looking at maps unless you can do it discreetly, this is an obvious sign of someone lost and possibly confused
You want to be clear of the city before dark so you can shelter in relative safety. Avoid setting up a tent for the first night unless you feel confident about your security or you need it for protection from the cold or rain. Tents are restrictive and if your camp is overrun, you can be trapped inside. Tents also obstruct your field of vision.
On your way out of the city look for abandoned gardens, greenhouses or any food source that is obviously abandoned by the owners. Collect as many fruits and vegetables as you can carry to supplement your food source. At certain times of the year, produce/fruit stands are common along the outskirts of metropolitan areas.
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Take advantage of surface water sources regardless of your water supply. Use your water purification tablets or boil water for purity. Try to locate your camp close to a water source without being to close because others may be seeking the water as well.
Once in a rural area set up a base camp in a secure location. Use your portable radio to monitor for information and be prepared to move farther from the city if there is the possibility of fallout from nuclear detonations or if you feel the air currents have shifted and may carry chemical or biological contaminates farther than previously expected.
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