Camping & Survival

Throwback Thursday: Urban Survival and Prepping for Beginners: Food and Water

Cans stacked in an organizer in a small coat closet

Many conversations about prepping revolve around living off the grid or establishing a bug-out retreat. Those who have either of those options are lucky, because in reality, there aren’t many who do. 80.7 percent of Americans live in urban areas and just don’t find it necessary, or probable to leave their lives and well-paying jobs in the city. However, that doesn’t mean they can’t be serious about preparing for disasters.

crowded city street
Do you have a long-term survival plan for living in the city?

Every Sunday for the next five weeks, the Shooter’s Log will post two rules for the beginner urban prepper. This series will teach the basics of what to store and how in small spaces, security, bugging in, and establishing the right mindset to survive a collapse of society and city services.

We will start with the basic necessities—food and water.

Do you know how to get the water from your hot water heater?

  • First, take a large bowl or bucket and put it under the hot water heater.
  • Then, cut the power to the water heater.
  • After turning the power off, close the valve to the hot water heater’s water supply.
  • Open the valve at the bottom of the water heater.
  • Finally, turn a water faucet on elsewhere in the house.
  • Water will pour out. Filter and purify the water from the hot water heater before drinking it, as dirt and sediment deposits from the tank may come lose and end up in expelled water.

Rule #1 Water

The typical recommendation for water storage is one gallon of water per person per day. However—and fortunately—there are plenty of survival experts and disaster first responders who say that this recommended amount just isn’t enough. Will that amount keep you alive? Almost certainly. However, you want to do more than just survive—especially if your bug-in situation is going to last more than a few days. Think about all you need water for—drinking, cooking, cleaning, hygiene, first aid, gardening… You’re going to need more than a few gallons. For example, maintaining proper hygiene during a survival situation is more important than you might think.

Storage of water in tight spaces is an issue. Use your closets and other dark places creatively and keep water in all of the places you can spare the room. Further, invest in collapsible water storage containers and a quality water filter. (Check out Katadyn, which makes everything from individual pocket filter straws to community and base-camp water purification systems.) Cases of pre-bottled water, as opposed to plastic gallons of water can be easier to store because they are stackable.

In an emergency, note all of the water sources near you—pipes, hot water heaters, sprinkler systems, roof top water containment or rain barrels, swimming pools, hot tubs, and water fountains. It will be risky accessing water from these sources, but you gotta do what you gotta do, right? Boiling, using purifying chemicals, and even plain household bleach will make water from these sources safe to drink.

Rule #2 Food

The Canned Food Alliance says—at a minimum—to store the equivalent of two cans of food per day per person for emergencies. Canned foods last for years, are cheap and offers a wider variety than non-perishable boxed food items. They also do not require anything other than a heat source and a flame-safe pot or pan to prepare. In a pinch, you don’t even have to heat up canned food for it to be safely edible.

Other non-perishable food choices are MRE-style meals and freeze-dried foods. Freeze-dried foods need water to rehydrate and come in either foil packages or 10-lb. cans—both of which can be difficult to store when space is at a premium. Many of the freeze-dried food companies offer packaged meals in a big plastic bucket, which is convenient for storage, but these buckets only provide one-week worth of food. Cases of MREs come in boxes, which are stackable and easier to conceal. Both MRE and freeze-dried food companies offer food heaters. An advantage to freeze-dried food is the variety of complete dishes they offer that taste just like popular frozen food meals you find in you grocery aisle every day.

Cans stacked in an organizer in a small coat closet
This screen shot from AlaskaGranny shows a creative way to store cans and long-term food in the coat closet of a small apartment.

Beans and rice are staples in the prepper’s pantry.

Your best bet is to incorporate all the different types of long-term food storage as space allows—a mixture of cans, dry goods, non-perishables, as well as freeze-dried and MREs.

Avoid using a gas or charcoal grill. It’s just asking for neighbors and wonderers to come sniffing by. Sterno and Sterno-like fuels are safe to use indoor and will heat up your food nicely.

Utilize all the space you have in your urban dwelling for storage of food—under beds, in the pantry, hall closet—anywhere you have room. Apartment preppers will also build “furniture” out of their preps. Stack up MRE boxes or bottled water to create side tables. Throw a long tablecloth over it and lamp on top and no one is the wiser.

For more on collecting, filtering and purifying water, click here.

For more on long-term food storage, click here.

Do you have any food and water storage tips for beginners? Share them in the comment section. Remember to return to the Shooter’s Log next week for part two: Bugging In vs. Bugging Out.

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog. "The Shooter's Log", is to provide information - not opinions - to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decicions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (14)

  1. Anyone who is prepping for survival should be told AND REMBER, IN ORDER, the following:
    SSWWFF

    S – Security – Without security, you won’t keep what you have.
    S – Shelter – Without shelter, the environment will kill you.
    W – Waste – Waste is always with you, figure out where to put it.
    W – Water – You can only survive 3 days without clean water (that is why Waster disposal comes first)
    F – Fuel – Warmth, clean water, and cooking require fuel.
    F – Food – You can survive 3 weeks without eating. That is why food is your least concern.

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